Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Ghosts of Painting Past - A Review

Ghosts of Painting Past

Sybil Johnson

Ricky Zeppelin had finally come home. Ricky had left home twenty years earlier to surf the world’s great beaches. He had identified most of them in those final months before the end of high school, locating decals that he had plastered on his surfboard so others would know his planned destinations as he traveled the world. 

And now he had returned home. At least his bones did.

Home for Ricky and the other characters in Sybil Johnson’s newest book is a seaside town in Los Angeles County, California. The discovery of Ricky’s bones raised questions - when did he die, where did he die, how did he die? And did any of the current residents know more than they were saying? Aurora (Rory) Anderson lived across the street from where the bones were discovered. She, her family, her friends, and her neighbors, would soon find themselves in the midst of the decades-old mystery that could and did have deadly consequences.

The story did not stall - moving from one piece of evidence to another. Rory is an independent IT consultant, working from her home, though the events in this book would seem to leave her little time to work at her computer. I expect most contractors would be disappointed in the amount of effort she gives to her primary career. Of course, if Rory spent more time at her keyboard, the events of that Christmas season would not have been nearly as exciting. Though not crucial or distracting from the story, readers should be aware that the story is LBGT friendly.

A well-written cozy mystery that reflects much of 21st-century culture for those living in Southern California. For those looking for a Christmas themed cozy mystery centered on the warm shores of the Pacific Ocean, Ghosts of Painting Past is worth reading this holiday season.

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

A Crafter Quilts A Crime - A Review

A Crafter Quilts A Crime 

Holly Quinn

My first reaction was that this book was more “cozy” than “mystery”. I was wrong.

All small towns in Wisconsin are alike - for example, they each have their annual festivals. Oh, they may come at different seasons of the year, but they do occur. Heartford, Wisconsin’s “Fire and Ice” event took place in winter in the first weeks of January. It was scheduled to end with the bonfire late in the evening where the town would burn its collection of well-used Christmas Trees from the previous year’s advent celebration. Scheduled, but for some “Fire and Ice” would end hours earlier with the unexpected death of Wanda.

And with Wanda’s passing, the S.H.E.s (a group of two sisters and a cousin, Sammy, Heide, and Ellie) began gathering evidence; evidence which would eventually lead to a kidnapping. Much of the action centers around Sammy’s craft shop located across the street from Liquid Joy, the local coffee shop. But we also spend time on the rural farms and in the homes of local citizens impacted by Wanda’s demise.

Having spent six years living in a small town in southern Wisconsin, this reader felt right at home - though murder was not part of my personal experience, car theft was. For the reader looking for a book focusing on the Winter months with an interesting cast of characters, Holly Quinn’s latest work may be a worthwhile choice. Bundle up and open the book and find your newest vacation spot - including the quilt trail maps that define most of the region. After reading, you may want to schedule a spring or summer visit.

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Always Look Twice - A Review

Always Look Twice 


Elizabeth Goddard

Harper Reynolds was a forensic photographer - but too much exposure to the horrific scenes she had snapped over the years required that she take a break. As her break was coming to an end she found herself in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, south of Yellowstone National Park. As she was photographing the grizzly bear on the banks of the Grayback River something caught her eye. It was a hunter. But he was not hunting deer or bear, he was hunting that woman. And Harper watched as she was murdered in the moments that followed. Thus begins Elizabeth Goddard’s latest book. 

In a story that takes the reader from Missouri to Wyoming to Texas, we are presented with a life and death drama that involves first responders from the national government and from multiple states and agencies. It is a gripping tale that holds the reader’s attention from the first chapter to the last - this reader’s heart could not stop pounding. The author does a wonderful job of describing the wildness that is found in the National Forest - whether seen on horseback or on foot. She is less successful in describing the downtown Dallas theater where the story finds its resolution, this reader’s only disappointment in reading the book.

A faith-based novel, Elizabeth Goddard book will find a willing home in the church library. But given its exciting and riveting story, it also belongs on the public library shelf. For the reader looking for a good fall story from a colorful writer, Always Look Twice may just fill the bill. 

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Dark Ambitions - A Review

Dark Ambitions 

Irene Hannon

The hired gun had missed his target! He had found him, but he had not killed him - now he had until the end of the week to do so. And he promised results, even if he had to do it his own way.

On the other hand, Rick Jordan was also looking for Boomer -- not to kill him but to save him. He had not seen him, but Rick knew he had been there. He had seen the blood, he found the items that only Boomer would have left, and he had made a promise as well.  And he would keep it.

Thus begins Irene Hannon’s newest thriller. Set in rural Missouri, the search for Boomer and his hunter would press Rick to his limits and would involve the team of private investigators from Phoenix, Inc. in an increasingly dark case. The book held this reader’s attention from page one - actually before page one, if one counts the prologue.  

Hannon’s faith-based thriller will provide a great winter read for those who enjoy the genre. The book will easily fit into the church library collection as well as that of many public libraries. For the reader looking for the perfect book to read this winter, Dark Ambitions may fill the bill.

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Deadly Intentions - A Review

Deadly Intentions 

Lisa Harris

Three suspicious deaths, one company, one project; and he did not believe in coincidences. Josh Solomon had not seen the problem, but his wife’s colleague, Caitlyn Lindsey did and together they would need to pull together the evidence to demonstrate the very real, not theoretical, issue of bioterrorism in Houston, Texas.

Lisa Harris has written a faith-based, romantic, thriller, that this reader could not put down. The mix of science, mystery, and bioterrorism, make the author’s latest book one of her best.

Whether one is looking for a great fall read, a book to add to the church or local public library, or as a gift for an avid reader, Deadly Intentions may just fill the bill
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Thanksgiving in Paradise - A Review

Thanksgiving in Paradise

byKathi Daley

Paradise is small-town America, located along the shore of Paradise Lake, with the normal collection of small-town businesses - the kind of place most of us might like to visit. Near the center of town sits the bank, the police station, and the town hall. And that was the problem. On Tuesday, October 31, the Town Hall had exploded. At least two were dead, several were injured, and “TJ” Jensen was trapped in the building which was about to collapse. She would be free, but it would take three weeks to identify the guilty party.

Kathi Daley is a capable writer whose cozy mysteries I have enjoyed in the past. As expected, the characters are interesting and believable. The same can be said about the scenic setting in which Paradise calls home. However, Thanksgiving in Paradise takes an approach to resolving the mystery of the bombed town hall that this reader found disappointing. Rather than slowly uncovering clues during the course of the story, the author seems to drop clues from nowhere on to the amateur and professional detectives that form the core of the story. Of course the same is true for the reader. Henery Press and Kathi Daley have done better. I was left feeling disappointed.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

It's A Numberful World - A Review

I picked up the book expecting to find an assortment of number and mathematical based trivia. Though not entirely wrong, the book is more scholarly than the typical trivia book. The book is not full of equations but is aimed much more at the visual learner - filled with illustrations and graphs. Each chapter tackles a specific topic of interest in mathematics and illustrates its place in our natural world.  For example, Chapter 7 is entitled “What Sunflowers Know About the Universe”. In the course of 20 pages the author takes the reader through a study of symmetry, into a discussion of the golden ratio, and concludes by saying:

A BRIEF NOTE: It’s not really that sunflowers are intelligent beings who worked out the equations to come to this conclusion -- but simply that any ancestral sunflowers that didn’t use the golden ratio produced fewer seeds per flower, and were therefore weeded out by the process of natural selection. But the fact that this natural algorithm should arrive at a mathematical truth like this is almost as beautiful as the fact that human beings calculated it through their ingenuity and insight!

The author, an Australian public school teacher, has been named Australia’s “Teacher of the Year” and identified as one of the top ten teachers of the world. In 2018, he was named “Australia’s Local Hero of the Year”.  This book serves as great evidence for the validity of those honors. More information about the author can be found on Wikipedia and with a Google search. As a Christian, I found the dedication of interest:

Dedicated to the Author of Life
“Mathematics is the language with
which God has written the universe.”
—Galileo Galilei

Though mathematical, it is not a difficult read - and will be enjoyed by many.  Whether a mathematician, a physicist, a general lover of knowledge, this book has a place on your bookshelf or bed stand. The junior high and high school library will want a copy on their shelves. This is also true of the liberal arts college library. It is less likely to be found on the shelves of the university library, but perhaps on the coffee table in the math department’s lounge. 
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.