Saturday, August 20, 2016

Review -- Live and Let Growl

Live and Let Growl
by Laurien Berenson

When Melanie Travis and her aunt Peg Turnbull set out for the Kentuckiana Cluster dog show, loyal fans know the trip will be adventure-filled. And author Laurien Berenson does not disappoint in this newest addition to the series.

It’s spring break, and Peg has been invited to judge Poodles at the show, so off to Kentucky they go, meeting some of the series regulars there – Bertie, Terry and Crawford, top handlers and friends, who are showing. While in Kentucky, Peg reconnects with Ellie Gates Wanamaker, with whom she’d showed thirty years earlier and who had retired from the breed ring after a mysterious event a decade ago. Melanie, enlisted to squire Miss Ellie around the show, is surprised by the varying reactions to the legend in the Poodle world – from warm welcome to dislike.

Ellie comes from a wealthy family deeply involved in the Thoroughbred industry as well, which comes in handy since Peg has just inherited a pregnant Thoroughbred broodmare. Peg and Melanie visit the mare and discover how much there is to learn about becoming a horse owner.

In typical Melanie fashion, she’s drawn into solving an unexpected murder…this one with lots of twists, turns, Thoroughbreds and terriers.

Don’t miss this new Melanie Travis adventure…horses are the icing on the dog-filled tale this time.

Five stars

Friday, August 19, 2016

Review -- Deception Island

Deception Island
Brynn Kelly
HQN Books

 When Holly Ryan is mistaken for American heiress, Laura, by kidnapper, Rafe Angelito, her life takes a turn for the worse. Well rewarded for body doubling for Laura, who is supposed to be sailing the world solo, Holly thinks she has a solid re-set for her life. But first she has to survive her kidnapping and encounter with some real-life pirates, out to collect a big payday. Little do they know Laura’s father isn’t about to lay out any money to save Holly.

When Rafe’s son is taken and used as a pawn to control this sexy legionnaire, he kidnaps former con artist, Holly. Then he realizes the real socialite isn’t who he is sharing a deserted island with, and he is devastated by what may happen to his son.

Two desperate people with secret pasts and current secrets come face to face with danger and neither may make it out alive.  Tossed together by circumstances and attracted to one another, can they beat the odds? Can they defeat ruthless pirates who want to take everything from them? Can they trust the love growing between them? Can they find a future or will they pay the ultimate price on Deception Island?

4 Stars

Monday, August 8, 2016

Review -- A Haven on Orchard Lane

A Haven on Orchard Lane
Lawana Blackwell
Bethany House Publishers 

When Charlotte Ward attempts a comeback on the London stage of the 1880s, she has more than one challenge to overcome. And not everything goes well, but her daughter Rosalind steps up and relocates her mother to a quiet coastal Port Stilwell. It means Rosalind must leave the teaching job she loves, but there are compensations, including getting to know the mother she believes abandoned her as a child.

As Charlotte and Rosalind heal their relationship and then begin reach out to others in need, their lives expand in joy, love and friendship.

The cast of characters is interesting, and you want to get to know them, cheering for them to find their way and to find love and build futures, although some choose not to take the steps needed to improve their lives.

This sweet novel of love, forgiveness and growth is a wonderful read.

5 stars

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Review -- The Semester of Our Discontent

The Semester of Our Discontent
A Lila Maclean Mystery
 Cynthia Kuhn
Henery Press

When newly minted English professor Lila Maclean keeps showing up at the scenes of crimes at Stonedale University, suspicion is cast her way…until her cousin and fellow professor is arrested for murder. Lila decides she has to find out what is going on, now that the police believe the case is solved. A second murder keeps Lila in the crosshairs of the detective looking for the second killer, until another professor is arrested.

Her investigation puts her in the path of danger and when she comes face-to-face with the killer, Lila may not live long enough to clear her colleagues, let alone work towards tenure at Stonedale.

Ms. Kuhn has written an impressive debut cozy mystery. Her descriptions of academia and the stress of aiming for tenure hit the mark. And her writing style draws in the reader to see, hear and experience life on a campus. I, for one, am eagerly anticipating the second installment of the Lila Maclean mystery series.

Five stars!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Review -- Glory over Everything

Glory over Everything
Beyond the Kitchen House
Kathleen Grissom
Simon & Schuster

In 1830s Philadelphia, James Burton was a wealthy, respected, talented silversmith, but even more he was a man with a huge secret—he is the son of a slave and the master of Tall Oaks plantation in Virginia. He has been passing as white, but when his aristocratic married mistress Caroline becomes pregnant, he knows his identity could be revealed. Then his beloved servant Pan is abducted and sold as a slave. Fulfilling a promise to Pan’s escaped slave father, the man who helped him when he reached Pennsylvania, James agrees to head south to find and bring Pan home.

Caroline’s father, though, has learned James’ secret and threatens to reveal all unless James leaves his daughter and Philadelphia behind.

James knows the slave hunters who tracked him when he killed his own father and escaped Virginia are still searching for him. His journey is fraught with danger, but aided by new friends, he locates Pan and makes for the Underground Railroad, with the young boy and the woman who helped them escape. Will they all make it through the Great Dismal Swamp and back to freedom?

Seen through the various points of view of James, Pan and others, Glory over Everything is not a book you will soon forget. Although it’s a continuation of Grissom’s The Kitchen House, it’s also a stand-alone. It’s not necessary to read the first book to be drawn into the characters and their stories in Glory over Everything. It’s poignant, haunting, beautiful and filled with what love and loyalty, friendship and kindness can accomplish against horrible malevolence.

Five stars.  

Friday, April 1, 2016

Review -- The Summer Before the War

 The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

The Summer Before the War
Helen Simonson
Random House

It’s the summer of 1914 in East Sussex, England. Young Beatrice Nash arrives in the small coastal town of Rye, mourning her father’s death and hoping to land a position as a Latin teacher since she is now penniless, but she was raised to think for herself and may stand out in Rye…and not in a good way. Hugh Grange is home from his studies to become a doctor to visit with his uncle, who works in the Foreign Office, and his aunt. Hugh and his cousin befriend the young teacher, helping her make her way in Rye’s social circles.

It is a summer filled with expanding horizons, facing the harsh realities of being a single young woman in late Edwardian England, learning the social steps in a small town, discovering boundaries, stretching boundaries, facing a war and all its pain, and falling in love.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, rooted for the characters, ached for their pain, cheered for their joy. Ms. Simonson has a way of drawing you in to each one’s dilemmas and desires…making you really care about each one. Beautifully written, with attention to details that draw you into the time and the place, The Summer Before the War is a story that will stay with you beyond when you close the cover after the last page is read.

Five stars!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Review -- A Devious Lot


When Molly Appleton and her new husband go to England for their honeymoon, she promises no sleuthing or adventures. It’s a tough promise for the reporter and senior staff writer for Collector’s Weekly, but she’s sticking to her word. Then they go to tiny Marlow Crossing to visit Molly’s Aunt Tessa and her neighbor turns up dead. Molly agrees to help the local inspector with his investigation. Molly’s husband has to return to the US, but she stays on to work on the case. Soon, two more villagers are missing and the suspects are adding up. Who is a murderer and who is an innocent bystander?

With side trips to London and another village to follow the clues and ask some questions, for a while Molly is no closer to finding the murderer than is the inspector. When things start to heat up, you won’t know who she is in the most danger from…and neither will Molly.

From antiques to new friendships, there’s plenty to enjoy in A Devious Lot, so grab your copy, a hot cuppa and enjoy!
Four stars.