Saturday, October 31, 2009

Swope’s Ridge by Ace Collins link for Swope's Ridge

From the back of the book:

September 12, 2001. Four members of the Klasser family are found dead outside Dallas, Texas. In the wake of 9/11, the Klassers’ neighbor, Omar Jones—an American citizen of Arab descent—is convicted of their murder.

A month before Jones’ execution, attorney Lije Evans searches for evidence that will prove the man innocent. But Evans’ quest goes deeper than solving one crime. He is determined to find the secret behind the dark history of sleepy Swope’s Ridge—and how it ties into his wife’s murder.

Interlocking mysteries lead Evans and his team to the battlegrounds of former Nazi Germany, the dirt roads of Kansas, and a rusty cargo ship in the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, they discover a secret that offers the promise of great power—and the greatest temptation they’ve ever faced.

In the second book of the Lije Evans Mysteries series, bestselling author Ace Collins immerses readers in an intricate and deadly international plot. Racism, betrayal, and death-defying escapes compound an adventure that knows no bounds in this harrowing novel for suspense lovers everywhere.

My Review:
Swope’s Ridge is a fast-paced mystery loaded with political intrigue. The main characters are likeable and interesting. I do wish I had read Farraday Road, the first of the “Lije Evans Mysteries”, before I read this one. Still, it was an interesting and entertaining mystery, and I will catch up with the first one next. I enjoyed that the characters considered matters of faith openly and with honest feelings that many people experience especially after the loss of a loved one. The mystery behind a piece of property spans all the way to Germany and involve events in the past. It is all brought together to a tidy conclusion. Look for the next Lije Evans Mystery to come.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Arcadia Snips And The Steamwork Consortium by Robert C. Rogers

Link to author's site for info and to purchase Arcadia Snips
Read a chapter there, purchase the book or you can even purchase character bookmarks. link for Arcadia Snips
ISBN: 978-0-984129-00-3

OK – I confess! I had no idea what steampunk fiction was when ARCADIA SNIPS AND THE STEAMWORK CONSORTIUM landed in my computer.

So what exactly is steampunk? From Wikipedia: “Steampunk is a sub-genre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.”

Book Description:
In an era of bygone anachronisms and steam-powered ambulatory engines, a sharp-witted street-thief with a heart of semi-precious metal finds herself locked in a battle of wits against a secret plot to bring the city she loves to its knees. Arcadia will need to enlist the help of a reformed mad scientist, a stern suffragette, and a persnickety pigeon to unravel the mysterious past of the Steamwork Consortium - and stop the cabal of sinister mathematicians who would use that past to destroy all of Aberwick. Arcadia Snips and the Steamwork Consortium is both a cautionary tale against reckless mathematics and an accurate historical account all rolled up into one. In fact, the story is so accurate that you might consider it more of a history lecture than an illustrated novel.

My Review:
Arcadia Snips and the Steamwork Consortium by Robert C. Rogers is on the order of steampunk fiction. Just who is crazy and who isn’t will befuddle you in this delightful tale of developing steam powered machines and mad mathematics that leads to mad science. The brilliant and delightful Arcadia Snips is the main character encountering murder mysteries, kidnappings, air machines and all sorts of misadventures. Miss Snips and her cohorts must work together to save her beloved city of Aberwick. Highly detailed descriptions brings to life the characters and situations. The cast of characters are spectacular with their quirkiness and clever dialog.

The illustrations are wonderful, and if the purpose of the book is to make you smile at the clever back and forth dialog, then it does exactly what it sets out to do. If the giant mechanical spiders don’t amaze you, the probability engine will. This is a delightful story for young or old alike.

My favorite quote: “William Daffodil resembled what you would get if you dressed up a scarecrow and taught it to act polite; he wore his clothes as if they were an ill-fitting burden.”

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Midnight in Madrid by Noel Hynd

Zondervan link to purchase Midnight in Madrid
or link Midnight in Madrid


When a mysterious relic is stolen from a Madrid museum, people are dying to discover its secrets. Literally.

U.S. Treasury agent Alexandra LaDuca returns from Conspiracy in Kiev to track down the stolen artwork, a small carving called The Pietà of Malta. It seems to be a simple assignment, but nothing about this job is simple, as the mysteries and legends surrounding the relic become increasingly complex with claims of supernatural power.

As aggressive, relentless, and stubborn as ever, Alex crisscrosses Europe through a web of intrigue, danger, and betrayal, joined by a polished, mysterious new partner. With echoes of classic detective and suspense fiction from The Maltese Falcon to The Da Vinci Code, Midnight in Madrid takes the reader on a nonstop spellbinding chase through a modern world of terrorists, art thieves, and cold-blooded killers.

My Review:
I get so excited when I find a great book by an author I have not read before! Noel Hynd’s book Midnight in Madrid, one of The Russian Trilogy, was so good I didn’t want the book to end. The book has political intrigue, non-stop action, historical references, and descriptive locations. It is a political/spy thriller about international crime.

The story is wonderfully descriptive and includes information about art theft and historical references of Spain. The book is so well-written that the story just takes off and does not stop the suspense and surprises until the very end.

The main character of Alex (Alexandra LaDuca) is very likeable as she struggles with the moral and ethical decisions she has to make in the course of her high-stakes job. She relies on her faith, but also struggles with doubt and questions – as do real people of faith. This book is not a Christian book that preaches anything; it is a book by a person of faith who creates characters that struggle with faith and moral issues.

The other two books in this trilogy are Conspiracy in Kiev and Countdown in Cairo. Noel Hynd has also written the novels, The Enemy Within, Flowers from Berlin, and Ghosts.

I have read so many good books this year, but this is certainly one of my top favorites.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vigil by Cecilia Samartin link for Vigil

Book Description:
While Ana waits at her beloved's deathbed, she thinks back on her life and the incredible journey that brought her to this unlikely place. Ana's story takes her from war-torn El Salvador, to a convent in the United States, and finally to a wealthy California estate where she is employed as the nanny for a dysfunctional family caught up in the throes of a decadent life. Despite her own emotional wounds, she is able to bring love and healing to her affluent yet spiritually bereft employers -- gifts that no money could ever buy.

My Review:
Vigil is an interesting and beautifully written novel. Although you may think this would be a disheartening story, it was not. Yes, there is sadness, but is also a story about happiness, friendship, and family. Each character is carefully developed with Ana as the one moral constant in the family. Eventually she is influenced by the immorality of the family members and conflict occurs.

The story was captivating as Ana reflects back on her life starting as a child in El Salvador hiding from soldiers. As she tends to her dying love, she reflects on her memories of her mother and childhood friends to her life as a postulant. I enjoyed Vigil for its rich descriptions and interesting characters. It was a romantic novel without being a typical “Romance” novel.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cult Insanity: A Memoir of Polygamy, Prophets, and Blood Atonement

Amazon link for Cult Insanity

Cult Insanity is a riveting true story of a woman who lived in a Mormon polygamist cult in the 1970s. Unlike the polygamist members you may have seen living a wealthy lifestyle on TV, both in fiction and news shows, this cult lived in abject poverty in Mexico. It is an interesting story of the generational hold that this type of cult has on its members. There are quite a few people that you have to keep track of, but that is to be expected when the men had 10 or more wives and dozens of children.

It is an interesting story of self-declared prophets, poverty, abuse, murder and finally freedom. There are photographs, a map, and an interesting chart with the wives and children of Ervil LeBaron showing which ones were murdered, put in prison, or died by their own hands. The story jumps around a little, and I found it disturbing to read about the author’s complicity in keeping a woman locked in a room for years. It was just too simplistic of an explanation to read that this woman “lost her mind” when she found out her husband took a second wife and needed to be locked up. There is little information about the author's life outside the Mormon cult, but she has written other books which may include that information.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Daddy Goes on a Trip by William G. Bentrim

Amazon Link for Daddy Goes on a Trip

Daddy Goes on a Trip is a wonderful new book by William G. Bentrim that deals with parent/child separation. I am so impressed with Mr. Bentrim’s books because he writes children’s books of genuine value to help both the parent and child deal with difficult situations. This one helps young children whose parents must travel, including travel for military deployment. The book is beautifully illustrated with kind bear characters. Included in the book is a section for parents with other resources to help children deal with separation. This book would be perfect for preschools, a gift book, or for our own children and grandchildren.

William G Bentrim is a former teacher and guidance counselor, but he is also a grandpa and that is what shines through in his books.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Letters to Rosy by C. Ellene Bartlett

What a beautiful cover on this book! link for Letters to Rosy

Book description:
An ocean apart, two elderly women, Rene DuBois, in Germany and Roselee Payton in America spent time in the late ’40s and early ’50s as teens in the town of Bartsville, Georgia, a small town outside the city of Atlanta. Mendy was the third in the trio. The three were bound together by respect, loyalty and love for each other.

My Review:
Letters to Rosy is an interesting tale of two women, each with a mysterious story from the past to tell, who correspond with letters. With their health failing, they set out to tell their stories and finally share the truth. The stories are written in short bursts, as Rene and Roselee are physically able, in a back and forth method. As each story unfolds bit by bit, the tale becomes more mysterious. Although the story becomes quite implausible at times, it held my interest solidly until the end. Waiting to find out what happens to each character is what makes this book so intriguing. The book has more twists and turns than a mountain road, but it all comes together by the end in this story of romance, mystery and crime.

Just a Little Travel

I feel like Johnny Cash in his song I've Been Everywhere

"I've been everywhere, man
I've been everywhere, man
Crossed the deserts bare, man
I've breathed the mountain air, man
Of travel I've had my share, man
I've been everywhere"

Packed up the Hummer and my husband, the dog, and I set off on a road trip.  We traveled through 13 states in 2 1/2 weeks and saw some amazing sites and several National Parks, including Big Bend, Yosemite, and Death Valley.  We also saw some things that make me realize this is no longer the America I grew up in, and that is disappointing.  I am happy to be home, but I may never feel safe traveling by car again. While our Internet access was spotty, I did read some of my review books and will now get busy with posting the reviews. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm still here

I haven't blogged in a couple of weeks, but I have a good reason!  I have several reviews that I just have to get in print.  I will let you all in on my adventure in about a week.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Until Now by Denise Skelton link for Until Now

Terry Meyers is a recent divorcee with 2 sons and more money problems than she can handle. The ex-husband won’t help, and her hot temper gets her in too much trouble to hang on to her job. She swears off men for one year as she tries to put her life and career on the right track. Well, she tries to swear off men.

Until now is a smart, clever, and funny romantic story of two people who are trying to make a good life from a bad start. Watching Terry have to deal with her children, her niece, an ex, and a new hot guy makes this book a fun read. The situations in which the character finds herself are comical. OK, she doesn’t FIND herself in them; she quite handily makes them happen all by herself. Wade, is almost the perfect man, but struggles with harsh family problems.
I enjoyed Until Now very much. Although there are a few sex scenes, the majority of the book is about Terry’s life, friends, and family.  Absolutely a five-star book!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Over the Gap by Dave Patterson link for Over the Gap

My Ramblings:
Times have changed. No longer does a young person find a job, work their way up the ladders of success and then retire with the same company. More often, older workers find themselves laid off or forced out. With today’s economy on top of that, younger and older job searchers are finding the job market a tough place to be.

My Review:
Over The Gap is an excellent resource for those who are serious about looking for quality employment or are interested in a career change. Written in both instruction and workbook style, it challenges the reader to take a thoughtful look at their goals, skills, and area of employment they desire. The book has charts, worksheets, sample letters, and much more. The author, Dave Patterson, is a Business, Executive and Career Coach with an understanding of today’s job market, and his advice is a complete look at the challenge, the process of the search, and targeted goal.

The book shows the reader how to market themselves for the career they desire. It explains proper networking, and the interviewing experience.   Chapter 9: Creating a Position for Yourself might sound overreaching, but I especially enjoyed reading it because it actually happened for me a few years ago.

Finding your place in today’s job market is hard work and takes research and skill. Over the Gap is a powerful book that will assist the job seeker in a systematic method to success. I recommend this book for individuals, schools, and employment assistance agencies.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The First Thirty Seconds by Stephen M Armstrong link for The First Thirty Seconds

Simple, beautiful, concise, thoughtful, and meaningful are all words to describe The First Thirty Seconds. At each turn of the page the reader is presented with a thoughtful sentence or paragraph of various subjects and then a reflection on the opposite page. All of the topics are presented to help the reader focus on positive thoughts and behaviors.

The book is presented in the style of a devotional with each double page to be read individually so that there is an opportunity to ponder and apply to the reader’s life. The topics covered are all of the things we encounter in our everyday lives and the feelings and thoughts that can hinder us if we let them. What a wonderful way to start the day by reading, contemplating, and applying the thoughts presented! Then to be able to use what you learn to make choices through the day that reflect a righteousness of character and goodness.

I would recommend this book for anyone who would like to start their day in a positive manner. The book has one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen, and with each page decoratively framed, I would especially recommend the book as a gift.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman link for Cake Keeper Cakes

Book Description:

CAKE KEEPER CAKES: 100 Simple Recipes for Extraordinary Bundt Cakes, Pound Cakes, Snacking Cakes, and Other Good-to-the-Last Crumb A unique collection of 100 recipes for unadorned cakes, Cake Keepers’ cakes were designed to be simple enough to bake in the space between homework and dinnertime, but interesting enough to present with a flourish at the end of a dinner party.

Cake Keeper Cakes is a wonderful collection of cake recipes for everyday cooks. The recipe instructions are clear, and the ingredients are easy to find in your local store, which is especially important for those of us who live in small towns. The book, however, is not your ordinary cake cookbook. The variety and uniqueness of the recipes is quite impressive. With recipes for round, loaf, bundt, crumb, chiffon and angel food cakes, there is a wide variety of cake types. There are unique recipes such as one that contains chipotle pepper, a cinnamon pudding cake, and how can you get more decadent than Nutella Swirl Pound Cake!

In Cake Keeper Cakes there are recipes for everyday cooking and more spectacular recipes for entertaining. Beautiful, tantalizing photographs are the icing on this cake book.
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