Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Review: A Great Reckoning (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #12) by Louise Penny

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1823 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (Aug. 30 2016)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English

Book Description

 The next novel in Louise Penny's #1 New York Times bestselling series featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.

When an intricate old map is found stuffed into the walls of the bistro in Three Pines, it at first seems no more than a curiosity. But the closer the villagers look, the stranger it becomes.

Given to Armand Gamache as a gift the first day of his new job, the map eventually leads him to shattering secrets. To an old friend and older adversary. It leads the former Chief of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec to places even he is afraid to go. But must.

And there he finds four young cadets in the Sûreté academy, and a dead professor. And, with the body, a copy of the old, odd map.

Everywhere Gamache turns, he sees Amelia Choquet, one of the cadets. Tattooed and pierced. Guarded and angry. Amelia is more likely to be found on the other side of a police line-up. And yet she is in the academy. A protégée of the murdered professor.

The focus of the investigation soon turns to Gamache himself and his mysterious relationship with Amelia, and his possible involvement in the crime. The frantic search for answers takes the investigators back to Three Pines and a stained glass window with its own horrific secrets.

For both Amelia Choquet and Armand Gamache, the time has come for a great reckoning.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny pulls back the layers to reveal a brilliant and emotionally powerful truth in her latest spellbinding novel.

"Riveting...with characters of incredible depth who only add to the strength of the plot."
- Library Journal (starred)

"This complex novel deals with universal themes of compassion, weakness in the face of temptation, forgiveness, and the danger of falling into despair and cynicism over apparently insurmountable evils."
- Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed)

"A compelling mystery and a rich human drama in which no character is either entirely good or evil, and each is capable of inspiring empathy."
- Booklist (starred)

"A chilling story that's also filled with hope―a beloved Penny trademark.”
- Kirkus (starred)

"Luminous prose, complex but uncluttered plots, and profound compassion."
- Seattle Times

About the Author
 Many of Louise Penny's books are published under different titles by UK/Canada and US publishers.
She lives with her husband, Michael, and a golden retriever named Trudy, in a small village south of Montreal.

Her first Armand Gamache novel, "Still Life" won the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony and Dilys Awards.

* Agatha Award: Best Novel
o 2007 – A Fatal Grace – Winner
o 2008 – The Cruelest Month – Winner
o 2009 – The Brutal Telling – Winner
o 2010 – Bury Your Death – Winner
o 2013 – The Beautiful Mystery – Winner

* Arthur Ellis Award
o 2006 – Still Life – Winner Best First Crime Novel
o 2011 – Bury Your Dead – Winner Best Crime Novel

* Barry Award
o 2007 – Still Life – Best First Novel Winner

* Anthony Award
o 2007 – Still Life – Best First Novel Winner
o 2009 – The Brutal Telling – Best Novel Winner
o 2010 – Bury Your Death – Best Novel Winner
o 2013 – The Beautiful Mystery – Best Novel Winner

* Macavity Award
o 2011 – Bury Your Death – Best Mystery Novel Winner
o 2013 – The Beautiful Mystery – Best Mystery Novel Winner


My Review

A Great Reckoning is the twelfth book in the  Chief Inspector Armand Gamache by author Louise Penny. Penny is a superb writer and each book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamanche book is a treasure.

Armand Gamanche comes out of retirement to head The Academy of the Sûreté du Québec. Now that the Sûreté du Québec has been cleaned up it is time to find out what has poisoned the Academy. There is a murder. A murder of the most despicable man who was a teacher and a leader at the Academy. Who could have killed "The Duke"? So many had a reason to. And can Gamanche change the direction that Academy was heading?

A Great Reckoning centers on a map. A beautiful map which is a century old. It is a  map for orienteering. I already knew about orienteering. I did it at camp once. (It didn't end well...involved finding myself and a wasp's nest. They could hear my screams back at camp. I now carry a epipen everywhere.) I loved the emphasis on the importance of the link between geography and history. And how if you can read a map, you have power over a situation and can make better decisions. Loved it.

And Academy student Amanda Choquet. What is Gamanche's fascination with her? Why does he let her into the Academy? We are kept guessing until the end and then we are humbled by the reason.

As always, everything leads back to Three Pines. The map is of Three Pines. Gamanche brings the four students back to Three Pines...for their protection? Or is one of them the killer? Our favourite village residents are all back in their full glory...Ruth, Clara, Gabri et al.

Louise Penny is a thoughtful and brilliant writer. The tales she weaves are so touching and thought provoking. I am inspired to be a better person by reading her words. All of the previous Chief Inspector Armand Gamanche books lead up to A Great Reckoning. I am looking forward to seeing where Gamanche goes next with his career..though I have an idea.

The entire Chief Inspector Armand Gamanche series needs to be read and savoured by all. A Great Reckoning is a masterpiece. I loved reading it. You will too.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bible Review: NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible By Craig S. Keener & John H. Walton, General Editors Published by Zondervan

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 2400 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Special ed. edition (Aug. 23 2016)
  • Sold by: Zondervan CA (CA SOR)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01863JQLQ

Book Description

Context Changes Everything

You’ve heard many Bible stories hundreds of times, but how many behind-the-scenes details are you missing? Sometimes a little context is all you need to discover the rich meaning behind the stories of Scripture.

That’s what the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible provides. Every page is packed with expert insight into the customs, culture, and literature of Bible times. These fascinating explanations will serve to clarify your study of the Scriptures, reinforcing your confidence and bringing difficult passages of Scripture into sharp focus.

Discover new dimensions of insight to even the most familiar Bible passages as you take a behind-the-scenes tour into the ancient world.

The Bible was originally written to an ancient people removed from us by thousands of years and thousands of miles. The Scriptures include subtle culturally based nuances, undertones, and references to ancient events, literature and customs that were intuitively understood by those who first heard the Scriptures read. For us to hear the Scriptures as they did, we need a window into their world.
The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, with notes from Dr. John H. Walton (Wheaton College) in the Old Testament and Dr. Craig S. Keener (Asbury Theological Seminary) in the New Testament, brings to life the ancient world of Scripture for modern readers.

Features: • The full text of the NIV • Targeted book introductions explain the context in which each book of the Bible was written • Insightful and informative verse-by-verse study notes reveal new dimensions of insight to even the most familiar passages • Key Old Testament (Hebrew) and New Testament terms are explained and expanded upon in two helpful reference features • Over 300 in-depth articles on key contextual topics • 375 full-color photos, illustrations, and images from around the world • Dozens of charts, maps, and diagrams in vivid color • Words of Jesus in red • Additional study Bible tools: cross references, a concordance, indexes and other helps

“How I wish someone had put a book like this into my hands 50 years ago.” - N.T. Wright, Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, University of St. Andrews, Scotland

“I cannot recommend a study Bible any more than this one: Five stars!” - Scot McKnight, Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary

My Review

I am reviewing the hardcover edition. This bible is also available as an ebook.

The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible By Craig S. Keener & John H. Walton, General Editors which is published by Zondervan is an excellent resource. It would be an incredible help for seminary students but I know that it will also be so helpful for the bible studies that I belong to. I prefer study bibles because they take away the guesswork when studying scripture and allow the reader to get more out of what they are studying. I love the notes, illustrations, introductions, charts and the maps. I love all the color! Colorful illustrations including the maps and illustrations are so helpful to reader. There is a great timeline at the beginning of the Old and New Testaments that are in color and are very informative.

At the beginning of the Old Testament there is a section on Major Background Issues from the Ancient Near East. I think that once a reader has the historical background, social, political and economic, they can interpret what is happening in the portion of the Bible they are reading and have a much greater understanding. There is an interesting section providing an introduction to the Torah.

At the beginning of the New Testament there is a section on Hearing the Gospels as First Century Hearers Heard Them. As a historian, I find that I have a much greater understanding of the books of the Bible once I understand the historical context. There are some excellent maps at the end of the Bible as well.

Overall, I find the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible to an excellent addition to my bible study library. I know that I will refer to it over and over. The NIV translation is my favorite translation so it is a winner right off the bat. I am a proud owner of this newly published bible and highly recommend it.


  • The full text of the NIV

  • Targeted book introductions explain the context in which each book of the Bible was written

  • Insightful and informative verse-by-verse study notes reveal new dimensions of insight to even the most familiar passages

  • Key Old Testament (Hebrew) and New Testament terms are explained and expanded upon in two helpful reference features

  • Over 300 in-depth articles on key contextual topics

  • 375 full-color photos, illustrations, and images from around the world

  • Dozens of charts, maps, and diagrams in vivid color

  • Words of Jesus in red

  • Additional study Bible tools: cross references, a concordance, indexes and other helps

Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: The Jealous Kind by James Lee Burke

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2520 KB
  • Print Length: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Aug. 30 2016)
  • Sold by: Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
  • Language: English

Book Description

 From New York Times bestselling author James Lee Burke—an atmospheric, coming-of-age story set in 1952 Texas, as the Korea War rages.

On its surface, life in Houston is as you would expect: drive-in restaurants, souped-up cars, jukeboxes, teenagers discovering their sexuality. But beneath the glitz and superficial normalcy, a class war has begun, and it is nothing like the conventional portrayal of the decade. Against this backdrop Aaron Holland Broussard discovers the poignancy of first novel and a world of violence he did not know existed.

When Aaron spots the beautiful and gifted Valerie Epstein fighting with her boyfriend, Grady Harrelson, at a Galveston drive-in, he inadvertently challenges the power of the Mob and one of the richest families in Texas. He also discovers he must find the courage his father had found as an American soldier in the Great War.

Written in evocative prose, The Jealous Kind may prove to be James Lee Burke’s most encompassing work yet. As Aaron undergoes his harrowing evolution from boy to man, we can’t help but recall the inspirational and curative power of first love and how far we would go to protect it.

About the Author

James Lee Burke is an American author best known for his mysteries, particularly the Dave Robicheaux series. He has twice received the Edgar Award for Best Novel, for Black Cherry Blues in 1990 and Cimarron Rose in 1998.

Burke was born in Houston, Texas, but grew up on the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast. He attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the University of Missouri, receiving a BA and MA from the latter. He has worked at a wide variety of jobs over the years, including working in the oil industry, as a reporter, and as a social worker. He was Writer in Residence at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, succeeding his good friend and posthumous Pulitzer Prize winner John Kennedy Toole, and preceding Ernest Gaines in the position. Shortly before his move to Montana, he taught for several years in the Creative Writing program at Wichita State University in the 1980s.

Burke and his wife, Pearl, split their time between Lolo, Montana, and New Iberia, Louisiana. Their daughter, Alafair Burke, is also a mystery novelist.

The book that has influenced his life the most is the 1929 family tragedy "The Sound and the Fury" by William Faulkner.

My Review

The Jealous Kind is the third book in the Holland Family series by legendary author James Lee Burke. Mr. Burke, who is most likely the greatest living American author, has outdone himself once again with The Jealous Kind. Burke has thrown himself into the Holland family and is producing the best work of his career. I have always been a massive fan of the Dave Robicheaux series but this Holland series is special.

My husband has read The Jealous Kind as well. He was mesmerized by Burke's writing and declared that every second line in The Jealous Kind is a literary masterpiece. Burke's prose is tantalizing and evokes passion with every word.

I believe that James Lee Burke has written an ode to his own coming of age in A Jealous Kind. This is a novel about Aaron Holland Broussard's coming of age. It is set in early 1950s in Houston. I do believe that as the reader is offered insight into the personal world and observations of a young James Lee Burke. This is a very personal novel about the realities of the 1950s in America. We all seem to think that the glossed over Happy Days world is the reality but I believe The Jealous Kind is closer to the truth. 

The Jealous Kind is a story about courage. It is a story about morality and standing up for what you believe in. To have integrity. To be there for your friends. It is a love story. It is a story about the real Houston and Galveston in the 1950s.  It is a story about multi-dimensional, fascinating people.

The Jealous Kind is so beautifully written that you ignore some of the scary things that are happening in the book. While these are young people, there is a lot of tension going on. Young Aaron seems decades older in his observations about people. He is definitely not shy about saying what is on his mind. The author is very realistic in his portrayals of all his characters. He doesn't sugar-coat anything. This is the real and gritty and often evil world. And it is a world where good things can happen as well. Good vs evil. Which will win? Well you will need to read it to find out!

The Jealous Kind is a literary masterpiece. A piece of Americana, the real America, for all to read. You will be mesmerized by his words and by this story. Bravo! Another winner from James Lee Burke.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Review: Sorrow Road (Bell Elkins #5) by Julia Keller

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1234 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (Aug. 23 2016)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English

Book Description

From the small towns of Appalachia they came, the young men who joined the fight for liberty in World War II. Now they are elderly, and some of them―like Harmon Strayer, father of prosecutor Bell Elkins's former law school classmate―suffer from Alzheimer's. When Harmon dies in an Alzheimer's care facility from what appear to be natural causes, Bell confronts a mystery that brims with questions about memory, grief and the lethal cost of burying the past. During a winter of record snow and cold, Bell and the people of Acker's Gap, West Virginia, face isolation and hardship―and the threat from a killer who preys upon the old and the sick and the helpless.

"A beautifully crafted mystery in which Keller explores love, hate, and poverty in a place of stunning natural beauty."―Kirkus (starred) on Last Ragged Breath

"What particularly distinguishes Julia Keller's series about Bell Elkins, a West Virginia prosecutor, is its sense of social conscience...powerfully affecting."―USA Today on Summer of the Dead

"Keller crafts a cracking whodunnit with many a red herring, but her real accomplishment is the unflinching depiction of rural poverty and the ways the inhabitants of Acker's Gap hold on to their dignity despite few and terrible options."―Oprah.com on Summer of the Dead

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

Sorrow Road is the fifth book in the Bell Elkins series by author Julia Keller. This series has been an incredibly eye-opening experience for me. It has opened up my mind to the experiences in rural Appalachia. The devastation brought about by the closing of the mines, the extensive job losses, the despair, and the drugs that have infiltrated the area. Through the eyes and experiences of prosecutor Bell Elkins the reader is drawn into the reality of present day Appalachia.

Bell Elkins is asked to help an old friend find out if her elderly father with Alzheimer's was murdered in his care home. When the old friend is killed shortly after talking to Bell, she begins to wonder if her friend's father was murdered. While Bell is exploring this, two more murders occur. Why are people who lived at or were associated to the care home dying? And why has Carla really come home?

Bell has plenty to occupy her time in Sorrow Road between court cases, a lot of snow, Carla being home and helping her old friend. Sorrow Road explores why some people stay in a place that is enmeshed in poverty and heartbreak. And why some go. Sorrow Road is also the story about parent's love for their children: Bell's for Carla and Harmon for his daughter. And it is a story about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how it affects all types of victims. As always, a tale filled with contemporary issues. Well written and plotted. Thoroughly and immensely enjoyable to read!

Highly recommend Sorrow Road. The entire series is brilliant.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Giveaway!!! Great Escapes Blog Tour: Cracked to Death (A Webb's Glass Shop Mystery #3) by Cheryl Hollon

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 875 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (June 28 2016)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0165HVIRK


 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Participants

August 1 – Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT
August 2 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW
August 3 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT
August 4 – OFF
August 5 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
August 6 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW
August 7 – OFF
August 8 – I Wish I Lived in a Library – REVIEW
August 9 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW
August 10 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
August 11 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 12 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT
August 13 – A Blue Million Books – SPOTLIGHT
August 14 – OFF
August 15 – MysteriesEtc – REVIEW
August 16 – OFF
August 17 – Sleuth Cafe – REVIEW
August 18 – OFF
August 19 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 20 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT
August 21 – OFF
August 22 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
August 23 – Kaisy Daisy’s Corner – REVIEW
August 24 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW
August 25 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – SPOTLIGHT
August 26 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW  
August 27 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 28 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
August 29 – The Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW
August 30 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
August 31 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

Book Description

 "A fresh and original new series!" --Krista Davis, New York Times bestselling author

When a treasure hunt leads to deadly plunder, it's up to glass shop owner Savannah Webb and her trusty investigative posse to map out the true motives of a killer . . .

It's the dog days of summer in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Webb's Glass Shop proprietor Savannah Webb has an eco-friendly plan to help locals escape the heat--a recyclable bottle-crafting workshop taught by reticent store manager Amanda Blake. Turns out, the class is a bigger smash than expected, thanks in part to a pair of staggeringly old bottles brought in by snorkeler Martin Lane . . .

Linked to a storied pirate shipwreck, the relics definitely pique Savannah's interest. But intrigue turns to shock when Martin's lifeless body washes ashore the next morning, another glass artifact tucked in his dive bag. With cell phone records connecting Amanda to the drowning, Savannah must voyage through unchartered territory to exonerate her colleague and capture the twisted criminal behind Martin's death . . .

"Cheryl Hollon clearly knows her glass craft, but better still, she also knows how to craft a good mystery." --Sheila Connolly, New York Times bestselling author

Purchase Links:

About the Author

Cheryl Hollon writes full time after she left an engineering career of designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the small glass studio behind their St. Petersburg, FL, 1920's craftsman bungalow, Cheryl and her husband design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass and painted glass artworks.

Visit her online at http://cherylhollon.com, on Facebook or on Twitter @CherylHollon.

My Review

Cracked to Death is the third book in the Webb's Glass Shop Mystery series by author Cheryl Hollon. Cracked to Death is the first book of Hollon's that I have read.

Great setting! I love St. Petersburg in Florida! And a contemporary topic...upcycling..not recycling but upcycling. Old bottles. But not just any old bottle...pirate treasure? Pirates and Florida...something new to learn about.

Cracked to Death is a well written fast read. Plenty of interesting characters. And a good mystery. Very enjoyable.

Highly recommend this cozy mystery!


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Great Escapes Blog Tour: The Bluebonnet Betrayal (Potting Shed Mystery #5) by Marty Wingate

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2129 KB
  • Print Length: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Alibi (Aug. 2 2016)
  • Sold by: Random House Canada, Incorp.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B017QLSIU4

Tour Participants

August 2 – Brooke Blogs – INTERVIEW
August 3 – Carole’s Book Corner – REVIEW
August 4 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – INTERVIEW
August 5 – Sleuth Cafe – REVIEW
August 6 – Babs Book Bistro – GUEST POST
August 7 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
August 8 – Reading Reality – REVIEW
August 9 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW
August 10 – MysteriesEtc – REVIEW
August 11 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW
August 12 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT
August 13 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW
August 13 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT
August 14 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 15 – The Book Diva’s Reads – GUEST POST

Book Description

Bestselling author Marty Wingate “plants clever clues with a dash of romantic spice,” raves Mary Daheim. Now Wingate’s inimitable gardening heroine, Pru Parke, is importing a precious bloom from Texas—and she won’t let a vicious murder stop her.

Pru’s life in England is coming full circle. A Texas transplant, she’s married to the love of her life, thriving in the plum gardening position she shares with her long-lost brother, and prepping a Chelsea Flower Show exhibit featuring the beloved bluebonnets of the Texas hill country. Technically, Twyla Woodford, the president of a gardening club in the Lone Star State, is in charge of the London event, but Pru seems to be the one getting her hands dirty. When they finally do meet, Pru senses a kindred spirit—until Twyla turns up dead.

Although Twyla’s body was half buried under a wall in their display, Pru remains determined to mount a spectacular show. Twyla would have insisted. So Pru recruits her husband, former Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse, to go undercover and do a bit of unofficial digging into Twyla’s final hours. If Pru has anything to say about it, this killer is going to learn the hard way not to mess with Texas.

Praise for Marty Wingate’s Potting Shed mysteries
“Marty Wingate plants clever clues with a dash of romantic spice to satisfy any hungry mystery reader.”—Mary Daheim, bestselling author of The Alpine Zen

“Classy, clever, and utterly charming . . . Brew a pot of tea and settle in with this immensely enjoyable mystery.”—Rosemary Harris, author of Pushing Up Daisies and The Bitches of Brooklyn, on The Garden Plot

“Just know that Marty Wingate knows how to write a cozy mystery very well and that you will be hooked from page one.”—A Bookish Way of Life, on The Red Book of Primrose House

“Pru Parke is one of my favorite cozy mystery heroines.”—Michelle’s Romantic Tangle, on Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Purchase Links
Amazon  B&N  kobo
iBooks    Google Play
 Books a Million

About the Author

Marty Wingate is a Seattle-based writer and speaker about gardens and travel. She is the author of the Potting Shed mysteries from Random House/Alibi, about Pru Parke, middle-aged American gardener who moves to England and digs up more than weeds. The first two in the series are The Garden Plot and The Red Book of Primrose House, followed by the third in late summer 2015. Her new cozy mystery series, Birds of a Feather, begins in June 2015 with The Rhyme of the Magpie. You can hear Marty on the podcast A Dry Rain, free from iTunes and always available at adryrain.net. She leads garden tours to European and North American destinations.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/martywingateauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/martywingate
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/453259.Marty_Wingate
Website: www.martywingate.com
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Marty-Wingate/e/B001JS1AIS

My Review

The Bluebonnet Betrayal is the fifth book in the Potting Shed Mystery series by author Marty Wingate. I have been aware of this series for a while but this is the first book I've read in the series. If I had known that the writer, Wingate, was so talented I would have started the series sooner!

I love gardening and Pru Parke is a gardener extraordinaire. She is a native Texan married and living in England. She has been asked by a gardening group from Austin to help with their entry in the Chelsea Flower Show...now I really want to go to the Chelsea Flower Show! The display garden being presented by the Texans is a bluebonnet scene typical of the Hill Country. Twyla Woodford is the head of the group and Pru becomes very concerned when the rest of the group arrives in London without Twyla. Then, before she is there 24 hours, Twyla is found dead in the display garden.

The Bluebonnet Betrayal is a great mystery. There are plenty of suspects and the reader is taken down a few wrong paths. I didn't figure out the murderer for quite some time.

I loved the London setting and the Chelsea Flower Show setting. Fascinating. The characters were all well fleshed out and I enjoyed getting to know them. Pru has found a gem in husband Christopher.

Highly recommend The Bluebonnet Betrayal and I am looking forward to reading more of Marty Wingate's books.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Review: Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2167 KB
  • Print Length: 229 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0310342996
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Stg edition (Aug. 9 2016)
  • Sold by: Zondervan CA (CA SOR)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01863JROC

Book Description


Instead of pushing for perfection

A few years ago, I found myself exhausted and isolated, my soul and body sick. I was tired of being tired, burned out on busy. And, it seemed almost everyone I talked with was in the same boat: longing for connection, meaning, depth, but settling for busy.

I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, writer, and I know all too well that settling feeling. But over the course of the last few years, I’ve learned a way to live, marked by grace, love, rest, and play. And it’s changing everything.

Present Over Perfect is an invitation to this journey that changed my life. I’ll walk this path with you, a path away from frantic pushing and proving, and toward your essential self, the one you were created to be before you began proving and earning for your worth.

Written in Shauna’s warm and vulnerable style, this collection of essays focuses on the most important transformation in her life, and maybe yours too: leaving behind busyness and frantic living and rediscovering the person you were made to be. Present Over Perfect is a hand reaching out, pulling you free from the constant pressure to perform faster, push harder, and produce more, all while maintaining an exhausting image of perfection.

Shauna offers an honest account of what led her to begin this journey, and a compelling vision for an entirely new way to live: soaked in grace, rest, silence, simplicity, prayer, and connection with the people that matter most to us.

In these pages, you’ll be invited to consider the landscape of your own life, and what it might look like to leave behind the pressure to be perfect and begin the life-changing practice of simply being present, in the middle of the mess and the ordinariness of life.


Praise for Present Over Perfect

Returning to the theme of decluttering everyday life and concentrating on what is truly important, Niequist (Savor) weaves together a series of essays concerning her personal experiences overcoming a life overwrought with busyness, stress, and feelings of inadequacy. After years of frantic living, Niequist has come to the realization that she’s missing out on the beauty of everyday life with her husband and children---that it will all speed past her if she doesn’t slow down and simplify, learn how to say no to demands on her time, and stop worrying about others’ opinions of her. “Present over perfect living is real over image, connecting over comparing, meaning over mania, depth over artifice,” she writes, explaining along the way that she’s found a new “strength” in embracing quiet surroundings and in spending time alone. To emphasize her points, she quotes Scripture, but does so sparingly and intentionally---more often than not, her included references to her faith are intended only to bolster her own experiences of mindful living. Her style is conversational, friendly, inviting, and never heavy-handed, making the book accessible to people of all faiths. Women will find the advice hits closest to home. Niequist’s latest book is her most satisfying blend of mindfulness, scripture, and self-help to date, offering readers the blueprint for a life lived in the real instead of the ideal. (- Publishers Weekly)

I begged Shauna for this manuscript a year ago while it was half-baked. When I finally received it, I read it from cover to cover in one sitting, then sat down at my laptop and wrote four emails bowing out of engagements that no longer fit my life, made two hard phone calls, and gave an end date to two other commitments. Present Over Perfect loaned me the courage, integrity, and permission I’d been waiting for. I will go to the grave thankful for this message. It has changed my life. (―Jennifer Hatmaker, author of For the Love and 7)

Most of the teachers I’ve had didn’t think they were teaching me anything; they just thought we were friends. Shauna is that kind of friend, and this is that kind of book. As you turn these pages, you’ll be reminded about what you have loved, where you’ve found your joy, and perhaps what you’ve misplaced along the way. Most of all, you’ll be guided into an honest conversation about your faith and where you want to go with it. (―Bob Goff, author of Love Does)

I cried tears of relief while inhaling Present Over Perfect. I cried because I’d completely forgotten that I don’t have to earn worthiness, hustle for love, or fight to belong. Shauna’s words---equal parts elegant and urgent---invited me to remember that my worthiness, belonging, and beloved-ness are birthrights. I can’t think of a more important, more desperately needed invitation. (―Glennon Doyle Melton, author of Love Warrior and the New York Times bestseller Carry On, Warrior, founder of Momastery and Together Rising)

I’ve watched Shauna walk this journey away from proving and pushing toward connection and grace, and as a friend, I’m proud of her. As a reader, I’m thankful to have these pages as an inspiration and guide. For all of us who yearn for meaningful, connected lives but find ourselves sometimes settling for busy, her words are the push we’ve been waiting for. (―Donald Miller, New York Times bestselling author of Scary Close and Blue Like Jazz)

Shauna awakens our desire to not miss our lives. Because that pursuit costs us our distracting habits, we need motivation beyond disciplines and rules. We have to want to really live and be with our people and enjoy this gift of a life that God has given us. Shauna’s life makes me not want to miss mine, and her words here will make you not want to miss yours. (―Jennie Allen, founder and visionary of IF:Gathering, author of Anything and Restless)

We live in a society that can easily have us running in circles if we aren’t careful. And this can result in having a life full of things we actually never intended to sign up for. Shauna helps us take a step back and reset our minds and souls. In these pages you will find wisdom and encouragement to see past temporal success and accolades to experience the deeper, more connected and truly enjoyable life. After all, it is the power of connection with others that helps us thrive in every sense of the word. (―Dr. Henry Cloud, New York Times bestselling author of Boundaries and The Power of the Other)

I have already read this book seven times. It’s about pursuing the present over the perfect---but it is nonetheless a nearly perfect thing, a nearly perfect book. Shauna speaks exactly to my condition. (―Lauren Winner, author of Girl Meets God, Still, and Wearing God)

With graceful confession, Shauna has created a memoir of her heart---a racing, fragmented heart that is becoming a contented, loved, and present heart. Reading this book heartened me for her, for her family, for her church, and for her generation. Shauna summons each of us to resist being sucked into the fast-paced draft of saying Yes and offers us a better way: the way of presence, the way of saying No. But this No is a Yes to something far better. (―Scot McKnight, author of A Fellowship of Differents and The Blue Parakeet

About the Author

 Shauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet, and Bread & Wine. Shauna grew up in Barrington, Illinois, and then studied English and French Literature at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. She is married to Aaron Niequist, who is a pianist and songwriter. Aaron is a worship leader at Willow Creek Community Church and is recording a project called A New Liturgy. Aaron & Shauna live outside Chicago with their sons, Henry and Mac. Shauna writes about the beautiful and broken moments of everyday life--friendship, family, faith, food, marriage, love, babies, books, celebration, heartache, and all the other things that shape us, delight us, and reveal to us the heart of God.

My Review

Check out the Present Over Perfect website!

I am a huge fan of Shauna Niequist. I have read and reviewed some of her previous books. I follow Shauna on Facebook where she honestly shares her life, her fears, and her accomplishments. I find her to be uplifting in her honesty. The title alone, Present Over Perfect, should be screaming out to everyone...read me...you need me! Present Over Perfect is the book that others have tried to write...have tried to show how we are wasting so much time with distractions in our attempt to be perfect. We don't need to be perfect...what we need to be is present. Present in our people's lives. Be there for all people.

Niequist is a great writer, filled with grace and wisdom. I applaud her and the life she is attempting to live now. The book, Present Over Perfect, is divided into 6 parts:

  1. Sea-change
  2. Tunnels
  3. Legacy
  4. Walking on Water
  5. Living in Time
  6. Throwing Candy

Each of the six sections is filled with insightful, honest, and inspirational essays. Shauna bares her soul and through the mistakes and miscalculations she made, we are able to see a better way. I recognized myself in so many of her thoughts and circumstances. How many moments of connection have I missed as I anxiously rushed through events hoping everything was perfect. God doesn't need us to be perfect though. We don't need to be perfect to fulfill God's plan for us. We need to connect with others. Whole-heartedly.

Whose voice am I listening to? What am I trying to prove? page 31

Exactly...what am I trying to prove? As I travel this book with Shauna I am astounded by her insight and her honesty. I am encouraged to have a heart for God that I didn't have before. I will slow down and listen to those around me. I'll be reading this one over and over.

Excellent book! Highly recommend!

Review: Behind Closed Doors by by B.A. Paris

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1176 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1250121000
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (Aug. 9 2016)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English

Book Description 

The 2016 debut bloggers can't stop raving about. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train and The Ice Twins 

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace.

He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do. Though, you’d like to get to know Grace better.

But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS by B.A. Paris is a triumph. Fans of Gone Girl, Girl on the Train and The Widow won’t want to miss this newest sensation that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.

The inspiration for the BEHIND CLOSED DOORS stemmed from the author’s own suspicion that a friend was caught in a situation with very little control, and unable to do as she wished... From there, she came up with Grace’s story. 

“A hair-raising debut, both unsettling and addictive...A chilling thriller that will keep you reading long into the night.” —Mary Kubica, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Good Girl
"This outstanding debut novel will leave you breathless." —Bella

"Brilliant, chilling, scary and unputdownable." —Lesley Pearse, bestselling author of Without a Trace

"This one is 2016’s answer to Gone Girl. Nuff said." —Women’s Health UK

"You’ll love this." —The Sun

“Perfect for fans of Girl on the Train!” -- POPSUGAR

"A frighteningly cool portrait of a serious sadist, Behind Closed Doors is a gripping, claustrophobia-inducing thriller...Read at the risk of running from every handsome British lawyer who crosses your path." -- ROMANTIC TIMES, Rave Review!

"The writing was incredible, and the pace is quick, offering up too many chills to count...Behind Closed Doors screams: Stay single!” -- SUSPENSE MAGAZINE, Incredible review!

BUSTLE calls Behind Closed Doors one of 10 New Thrillers to Read this Summer

About the Author

B.A. Paris is from a Franco/Irish background. She was brought up in England and worked in London for three years before moving to Paris, where worked in corporate banking and as a trader in an international bank. After the birth of her first daughter, she became a stay-at-home mother and went on to have another three daughters. She spent four years in the Netherlands, where her fifth daughter was born. Returning to France, she decided to re-train as an English teacher and worked for some years in an international school and then at the Université de Marne la Vallée, teaching English to Architecture students. In 2009 she set up a language school with her husband and now teaches Business English in Paris. 

My Review

“We go downstairs and in the hall, he takes my coat from the cupboard and holds it open while I slip my arms into it. In the drive outside, he holds the car door for me and waits until I’m in. As he closes it behind me, I can’t help thinking it’s a shame he’s such a sadistic bastard, because he has wonderful manners.”

Behind Closed Doors is a debut novel by by B.A. Paris. It is quite addictive and quite terrifying at the same time. As the novel opens, we learn the story of how perfect married couple Jack and Grace meet and marry. The story of how they met alternates with the present throughout the book.

Jack is a handsome and seemingly perfect London Lawyer. He is the champion of battered women. Grace was a buyer for Harrods who traveled frequently. Since marrying Jack she does not work and is the perfect hostess who lives in an amazing home and who of course must have the perfect life. Grace is also responsible for her sister Millie who has Down's Syndrome and who will be coming to live with them once she graduates from her live in high school. Well, what seems perfect to others of course is not. In fact, the tale quickly turns into a terrifying nightmare.

Behind Closed Doors is a twisted tale of horrifying depravity. I could imagine myself in Grace's shoes as I was reading. My pulse was racing as I tore through the text devouring the words as fast as I could.

Behind Closed Doors is a haunting tale that will stalk my nightmares for some time. It is an absorbing and addictive novel that you seriously cannot stop reading.

Highly recommend Behind Closed Doors. Available today, August 9, 2016.