Book Review: THE WORLD BENEATH by Rebecca Cantrell

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Published: January 10, 2014

Format: ebook (315 pages)

Series: Joe Tesla 

Origin: Recommendation

***Though the author provides the free ebook, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Most would agree that Joe Tesla is a successful millionaire.  After all, his company made today’s facial recognition abilities possible, but Joe’s success seems to have become stymied by fear. Those who know Joe know he doesn’t relent to people or governmental agencies, but those who know Joe, now, call him everything but brave.

Joe doesn’t even understand how this happened. 

One day he was normal and one morning he was too scared to go outside. The doctors call it one thing while his former colleagues call it something totally different. Unfortunately, he agrees with most of them, during most times. 

Agoraphobia is known to occur, but it didn’t occur to him until one day, after one night, a couple of drinks, and a government agency fight later.  He’s been trying to piece out this puzzle, but he’s also been learning to adjust to life inside and outside his old Victorian home.  Joe’s Victorian is a home inside one of the many connected underground tunnels of New York City.  It’s owned by a family friend of his and much to her brother’s dismay, Joe stays here.  There are many secrets held in these tunnels and with his penchant for a puzzle he puts things together to distract him from the knot in his mind barring him from the world outside.  He often studies and explores these amazing places.

At least, he did until he meets Subject 523, known also as Rebar.  

It was kind of normal to meet strange people underground, and Rebar seemed to be some form of military by stance and speech but one look at this man labeled him homeless.  However, he wasn’t just down here looking for a place to stay, this man was taking down a tunnel wall by sledgehammer, and the pieces he already removed seemed to expose yet another part of the tunnel.  This man was so intent on his task he didn’t mind Joe watching him.  Also, when the wall fell, he wasn’t at all surprised by his discovery.  On the other hand, Joe’s astonishment leads Rebar to realize Joe wasn’t in on it with him and up comes the hammer.  Joe takes off running. 

What Joe Tesla couldn’t know was that his nightmare of running doesn’t end, it just stops for a bit and reloads.  Like in some gamer’s paradise, at every turn, something else is to happen and others will join in the fun.  

The rest of this nightmare begins when Joe Tesla couldn’t just forget about what he saw in that exposed wall.  He went back to poke around, but discovered his former threat as demolished as those bricks, and a new threat sends Joe and his dog Edison running for their lives, with even more questions.

How many people know of this secret?  How many of them want Joe dead?

My Take:

THE WORLD BENEATH by Rebecca Cantrell is a heart-pounding thriller with an infective puzzle!

Rebecca Cantrell brings to life the amazing world beneath the sidewalks of New York. Her character, Joe Tesla, is a down-to-earth computer geek who struck it rich but maintains his giving heart; his kindness and affection for people shows through in all of what he does, while his resourcefulness will astound you.  Joe doesn’t need his wallet to solve a problem, his brain doesn’t work that way.  Give the guy a can of beer and some Wi-Fi, and he could literally change he way you see the world around you.  He uses his powers for good not evil, even though everything he does is not exactly lawful.

Joe Tesla lives the story of many, but his world holds more dangers than these panic attacks induce.  With him and Edison, you’ll be racing the clock to find answers that can save thousands of lives, but his adversaries come out of the walls within the ranks of government bureaucracy, having more pull than any imagination could muster.

Rebecca Cantrell’s THE WORLD BENEATH is a virtual page-turner!

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Book Review: SAFE BY THE MARSHAL’S SIDE by Shirlee McCoy

Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense  

Published: January 7, 2014

Format: Paperback (224 pages)      

ISBN: 9780373445783         

Series: Witness Protection

Origin: Publisher through NetGalley (egalley)

***Though the publisher provides the free ebook, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Annie Duncan isn’t used to this life, to this name, or to raising her child alone, without any help from family, friends, or a job.   In fact, Annie—who actually isn’t Annie Duncan—knows she’s doing the right thing, but she does not think things will all work out in the end. 

She’s not having a crisis of faith, but she’s having a crisis of the human kind. Can she let go? Can she trust those who have kept her safe, even when safe can’t be safe right now?  

Hunter is right.  There is a leak.  Could it one of these people?  Who is friend? Who is foe? These questions are hammering at Annie who misses life, her child’s independence, and going to Sunday Services. Even through all of this, however, there is one man she doesn’t doubt. 

Hunter has been her steadfast Marshal, friend, cheering crowd, and babysitter, but all of this is just his job. 

Meanwhile, the latest danger surrounding Annie and Sophia has Hunter Davis questioning those around him.  And his attachment to this witness is gnawing at who he is and what he does.  Maybe, Hunter had become jaded, since many in his protection, over the years, had been placed in their situation by their own actions and their own design. Annie was different. 

Angel Delacourte’s only mistake was mistaking the wrong man for a husband and father.  And maybe it still does bother Hunter that despite her husband’s lies and gambling debts that’s he’s dead, not suffering, but she’s living a nightmare.  He’s a by-the-book kind of Marshal who is faced with knowledge that doing exactly those things can cause this innocent woman and child harm.  There is no doubt that someone is a leak, he just doesn’t want it to be one of those within the team.  Hunter has to walk a fine line of trusting those around him with only so much.  He also seems to walk the fine line of being part of this woman’s life but keeping from becoming apart of it, as the rulebook dictates. This, by the book, Marshal is now having some problems with the book, the life, and the job.  However, his problems with these can prove deadly for those he cares about.

My Take:

SAFE BY THE MARSHAL’S SIDE by Shirlee McCoy takes the amazing lead in this continuity series that amps up suspense and lets the romance begin, but she leaves you knowing more can come! 

Annie Duncan is a heroine who is great at being strong, but sometimes her strength is the one weakness that can put her and her daughter in danger. All throughout the nightmare she is living, the love of her daughter is foremost in evidence, and she knows her husband’s love for his daughter is true, despite his lies.  However, she must grieve the loss of a husband she loved but didn’t really know, the life she had that wasn’t what it should have been, and her own loss of innocence and trust. 

However, Marshal Hunter Davis charged into a career but left behind much in doing it. This was exactly what he wanted, but until now, he didn’t feel a loss.  Maybe that was his problem.  He just didn’t feel.  As a Marshal, one stays in the background, does the job, and moves on.  How could he feel and do this job?  Some of these answers become obvious, but some of these answers can cause him to make a mistake and hurt the ones he cares about. While he watches Annie and Sophia, Hunter has come to grips with his own mistakes and a grieving he didn’t even expect.

Shirlee McCoy’s SAFE BY THE MARSHAL’S SIDE is a standalone title, but also is the first in a continuity. I can’t wait to see what other suspense filled discoveries are abound in this series! With me, be on the look out for the rest if the WITNESS PROTECTION continuity: THE BABY RESCUE by Margaret Daley (Love Inspired Suspense February 2014), STOLEN MEMORIES by Liz Johnson (Love Inspired Suspense March 2014), and TOP SECRET IDENTITY by Sharon Dunn (Love Inspired Suspense April 2014)!

 

Book Review: FORGET ME KNOT (A QUILTING MYSTERY) by Mary Marks

Publisher: Kensington

Published: January 07, 2014

Format: Paperback (384 pages)

ISBN: 9780758292056

Origin: Publisher

***Though the publisher provides the free ebook, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Martha Rose, Birdie Watson, and Lucy Mondello are on their way to meet with Claire Terry.  They’ve discussed whether Claire would be a good fit for their quilting club for Quilty Tuesdays, and now they want to be sure . . .  

These gals are a bit dubious, as a previous new member really wasn’t a good fit at all.  All three women know Claire Terry’s quilting abilities, as she’s won many awards, but this grouping is made of friends not frenemies, and being an award-winning quilter isn’t a requirement. 

Upon arrival, it was odd the host wasn’t answering her door. 

The meeting was scheduled and therefore expected; Claire hadn’t cancelled.  Martha Rose looked in the window and saw someone laying on the floor. The resulting alarmed conversations brought forth the nearest neighbor to the rescue with a key, but no rescue attempts could help Claire Terry. This grouping discovers her dead body, lying unseeing on the floor with bloody hands. 

Fast forward to a quilt showing, knowing it would be her last, it was hard to see the dead woman’s quilt hanging with its award. However, what was even harder was to see her quilt and a few others stolen. A masked thief had caused many disturbances upon his escape, but a detective wants to know why these women seem to show up at crime scenes. Just when things couldn’t possibly get worse, Martha Rose was asked by the association to make the condolence call on the Terry family. 

Mrs. Siobhan Terry had a request.  It was one Martha couldn’t decline, although she doubted she’d be able to find anything.  Claire had once told her mother that these quilts denote her life stories.  Did they? 

Finding nothing stuffed inside the quilts begins a puzzle these three ladies are perfect to solve, but Martha Rose pays a price for playing the lead amateur detective, when death threats push up the suspense in this deadly game of hide and seek. 

My Take:

FORGET ME KNOT (A Quilting Mystery) by Mary Marks is a surefire hit in crafting cozies!     

These women are all in various stages and ages over fifty. Some of them have health problems, not so great marriages, or cheating ex-husbands, but they all they have close stitched friendships that brings each a support system.  Their love of quilting is their attachment, but their love of each other is their true bond.  Murder is a motive for growing closer and solving a puzzle, but it’s also a motive for keeping each other close and watching out for safety.  Maybe quilting is reason to kill, but it’s also a great way to gather clues.   

Meeting Martha, Lucy, and Birdie is a like being with a group of people you’d love to spend more time with. Their life isn’t yours or mine, but their situations could easily be any of ours. I chuckled, clamored, and clucked, but I rooted for a shot of romance along the way.

Mary Marks’ FORGET ME KNOT is a standalone title that will introduce you to the world of quilting, with both bad and good characters.  However, if you’ll be able to pardon my pun, you will find yourself on pins and needles until the next Quilting Mystery comes along! 

Book Review: THE SECRET ROOMS by Catherine Bailey

Publisher: Penguin Books

Published: December 31, 2013

Format: Paperback (512 pages)

ISBN: 9780143124733  

Origin: Publisher 

***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

History is everything but boring within Belvoir Castle  . . .

Why was the physician of King George VI expected?  Most astonishing of all, why was this physician and others awaiting the patient to be ready for them?

These questions show only the beginning of the Duke of Rutland mystery, while England was entering the fray of World War I.  Other issues plagued the hierarchy landing many in a state of turmoil long before the war.  In fact, to some, the war was a welcome act, to others it marked the end of a lifestyle, and to some, it was a fear like no other. 

To understand this time and culture one needs to understand the history.  Further, one needs to know that history has the ability to change, albeit not sometimes expectedly.  Moreover, one needs to realize the family dynamic.  The family position was, well, everything and appearances mattered daily. However, it was the first-born male heir who mattered most, but this young heir landed at death’s door. 

Was it an accident?  Or an illness?  Or was it something more? 

Know up front that a castle was not a domicile, but it was the domain of many families, each in their own place.  A major household such as this was not a mere building, but it was sustenance to whole villages.  Villagers worked inside and outside the estate and their work earned the family wages — “a feudal system”. However, many things had changed from a long-lasting agriculture depression, where many Dukes’ positions financially suffered. Land was devalued. It was at this time, taxes became levied on the ducal aristocrats and a stripping of their political powers were meant to castrate the bunch.  

The Duke of Rutland’s problem actually was far more reaching than this and scaled many years before.  To keep from losing land, the Duke was using legal maneuvering to disinherit his second and only living son, while his mother was using whatever sway she could to keep her family growing.   From war strategies to safe keeping of documents, this family weaves itself through actual history, in both the good and bad ways, depending on who knows about it and who was on the receiving end of the deception. 

However, what exactly was important enough to hide that would cause this Duke to die while keeping it hidden?  

My Take:

In THE SECRET ROOMS, historian and author Catherine Bailey provides a narrative that changes the course of her writing and research, when mystification is inbred with fact and becomes a point of view meant to not be seen.  Her resulting true mystery raptures the reader from page one and doesn’t falter!  

Catherine Bailey brings to life yesteryear that Downton Abbey fans will relish, and her riddle manages to capture mystery lovers and history buffs too. 

The lives in this story will have you enthralled, as you race to find answers that lay just beyond indecorum and falsehoods. Strong women, weak men, appear inside the walls of Belvoir Castle, but roles change as their time progresses. If you are like me, you’ll believe that just maybe someone still living is suspicious that things weren’t right in the past.

Catherine Bailey’s book, THE SECRET ROOMS, is a book I recommend!

Book Review: THE GOOD GIRLS GUIDE TO MURDER: A DEBUTANTE DROPOUT MYSTERY by Susan McBride

Publisher: Witness Impulse

Published: December 17, 2013

Format: ebook (372 pages)

Origin: Publisher through Edelweiss: Above the Tree Line

***Though the publisher provides the free ebook, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Andrea Kendricks owes her mother big.  This Debutante Dropout doesn’t flaunt or use her family position or wealth, but when a friend is in need, Andy asks her mother for assistance.  However, the repayment to her mother, Cissy, stretches a mile and then some.  For instance, Andrea Kendricks is now working temporarily for one of Cissy’s closest friends, Marilee Mabry, and this assignment is taking painstakingly long.   Andy wants to get back to her nonprofit work, but it will take a while.

However, just when Andy’s nearing the finish line for this temporary job, Cissy has yet another angle to wangle.   

You see one of the many dates that Cissy Blevins Kendricks imposed on her daughter has actually led to chemistry.  Her and Mr. Malone are doing okay in Andy’s book, but Cissy feels this relationship has stalled.  Now, Andy’s repayment includes attending the “soiree” of her temporary employer in designer duds to keep interested the many expected male counterparts that will attend. Never you mind that Andy has all the interest she wants in Mr. Malone.  

In the meantime, Brian Malone has other ideas for Andy’s time on that date.  This is when Andy comes up with a plan, hit the party, stay an amount of respectable time, and take Mr. Malone up on his timely offer.  

Accepting the duds wasn’t as stressful as Andy thought, since wearing designer fashions that made her look pretty wasn’t what this debutante dropout expected.  She arrived at the party as planned, but when she went to check out the video equipment, Andy got an eyeful.  Marilee Mabry’s daughter is, um, entertaining on the office sofa.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, the man she kept busy was the young stud belonging to her mother.  Not wanting to deal with this messy situation, Andy ignored Kendall Mabry’s rant about how awful her mother is and what she’s done to deserve this treatment and set to finish the job she was there to do.

Soon, the party was getting underway and Andy saw even more cracks in the behind the scenes on set of The Sweet Life.  The domestic diva, Marilee Mabry, fights with a chef and the chef’s retaliation is something that would gross out the toughest stomach. This launch seems to be headed for a mud match, but unbeknownst to Andy, the best is yet to come. 

Marilee herself has more than one agenda. 

Her arrival on set starts out with a rare, expensive bottle of Dom Perignon and a public lambasting of Marilee’s ex-husband and his wife (husband’s playmate during his marriage to Marilee).   The two women get into a physical tussle that ignites the flames of hell, literally.  The set catches fire, the sprinklers activate, lights go out, and Andy finds a body on the floor.  Seeing Kendall down and barely breathing in bathroom leads Andy to suspect foul play, and she’s not the only one.  When Cissy adds her conspiracy theories, things only go from bad to worse, but luckily Kendall is going to survive.

Despite the mayhem of it all, the prescheduled filming of The Sweet Life segment at the Dallas Diet Club member’s home of Cissy Blevins Kendricks is still on.  Stage hands, props, filming, and audio gear turns the beautiful home into a stage of false wood floors and fights.  More disgruntled infighting comes to the surface, and the domestic diva stabs to death a pecan pie.  

Soon, the filming begins, but a life ends.  While Kendall is alive and well her mother, Marilee Mabry, is lying dead on the floor of her friend’s home. 

My Take:

THE GOOD GIRLS GUIDE TO MURDER: A DEBUTANTE MYSTERY by Susan McBride is a tale within the twisting highway of the society pages!  

Getting to know Andrea, Andy, Kendricks makes her someone to like.  She’s down-to-earth, smart, and funny who struggles to keep herself away from the wealth, glitzy, glamour, and pitfalls of the high society scaffolding in Dallas.  The mystery is not just in the murder or the happenings but also in the people you’ll meet and their motivations.  While new neighbors are welcome, they have their secrets, but the employees of the wealthy hide their own agenda and come armed with knowledge.  However, you’ll also meet those who hang on to the coat hem to be dragged along for the ride with little of their own power being expended.    

Susan McBride’s THE GOOD GIRLS GUIDE TO MURDER: A DEPUTANTE MYSTERY ebook is a re-release of her original hardcover by Avon Harper Collins (2004).  The paperback re-issue will released January 7, 2014.  While this title is a standalone novel, you’ll want to catch the other titles in the Debutante Dropout mysteries!  

Book Review: THE HOUSE ON MAIN STREET by Shirlee McCoy

Publisher: Zebra Books

Published: November 05, 2013

Format: Paperback (352 pages)

ISBN: 9781420132359

Origin: Publisher

***Though the publisher provides the free ebook, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Tessa McKenzie loved being an interior designer at Master’s Design Incorporated, and she loved living on the East Coast.  In fact, she loved it so much she planned to return.  However, every minute here ticked by like a slow second hand in this hick town of Apple Valley that was buried in Washington.

Her past and baggage came home with her, but she never learned to let go.  Instead, she learned to leave, and this one decision was the best thing that happened to her, until she had to return. 

Nothing was fair about this. 

Her sister Emily and her husband died, leaving a garbage heap decorated like a Victorian, an autistic child—who hardly knew his aunt, due to her own infrequent visits—and Aunt Gertrude behind.   Although Aunt Gertrude raised her and Emily, Tessa always felt outnumbered by her sister, but dealing with these types of feelings after Emily’s death was just hard and wrong. Truth was she loved her sister, even though her sister would have married the man Tessa loved.  That marriage spurred her running away, of sorts.

In the end, this man didn’t marry her sister because the baby was not his, but he still lived in Apple Valley and had become sheriff. 

At all cost, she needed to steer clear of this man and her old not-so-buried feelings, especially at this vulnerable time.  Tessa did that by setting her goals and priorities.  As guardian to her nephew, Alex, and as only child left for Gertrude, Tess was going to clean up this cesspool and bring them all back with her to the wonders of Maryland.  Her aunt was fast becoming an adversary to her plans and her not-so-pleasant side seemed to be a permanent fixture. Why couldn’t she see that Tess just wanted the best for all involved? Her sister’s death left them all with more bills than they could afford, and this town left them with no way for Tessa to earn the money she was making at her firm.

To stay was never an option, they’d be bankrupt.

Meanwhile, Cade Cunningham had wanted to catch up with his childhood friend, but he didn’t want it to be over a sheriff’s calling.  At her house for business, not for personal reasons, Cade couldn’t imagine the flood of feelings he’d deal with seeing her here.  His little tomboy friend grew up in all the right places, and she seems to have morphed from what he remembered to a very fine feminine creature. 

How did he not see this, years ago?  Instead, all he saw was her sister. 

Emily and his relationship had grown strained, once his college years arrived, but he manned up and was going to marry her and support their child.  The joke was on him, when he found out the child was not his.  However, from the minute he found out she’d been expecting he was excited to be a good father.  Now, he still feels a connection to another man’s son, but his excitement for his aunt was something that he just never expected.

Years later, Emily is gone, Cade’s marriage to Darla imploded, and Tessa’s back home and wants to flee, again.  Not only can he lose the child he thought of as his long before he was born, but also maybe he was losing a chance to rewrite the history that should have been documented the first time around. Was there anyway to change things? Did he even have the right to feel this way? 

My Take:

THE HOUSE ON MAIN STREET by Shirlee McCoy brings you an enjoyable read with all sorts of surprises!   

Tessa McKenzie and Aunt Gertrude have a dueling mother daughter relationship, but their love shines through it.  Their feud is testament to how much they both want to do it right for Alex.  In the meantime, you’ll quickly love Alex.  He has a way of bringing the people he loves closer, even through his autistic environment, with music from his heart as his mechanism for communication.  In his music, you’ll discover clues for everyone to follow. 

Cade Cunningham enjoys his life and job in Apple Valley.  He’s done traveling, but he wants his roots here.  The slow routine and the town’s usual clockwork give him peace, but his town caused the break-up of his marriage.  Although their union lasted six years, it was fraught with problems that came from small town living.  The last thing he needs in his life was more relationship complications.  Sleeping alone, living along, and being alone does have some advantages, but the pit of his stomach doesn’t always agree.  He’s dated and made friends, but these couplings just didn’t click.  No sparks.  Maybe he’s better off without the sparks.         

You’ll enjoy meeting the residents of Apple Valley, uncovering the mysteries of this town, and rediscovering the romance that should have been.  Be warned that once you visit this place, you may never want to leave it!

THE HOUSE ON MAIN STREET by Shirlee McCoy is a standalone title that introduces you to an assortment of characters as real as in life with an array of stories just waiting to be told. 

Book Review: THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US by Cindy Myers

Publisher: Kensington

Published: October 29, 2013

Format: ebook (289 pages)

Origin: Publisher through NetGalley (eGalley)

***Though the publisher provides the free ebook, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Maggie’s father, Jacob Charles Murphy, had passed away last year—leaving Maggie his property in Eureka Colorado, a mystery that still surrounded the man she had never known, and a gold mine that held no gold but lots of turquoise. 

The French Mistress was a working mine, turning a profit and providing jobs, while Maggie Stevens carved out a nice life in Eureka, working at the newspaper and living off mountain for winter right next door to the man she loves.

This next door living arrangement was because Maggie knew Jameso Clark maybe wasn’t the kind of man who could settle down.  With all she learned about her father and the effects of war on that man, Maggie knew Iraq had left its scars on Jameso and wanted to keep some privacy in each of their lives.  However, Maggie never thought she’d be the one to burden this vet way beyond his abilities in society. However, the positive pregnancy test, in hand, told her she was about to lay a load on man who carried a heavy load already. 

Maggie soon learns her troubles in this town aren’t the only bad news around. 

Olivia, the barmaid at Jameso’s workplace, has her ex-boyfriend who followed her here and reinserted him into her son’s life.  The town librarian has her issues too that link directly to her family’s squandered wealth in years past and Maggie’s father.  Olivia’s mother, Lucille, is the mayor of the town has found a man of interest who strikes Olivia as all wrong.  However, she can’t judge a good man for herself, how can she throw dispersion on someone’s choice?

Lucille is the town mayor, runs the antique store, and is thrilled her daughter and grandson are here in Eureka, but Gerald Pershing has made her see something she’s been missing.  Lucille has been on her own, without a man in her life, and doing just fine, but to have a man cause butterflies in the pit of her stomach, has this mayor realizing that all work and no play as made this woman a dull life.  Maybe she’s at the right age to take a chance on love, again? 

Well, that question was answered in the worse of ways. 

Scorned, robbed, and humiliated are just a few of the adjectives that would describe her situation.  Will she ever recover?  How can she ever pay back the money from the treasury that she helped steal?

With Mother Nature closing in and cutting Eureka Colorado off from the rest of the world, will this suffocating close bring down the town, bolster this mountain retreat, or destroy its foundations?   An avalanche and more snow threaten lives, steals resources, and could end Eureka’s bond forever.

My Take:

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US by Cindy Myers will have you root for the town of Eureka and its townsfolk, while learning that sometimes loss isn’t what you think it is and more is not necessarily better.   

Eureka is a town of residents, friends, and family, where each new winter makes changes, carves out the new plowed path, gives a new direction to its inhabitant’s future, and has charity and helping at its core.  Frenemies pair up and people help each other to survive.

Cindy Myers gives us a town that has a mix of the young and older in their own messes but help each other through.  Eureka, Colorado is a place I’d love to call home!   

Maggie Stevens went out on her own, but even she doubts her ability to parent.  Olivia needs to let go of the past just to have the hope of a future, and her mother, Lucille, needs to realize that not having a personal life can be the one thing to set you up for the wrong fall.  Meanwhile, all of Eureka needs to stand together for survival in both physical and financial realms and be willing to go that last mile.  

Cindy Myers’ latest, THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US, is a standalone novel, but you’ll want to check out THE VIEW FROM HERE, where you can meet the townsfolk of Eureka in better days and great endings! 

Book Review: THE CHERRY COLA BOOK CLUB by Ashton Lee

Publisher: Kensington

Published: March 26, 2013

Format: Paperback (272 pages)

ISBN: 9780758273413

Origin: Publisher

***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Maura Beth Mayhew could accept defeat or fight to stay afloat.  She hoped to bring the citizenry of Cherico, Mississippi to stand with her, despite the pushback from Councilman Sparks’ doctored smile and caustic wit.  The nearly impossible deadline she had to expand the library circulation and utilization was laid out as an unattainable carrot, but she was up to this task.  With the help of some friends, she may be able to fend off this literary attack for modern business dollars and more votes for the Councilman.

At her favorite spot, The Twinkle, Twinkle Café, Maura Beth meets with her best friend, Periwinkle.  Periwinkle schools her friend in the finer arts of standing up for oneself, sales, and the correct uses for a gimmick.    

The first library pitch Periwinkle makes is to next person who wanders into her establishment.  Connie McShay is one of Cherico’s most recent residents and one of Periwinkle’s newest customers.   Does this chance encounter provide a vehicle for saving the library?

It sure does! 

However, she needs more than just a one-person book club.  In fact, she needs the town to rally for it.  The only problem is that books can be discussed, ad nauseam.  How can this hold people’s interest?  Seems like everyone has a like for dislike for a read, but if they don’t like the chosen title will they come anyway?  Connie McShay was the link to an idea that needed to be tweaked for a small town instead of a city. 

Armed with courage and an idea, Maura Beth needs to enlist the help of main library patron, Miss Voncille Nettles of Who’s Who in Cherico fame.  It’s hot July and Maura Beth watches the meeting unfold with thoughts about how to make this small group come under the book club umbrella.  Meanwhile, this meeting disintegrates into a snobbery session, putting the Matriarch at a disadvantage and Maura Beth’s library possibly out of business.

My Take:

Ashton Lee’s THE CHERRY COLA BOOK CLUB brings a city council as villain, a librarian as hero, and townsfolk with personal crises as family. 

You’ll enjoy Maura Beth Mayhew as a Melanie trying to revive herself into Scarlett, and you’ll get to know a spinster Scarlett who needs Melanie attributes.  Citizens young and old, new, former, or lifelong residents of Cherico with jobs or unemployed have a need for a library that isn’t old and dusty but lively with relevant topics and meals to share.  This library needs the family of folks that surrounds it to bring it to life and in the process save a life!  

I found characters in these pages that I enjoyed getting to know and a town in which I’d love to live.  Join me in Cherico to be a faithful library companion with a sense of family that was never expected but loved all the same and try the recipes waiting just for you!   

A standalone novel, THE CHERRY COLA BOOK CLUB by Ashton Lee will leave you counting the days to the release of THE READING CIRCLE (A CHERRY BOOK CLUB NOVEL) in March 2014 .

Book Review: THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS: A NOVEL by Elizabeth Gilbert

Publisher: Viking Adult

Published: October 1, 2013

Format: Hardback (512 pages)

ISBN: 9780670024858  

Origin: Publisher 

***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

The first brief appearance by Alma Whittaker is to offer her father’s story.

Henry Whittaker did not come from wealth.  In fact, he was born to a poor family in 1860, and his poor lineage shaped him into a child who wanted what some others did possess. This incessant drive to obtain what was not his lot in life took him down a perilous path that could have led to his demise.  

Death did not visit this lad, as getting caught a thief should have guaranteed, but in many ways, what he endured was much worse. 

The man punishing him said many things that Henry Whittaker carried with him through the many ships, storms, illnesses, and dank places he had gone.  The most beloved was that one day Henry Whittaker would become a gentleman. 

Truth be told, he most certainly did. 

Eventually, Henry took on a Dutch wife and moved to Philadelphia where his wealth seemed to grow as did his family on his White Acre Estate.   

In Philadelphia, you’ll meet Henry’s daughter, Alma, at the beginning of life being schooled by her mother and riveted by botany like her father and his father too.  Alma was treated as a scholar by both parents and by the gentlemen who visited her home, White Acre.  

Alma’s first love is the earth and things that grow, but her next love broke her heart and the one after that one did the same.

This Whittaker daughter comes of age and cares for her father after her mother dies, but after Henry dies, Alma leaves the estate to find some answers.  Will she ever find what she seeks? 

My Take:

THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS: A NOVEL by Elizabeth Gilbert is a beautifully written tome of fiction where one main character, Alma Whittaker, strives to answer questions of life itself.  Many of those same questions are asked today and those answers still vary.  

The marvel that Elizabeth Gilbert deftly manages is that she is able to contrast the father’s and daughter’s lives in an amazing way that ends up very much the same.   Henry Whittaker found his home in Philadelphia, and Alma Whittaker finds her home in a very unexpected place.  Father and daughter sail the world, each seeking something. Some things they indeed find, but other items stay elusive. 

Alma is a strong woman living in a time where women, overall, were considered weak.  Her botany writing must be disguised with only her first initial, since the educated men learning of her femininity would dismiss her reputation.  In the eyes of these scholars of that day her womanhood would take her out of the sphere of respected and placed into the category of polite.  In other words, she wouldn’t count.  Later in life, Alma demonstrates just how much stronger she is than most of those educated men and how much smarter she is as well. Alma’s life voyage leads her where she’s meant to be.

This timeframe in history was thoroughly researched as well was the sciences. Nevertheless, I must warn the reader that some adult content does make appearances inside this art of words.    

Book Review: DEAD SILENT by Amy Beth Arkawy

Publisher: Cozy Cat Press  

Published: April 18, 2013        

Format: Paperback (218 pages)      

ISBN: 9781939816047            

Series: An Eliza Gordon Mystery

Origin: Recommendation

***Though others provide the free ebook, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Goodship, NY is a lovely town for tourists in summertime and of those many whom revisit or establish a yearly routine of showing up.  With the many new visitors, Goodship goes through some growth spurts and some are not all good.  In fact, a new addition to the town ends up very dead and a gossip website about the many residents of this town may very well lead to this inevitable ending.

However, life in this small town will go on throughout all seasons and all seasons seem to have one thing in common.  Everyone eats soup at Soup Opera and this eatery owned by a former Soap star, Eliza Gordon, becomes the very polestar of gossip, bad behavior, innuendo, and sleuthing. 

Eliza Gordon does like having her fingers on the pulse of her adopted home of Goodship, but she isn’t the one pulling the strings behind an evil website called The Goodship Grapevine.  In fact, this site’s mission doesn’t just seem to be about old-fashioned gossip but is rather about the utter destruction of the townspeople, and while this site becomes everyone’s focus, the newest radio star runs a close second.   This man is not loved, liked, or even well tolerated.  Even Eliza’s best friend and radio D. J. /part owner, Midge, despises this man. 

The shock jock in question around the town is Paul Hackett, and it’s not only is radio personality that is questionable.  Midge’s brother suspects his wife of having an affair with this man, and Midge is the one who has suggested as much to him.   This guy seems to always be around the women and especially around young ladies who love the famed.  This eatery owner does wonder what the newly minted Grapevine website and the newest radio star have in common beyond the town of Goodship. Although, Eliza doesn’t just have sleuthing on her mind these days.

Her prodigal brother-in-law, Jonas, has returned home to the family estate.  

This home is in the same place she’s living and although this sprawling estate can still provide the privacy she needs, this living arrangement has stirred up a need to leave it and a curiosity about her dearly departed husband’s younger brother who bears a striking resemblance to her man.   It’s been so disturbing to her that she actively tries to avoid the man.  Meanwhile, Eliza is still in therapy to get over the death of her husband and move into a budding relationship with Goodship’s Police Chief, Tom Santini.  However, even her relationship with Tom is skewed toward her husband.  Tom was her husband’s best friend.  Despite her history as a Soap star, Eliza’s personal life was usually tidy, in order, and happily without much drama.  However, these days the only order her life seems to have is keeping herself busy at the eatery, but even Soup Opera was founded with and established with her husband, Eddie.

This former Soap star’s life is about make a turn that could lead to her murder.  Once the most despised radio host is murdered inside her best friend’s radio station and haunting flyers appear to tell everyone about The Quiet, it all seems indicative that there is something more sinister happening that goes much beyond the murder, and it could be infecting the town’s youngest adults.  Even if these two events are much unrelated, which they do seem to be, it spells trouble for Goodship and even more trouble for our soup designer sleuth.     

My Take:

Amy Beth Arkawy’s DEAD SILENT, is a twisty tale of mystery that will have you worried about The Quiet and about murder, while you turn pages hoping everyone will still be standing at the end!

Eliza Gordon is a widow whose grieving has stabilized into a steady ache with fewer tears but a cloak of sorrow remains.  However, her widowhood has also sprawled out into a wanting for change in life without the loss of her memories or the betrayal of them.  Given all this, her natural curiosity for crime solving tends to get in the way of real life’s changes, but a murder does provide refuge for her mind around a whodunit to give her some much-needed space to stop using therapy as a way to delay these changes.

I’m hooked on this series and look forward to the next Eliza Gordon mystery!