Friday, June 26, 2015

Review: The Redeemers (A Quinn Colson Novel) by Ace Atkins

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1555 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons (July 21 2015)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group USA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00OQS4CC4

Book Description

The electrifying new novel in New York Times–bestselling author Ace Atkins’s acclaimed series about the real Deep South.

He is only in his early thirties, but now Quinn Colson is jobless—voted out of office as sheriff of Tibbehah County, Mississippi, thanks to the machinations of county kingpin Johnny Stagg. He has offers, in bigger and better places, but before he goes, he’s got one more job to do—bring down Stagg’s criminal operations for good.

At least that’s the plan. But in the middle of the long, hot summer, a trio of criminals stage a bold, wall-smashing break-in at the home of a local lumber mill owner, making off with a million dollars in cash from his safe, which is curious, because the mill owner is wealthy—but not that wealthy. None of this has anything to do with Colson, but during the investigation, two men are killed, one of them the new sheriff. His friend, acting sheriff Lillie Virgil, and a dangerous former flame, Anna Lee Stevens, both ask him to step in, and reluctantly he does, only to discover that that safe contained more than just money—it held secrets.

Secrets that could either save Colson—or destroy him once and for all.

About the Author

Ace Atkins is the author of eight novels, including his latest, Infamous, from G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

A former journalist who cut his teeth as a crime reporter in the newsroom of The Tampa Tribune, he published his first novel, Crossroad Blues, at 27 and became a full-time novelist at 30.

While at the Tribune, Ace earned a Pulitzer Prize nomination for a feature series based on his investigation into a forgotten murder of the 1950s. The story became the core of his critically acclaimed novel, White Shadow, which earned raves from noted authors and critics. In his next novels, Wicked City, Devil’s Garden, and now Infamous, Ace continues to carve a new a niche as both a talented storyteller and a meticulous journalist, blending first-hand interviews and original research into police and court records with tightly woven plots and incisive characters. Ace’s novels tell great American stories, weaving fact and fiction into a colorful, seamless tapestry.

Infamous, Devil’s Garden, Wicked City, and White Shadow are all very personal books for Atkins, all set in his former and current homes: San Francisco, where he lived as a child; Alabama, his family’s home and where he was born and went to college; and Tampa, where he embarked on his career as a writer and now the MidSouth where he now calls home.

Each novel contains bits of himself—friends and colleagues he once knew, people he respected or admired, family members, and personal heroes.

Right now, Ace is developing a new series for his longtime publisher—home to Tom Clancy, Patricia Cornwell, Robert Crais, John Sandford, and Robert B. Parker—set in rural Mississippi. The first of these novels will hit stores in Spring 2011.

Ace lives on a historic farm outside Oxford, Mississippi with his family.

My Review

Awesome series! I love the Quinn Colson series by Ace Atkins. The Redeemers is a fabulous addition to this series. It is the fifth.

Tibbehah County, Mississippi....corruption is always boiling over and Quinn Colson is always ready to save the day. Johnny Stagg has long run the county..until Quinn came back to town after countless tours of duty overseas. Colson had been the sheriff until he was voted out in the last election. In the opening pages of the novel, he is just ending his term. The new sheriff, Rusty, who is a former insurance salesman, has big shoes to fill.

One of Johnny Stagg's cronies is robbed in a spectacular fashion on New Years Eve. Cobb's funds from his dirty dealings are in the safe. The biggest suspect is...his former son-in-law...who the reader knows is behind the plot. Oh but this twisty plot keeps you constantly guessing at what is going to happen next. So many bad guys!

The Redeemers is released in July. It is an absorbing and action-filled read. You need to read this series. If you have not discovered him yet, Ace Atkins is an intriguing writer.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Review: NIrV Study Bible for Kids

  • Age Range: 6 - 10 years
  • Hardcover: 1792 pages
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz (June 30, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310744032
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310744030

Book Description

An updated study Bible with an all-new design for kids ages 6-10 using the NIrV written at a third-grade reading level.

The bestselling NIrV Study Bible for Kids starts early readers ages 6-10 on the rewarding path of reading and studying God's Word. This Bible uses the complete text of the New International Reader's Version® (NIrV) which is written at a third-grade reading level and is perfect for those learning to read. With colorful artwork, easy-to-read Bible text, and fun features, kids will engage with the Bible in a way that makes it stick.

Features include:
  • Presentation page for personalization and gift giving
  • 32 full-color pages include illustrations to bring Bible characters and events to life plus helpful study information about the Ten Commandments, how to become a Christian, prayer, and more
  • Check It Out: sketches and descriptions of what life was like in Bible times
  • Brain Game: questions to help kids remember important Bible themes
  • Soak It Up: great verses for kids to memorize
  • Book Introductions: brief overviews of each book with an outline of key events
  • Dictionary: Bible words for quick reference
  • Map section

My Review

This review is for the hard cover version of the NIrV Study Bible for Kids.

The NIrV Study Bible for Kids is a beautiful bible that is just perfect for children aged 6 to 10 as it is written at a Grade 3 reading level. It would also be appropriate for readers that are new to English and new to the bible.

The NIrV Study Bible for Kids is a sturdy book. It has large enough print that it is easily read. There are some beautiful illustrations throughout the bible. Each book has an introduction. There are helpful study tips throughout:  Brain Games, Soak It Up and Check It Out. There is a dictionary and there are maps! For children to understand how people lived in the world of the New Testament there is a section beginning on page 1769 of the hardcover version.

At the beginning of this bible, there is a section that explains what the bible is, what is in the bible and simple explanations about the how the bible is separated into sections such as the Gospels. There are some options for reading the bible and a list of top bible stories.

The NIrV Study Bible for Kids is a great resource for children. I just love it and cannot wait until I have grandchildren to share it with. It is available on June 30th, 2015.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Review: Last Chance Hero by Hope Ramsay

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2027 KB
  • Print Length: 344 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1455556483
  • Publisher: Forever (June 30 2015)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00O7X61FE

Book Description

 Ross Gardiner has had his fill of difficult relationships. Returning to Last Chance after a rough divorce, the town's handsome new fire chief just wants safety and stability-a tall order given his dangerous job and the way he has the attention of all the single women in town. All except Sabina Grey, the girl who stole his heart when they were teenagers.

Sabina knows a lot about playing it safe. Always the good girl, she's now responsible for her antiques store and caring for her sister. But having Ross in town brings back the memory of one carefree summer night when she threw caution to the wind-and almost destroyed her family. Now that they are both older and wiser, will the spark still be there, even though they've both been burned?

About the Author

 Hope Ramsay was born in New York and grew up on the North Shore of Long Island, but every summer Momma would pack her off under the care of Aunt Annie to go visiting with relatives in the midlands of South Carolina. Her extended family includes its share of colorful aunts and uncles, as well as cousins by the dozens, who provide the fodder for the characters you’ll find in Last Chance, South Carolina. Hope earned a BA in Political Science from the University of Buffalo, and has had various jobs working as a Congressional aide, a lobbyist, a public relations consultant, and a meeting planner. She’s a two-time finalist in the Golden Heart, and is married to a good ol’ Georgia boy who resembles every single one of her heroes. She has two grown children and a couple of demanding lap cats. She lives in Fairfax, Virginia where you can often find her on the back deck, picking on her thirty-five-year-old Martin guitar

My Review

The Last Chance romance series by Hope Ramsay has been a great series. Last Chance Hero is the latest addition. And it is a great addition to the series.

When the story opens Ross, the fire chief in Last Chance, is set to marry Lucy. It is a comfortable relationship with no great sparks. Whoa...whenever Ross is near Lucy's sister Sabina...oh oh...sparks! Ditto for Sabina whenever she is near Ross. The reader knows that Sabina and Ross will find each other eventually...oh but the ride they go on to get there. There is some mystery involved with arson on some homes. Sabina and Lucy's overbearing mother is pushing the marriage ahead whenever there is a roadblock. Then of course, there is Miriam Randall's prediction about Lucy and Sabina to deal with. There are many twists and turns but you'll love the ending.

Hope Ramsay knows how to write a great romance. Loved it! You will too if you enjoy a good romance.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Review: Ghost Roll: A Bell Elkins Story by Julia Keller

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 835 KB
  • Print Length: 54 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (June 9 2015)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00S54VUF2

Book Description

 Bell Elkins, prosecuting attorney and small-town heroine of Pulitzer Prize winner Julia Keller's A Killing in the Hills, Bitter River and Summer of the Dead, faces one of her most challenging days in this exclusive digital short story. Featuring an exclusive extract from her new full-length novel Last Ragged Breath.

For Bell Elkins no day is ever the same.

But on this day, for the third day running, Bell has woken up from the same dream. A dream about a boy needing her help, reaching out to her. Bell, always unable to help.

Already unsettled, she becomes embroiled, in her role as prosecuting attorney for Raythune County, in an investigation into a couple running a local day-care centre, and Bell suspects that her day is only going to get worse. A suspicion that is compounded when she's forced to confront a friend's treachery and a ghost from her past.

No day is ever the same, but will Bell be forever changed by this one?

About the Author

 Julia was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia. She graduated from Marshall University, then later earned a doctoral degree in English Literature at Ohio State University.

She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and has taught at Princeton and Ohio State Universities, and the University of Notre Dame. She is a guest essayist on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS and has been a contributor on CNN and NBC Nightly News. In 2005, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.

Julia lives in a high-rise in Chicago and a stone cottage on a lake in rural Ohio.

My Review

 I love the Bell Elkins series by Julia Keller. Julia is one of my go-to authors. I know whatever she writes is going to be good. Ghost Roll will have to hold me over until the release of Last Ragged Breath in August.

The earlier Bell Elkins short stories had explored Bell's past. This one is set in the present. Bell is having dreams featuring a small boy at a window. Who is this boy? What are the dreams trying to tell her. We quickly learn that the small boy is son of the owners of a daycare center that is actually just a front, a money laundering enterprise, for selling prescription drugs illegally. The sign-in list of children is actually a Ghost Roll.  Prescription drugs are ravaging the Appalachians.

And an old friend's father comes to town.  The old friend who was the secret service friend in Bitter River. There are ghosts everywhere in Ghost Roll.

I was pulled into reality by an important statement in Ghost Roll...that outsiders look at a small town in those hills and think that it is quaint and filled with good people. It's not anymore. Things have changed. The economy has ground to a halt and the only people making money are bad people. Despair rules the day. That is the new reality.

Great read. Last Ragged Breath...August is not coming fast enough!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Great Escapes Blog Tour and Giveaway: Farmed and Dangerous (A Local Foods Mystery #3) by Edith Maxwell

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2496 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (May 26 2015)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Participants 

June 1 – Brooke Blogs – Spotlight
June 2 – My Devotional Thoughts – Review
June 3 – Shelley’s Book Case – Review
June 4 – Babs Book Bistro – Review
June 5 – Booklady’s Booknotes – Review, Interview
June 6 – Melina’s Book Blog – Review, Guest Post
June 7 – Kaisy Daisy’s Corner – Review
June 8 – Bunny’s Review – Review
June 9 – Mystery Playground – Interview
June 10 – readalot – Review
June 10 – Lilac Reviews – Review, Guest Post
June 11 – Carstairs Considers – Review
June 12 – LibriAmoriMiei – Review
June 13 – MysteriesEtc – Review
June 14 – Laura’s Interests – Review

Book Description

 Snow is piling up in Westbury, Massachusetts, and Cam Flaherty’s organic farm has managed to survive the harsh New England winter. Unfortunately murder seems to be the crop in season…

Cam is finding the New Year just as hectic as the old one. Her sometimes rocky relationship with Chef Jake Ericsson is in a deep freeze, she’s struggling to provide the promised amount of food to the subscribers in her first winter CSA, and her new greenhouse might just collapse from the weight of the snow. Supplying fresh ingredients for a dinner at the local assisted living facility seems like the least of her worries—until one of the elderly residents dies after eating some of her produce.

Cantankerous Bev Montgomery had a lot of enemies, from an unscrupulous real estate developer who coveted her land to an aggrieved care provider fed up with her verbal abuse. But while the motives in this case may be plentiful, the trail of poisoned produce leads straight back to Cam. Not even her budding romance with police detective Pete Pappas will keep him from investigating her.

As the suspects gather, a blizzard buries the scene of the crime under a blanket of snow, leaving Cam stranded in the dark with a killer who gives new meaning to the phrase "dead of winter."

About the Author

 Edith Maxwell is an Agatha-nominated mystery author. Her Local Foods Mystery series, featuring organic farmer Cam Flaherty and a colorful Locavore Club, is published by Kensington Publishing. Edith once owned and operated the smallest certified-organic farm in Essex County, Massachusetts. The third book in the series, FARMED AND DANGEROUS, releases in 2015.

Edith also writes the historical Quaker Midwife Mysteries. DELIVERING THE TRUTH, featuring a Quaker midwife sleuth in 1888, releases from Midnight Ink in April, 2016.

As Maddie Day, Edith writes the Country Store Mysteries, also from Kensington, set in southern Indiana. FLIPPED FOR MURDER releases in November, 2015.

Edith’s Lauren Rousseau mystery series (written as Tace Baker) from Barking Rain Press, features a Quaker linguistics professor and small-town Massachusetts intrigues. BLUFFING IS MURDER released in 2014. Edith is a member of the Society of Friends (Quaker) and holds a doctorate in linguistics.

Her short stories have appeared in History and Mystery, Oh My!, That Mysterious Woman, Kings River Life Magazine, three Level Best Books anthologies, Fish Nets, Burning Bridges, and the Larcom Review. She is active in Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and is the Vice President of SINC New England.

Edith, a fourth-generation Californian, has two grown sons and lives in an antique house north of Boston with her beau, their three cats, a small organic garden, and some impressive garden statuary. She worked as a software technical writer for almost two decades but now writes fiction full time.

My Review  

Farmed and Dangerous is the third book in the Local Foods Mystery series. This is the first book that I have read in the series. I found it easy to follow so you don't need to have read the first two to enjoy Farmed and Dangerous.

Farmed and Dangerous features farmer Cam Flaherty, a female Cam, who lives on her great-uncle's farm in rural Massachusetts. She has been specializing in providing food to locavores...people who like to eat locally raised food. Her great-uncle is living in a care home which is where a lot of the action takes place.

Cam's boyfriend is a local state policeman. Their relationship was front and center in the book. They are both interesting, well-written characters. Farmed and Dangerous is filled with plenty of interesting characters! I learned a lot about farming and the movement to eat local.

Great cozy read! Well written and a good mystery.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Review: Murder at Barclay Meadow: A Mystery by Wendy Sand Eckel

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 28 2015)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00S56PTFM

Book Description

 A delightful cozy debut featuring Rosalie Hart—an endearing, bread-baking heroine—and a supporting cast of highly original small-town characters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland

Rosalie Hart’s world has been upended. After her husband confesses to an affair, she exiles herself to her late aunt’s farmhouse on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. With its fields untended and the house itself in disrepair, Barclay Meadow couldn’t be more different than the tidy D.C. suburb she used to call home. Just when Rosalie feels convinced things couldn’t get any worse, she finds a body floating in her marsh grasses. When the sheriff declares the death an accident, she becomes suspicious. The dead girl, Megan, reminds her of her own daughter, and she feels a responsibility to find out the truth.

Rosalie confides her doubts to her friends in her creative writing class, and they ask to join her investigation, beginning the search in earnest. Meanwhile, Rosalie works on restoring Barclay Meadow to its former glory—with help from the rugged Tyler Wells, a farmer who once leased the land. When Rosalie discovers her aunt’s favorite bread recipe on a yellowed index card, she begins baking, and with her deep love for nourishing others rekindled, she starts to feel alive again. But as she zeroes in on the truth about what happened to Megan, she begins getting ominous threats. Determined to get justice for Megan and protect the new home she’s begun to build for herself, Rosalie races to catch the killer in this deftly plotted and heartwarming debut perfect for fans of Jessica Beck and Carolyn Hart.

About the Author

 WENDY SAND ECKEL lives in Annapolis, Maryland, where she enjoys her family, multiple pets, and life on the water. Murder at Barclay Meadow is her first novel. Connect with Wendy online on Facebook.

My Review

A book for fans of Jessica Beck and Carolyn Hart....I'm in!  Murder at Barclay Meadow is a mystery by new-to-me author Wendy Sand Eckel.

Right off the bat I liked the setting of Maryland's Eastern Shore. This is not a location that I've ever been to or read much about so I loved learning about the area. Rosalie, as well as the rest of the characters in the book, are very believable. I like Rosalie. She is the type of person I would enjoy spending time with.

I found the book to be very enjoyable and interesting. Rosalie's husband has left her for a younger woman. Rosalie, who has striven to be his perfect wife and hostess, retreats to her late aunt's farmhouse. I love the presumptuousness of Rosalie's husband. I'm divorcing you but this is our farm...It's not really a convenient time for me to divorce you...oh, now it is. Since you are not here, I've moved my girlfriend into the house...

Rosalie's college age daughter wants her parents to be back together and have nothing change. It is all so hard for children, no matter what their age is. But Rosalie has begun a new life. She has a dishy handyman around the farm. She has some childhood friends she is reconnecting with. She is baking bread and selling it locally. She is getting involved and being needed.  And most of all, she has made some new friends in a creative writing class who are helping her solve a mystery. Using Facebook. The author Eckel has done a great job of incorporating current social media into the story.

Great read! Loved the ending. Be sure to pick up a copy when it is available in July! Looking forward to Eckel's next book already!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Review: The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 518 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: MIRA (Aug. 1 2015)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00S503T50

Book Description

 Did she once have a sister? Has her mother lied all these years? Why?

After a painful divorce, Maisey Lazarow returns to Fairham, the small island off the North Carolina coast where she grew up. She goes there to heal—and to help her brother, Keith, a deeply troubled man who's asked her to come home. But she refuses to stay in the family house. The last person she wants to see is the wealthy, controlling mother she escaped years ago.

Instead, she finds herself living next door to someone else she'd prefer to avoid—Rafe Romero, the wild, reckless boy to whom she lost her virginity at sixteen. He's back on the island, and to her surprise, he's raising a young daughter alone. Maisey's still attracted to him, but her heart's too broken to risk…

Then something even more disturbing happens. She discovers a box of photographs that evoke distant memories of a little girl, a child Keith remembers, too. Maisey believes the girl must've been their sister, but their mother claims there was no sister.

Maisey's convinced that child existed. So where is she now?

About the Author

 It was a shocking experience that jump-started Brenda Novak’s bestselling author career.

“I caught my day-care provider drugging my children with cough syrup and Tylenol to get them to sleep while I was away,” Brenda says. “It was then that I decided that I needed to do something from home.”

However, writing was the last profession she expected to undertake. In fact, Brenda swears she didn’t have a creative bone in her body. In school, math and science were her best subjects, and when it came time to pick a major in college, she chose business.

Abandoning her academic scholarship to Brigham Young University at the age of 20 in order to get married and start a family, Brenda dabbled in commercial real estate, then became a loan officer.

“When I first got the idea to become a novelist, it took me five years to teach myself the craft and finish my first book,” Brenda admits. “I learned how to write by reading what others have written. The best advice for any would-be author: read, read, read….”

Brenda sold her first book, and the rest is history. Many of her novels have won or placed in contests such as the National Reader's Choice, the Bookseller's Best, the Write Touch, the Award of Excellence and the Beacon Award for Published Authors.

Brenda and her husband, Ted, live in Sacramento and are the proud parents of five children—three girls and two boys. She juggles her writing career with her children’s softball and soccer games, field trips, carpool runs and homework sessions.

When she’s not spending time with her family or writing, Brenda is usually working on her annual fundraiser for diabetes research—an on-line auction held at her website May 1st – May 31st. Her youngest son, Thad, has diabetes, and Brenda is determined to help him and others like him. She also enjoys traveling, watching sporting events and biking--she rides an amazing 20 miles every day!

My Review

 I had not read one of Brenda Novak's books in quite some time and I was delightfully surprised to rediscover her writing. The Secret Sister was a wonderful book filled with romance, family intrigue and mystery.

Maisey Lazarow has just suffered through the sudden death of her baby and the dissolution of her marriage. She returns to Fairham, which is a small island off the North Carolina coast, to help her brother sort through his demons and to have a fresh start. She finds her teenage fling, Rafe, working locally as a building contractor...and living right next door. Sparks fly between them immediately.

While this was a good romance it was also a mystery. Did Maisey have an older sister that she did remember? Did she die? What happened to her? The reader will love following this mystery to its resolution!

Great book. Highly recommend!