Friday, July 30, 2010

Blog Hop Friday

Book Blogger Hop

Blog hopping around the book blogs.  Who is your favorite new-to-me author? I'm not sure I can answer this one because most of the books I read are new authors. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Classmate Murders by Bob Moats

Link to purchase Nook version at Barnes and Noble

The Classmate Murders is a fun and clever mystery. The story is written mostly in narration style, which works perfectly with this main character. You can almost hear the character’s voice as he tells the story and adds his own brand of humor.

Jim Richards is a regular guy, who is mature, divorced, and living with his parents to help take care of his dad. When he finds his long-ago high school classmates are being murdered, he and his friends step in to try to find the killer and protect Penny, his new-found love. I have read many books with female civilians getting caught up in a murder mystery, but this time it is a man who noses his way into the action. The cops don’t like it – until he comes up with some interesting clues. I enjoyed the variety and personality differences in the characters. It is also fun to read about people closer to my age.

It is a reminder to younger people that love can bloom at any age, but I thought the romantic antics started to get in the way of the mystery. Eventually it got back on track and came through with a satisfying wrap up to the case.  I especially enjoyed the last part of the book that sets the stage for the following books.

This is an enjoyable and distinctive kind of mystery.  Great prices on these books, too. Print versions can be purchased at and ebooks can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and other e-book sites.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Deceit by Brandilyn Collins

Joanne Weeks firmly believes that her friend was murdered by her husband, Baxter Jackson - especially when his second wife also ends up dead. The only person who may know what happened is Melissa, a former foster child, who has disappeared. Fortunately, Joanne is a skip tracer by profession and sets out to find her.

No one can create tension in words like Brandilyn Collins, and once again she has created a fast-paced and exciting suspense thriller. I had not heard of the term skip tracer before, and it was interesting to learn about that type of work. In her newest book, Deceit, there are surprises around every corner. The main character, Joanne, has to not only go against the bad guys, but also has to face those who believe that an elder of the church can do no wrong.

Matters of faith are always an important part of Brandilyn’s books. The main character has some very deep spiritual considerations she has to reflect upon because of situations that are created by her job. Of course, we don’t all have murderers in our churches, but the instances of church leaders who are not what they seem and divisions in the church by choosing sides are unfortunately very realistic.

This is another great book by one of my favorite authors. Deceit is a Zondervan publication. The author has a website here: Brandilyn Collins 
and a blog at: Forensics and Faith
Be sure to stop by and check out the mother/daughter photos at the blog - very funny! link for The Janus Stone
Book Description: As an old house in Norwich is being demolished, bones of a child are found – minus the skull. Ruth Galloway is called in to assist and she is once again working with Detective Harry Nelson.
 My Review:I wanted to read The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths because I read and reviewed her first of the Ruth Galloway books, The Crossing Places, and enjoyed it very much. I wish I could say the same about this book. In the first, the author used location descriptions that were so vivid they brought the location of Saltmarsh to life, and its story  about finding the bones of an unknown child was touching.

In the Janus Stone, those rich descriptions were missing. The mystery was ok, but it was again about finding the bones of an unknown child. There were plenty of suspects and enough twists and turns to get lost in, but it fell short for me. We learn much more about the two main characters, Ruth Galloway and Harry Nelson, but unfortunately the more I learn about Ruth, the less I like her.

One issue I have is that the main character has a hatred for Christians. In the first book there was mention of the character’s born again parents and her disdain for them, but in this book she really went all out to try to paint them as bad people because of their faith.

Does the author thinks that Christians don't purchase mystery books?  Ah well.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

Welcome Bloghoppers! Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy looking over my reviews. What are you reading?  I am reading Ridley Pearson In Harm's Way and Petra by T. L. Higley.

Together or Separate Knitting the New Twinset by Ann McCauley link for Together or Separate

If I had to describe this knitting book in one word, it would be – elegance. The designs in Together or Separate depend on simple, but beautiful patterning for their stylish looks.

The book begins with what the author calls “Alphabet of Musings”, which is really a miscellaneous discussion of the knitter and techniques. It includes instructions on buttonholes, increases and general knitting techniques, but it also includes health issues for the knitter. “Breath and Knitting” which has breathing exercises to practice while knitting, with other sections on eyes, back and hand issues that knitters face after long episodes of knitting.

The patterns included in this book are: a striped sweater with a separate matching cowl, a very classy mock pleat and rib turtleneck and skirt, several shell/cardigan sets, (my favorite is the eyelet and ruffle cardigan and shell on p. 27), a turtleneck/ headband/vest set, a cardigan and socks set, and much more.

The skill level of the patterns is a good mix from easy to experienced, and some of the shells are a good starting point before moving on to the cardigan.

These are beautiful and timeless designs and I am pleased to have this book by Ann McCauley on my permanent book shelf.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Heart Healthy Monday on hiatis

Healthy Monday is suspended for a while, but it will be back with new tips, hints, and great recipes. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

First Knits Projects for Beginning Knitters by Luise Roberts and Kate Haxell link for First Knits 

Learning to knit is easy if you have a friend or family member to patiently show you the stitches and help you through those first few items. Those of us who learn on our own, need a book that takes some time to explain the beginnings. First Knits starts with the equipment you need, how to hold the yarn and then a series of workshops. In the first workshop you learn the basic cast on, knit stitch, counting rows and stitches, and many more basics (14 in all). In this area of the book you will only need to knit. There are five projects just for these basic lessons, a scarf, booties, hat, backpack, and a pillow.

The book then takes the reader to the next step with knit and purl and then eight patterns using the skills learned in this workshop. Although for beginners, there are several in this section that I would like to knit. There is a really cute heart pillow with button on appliqu├ęs, a stuffed rabbit, a pom-pom scarf , matching hat, mittens, handbag, a lacy shawl, and a kimono jacket.

The last is the workshop for using several colors, with patterns for a beach bag, socks using two needles, a striped “throw” or afghan, and a baby jacket.

There are cover flaps that open up and on the underside of both the front and back are stitch guides, which I think is a nice touch.
It's a blog hop weekend!  I am up to my knees in books and will be writing several reviews this weekend.
Book Blogger Hop

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Skinny on Time Management and other Life Challenges by Jim Randel

To purchase The Skinny on Time Management (and to see their other books)

Book Description: The Skinny on Time Management summarizes for you the thinking of those who have spent years contemplating time and time management. This book will tell you exactly what you need to know to find the time to accomplish your goals.

My Review: This is an interesting, informative  and quick read to learn time management skills. It is plain, simple and to the point so as not to waste your time! It is not at all stuffy, but lighthearted, and I love the stick figure people and the Power-Point style pages. This book teaches the reader how to tackle procrastination, goals setting, focusing, creating a time journal, prioritizing, distractions, and much more.

The Skinny on Time Management has been very helpful for me as someone working in a busy medical office. I do have to say though that it would have also been helpful back when I had my first career which was as a homemaker and mom. In business and in the home we can all use lessons on using our time wisely.

I recommend this book for those in the business setting, in-services, homemakers, and even for teens in school.

Hand of Fate by Lis Wiehl with April Henry link to purchase Hand of Fate

Book Description:  Hand of Fate A Triple Threat Novel - When the host of a popular Portland, OR radio talk show is murdered, the Triple Threat Club—a federal prosecutor, an FBI agent, and a journalist—must narrow down the lengthy list of suspects who wanted him dead.

Outspoken radio talk show host Jim Fate dies tragically and dramatically when poisonous gas fills his recording booth while his show, “The Hand of Fate” is on air. In the ensuing panic, police evacuate downtown Portland, leaving FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges trapped in a high-rise building.
Crime reporter Cassidy Shaw is the only journalist brave enough to report from the scene as chaos overtakes the streets. And federal prosecutor Allison Pierce must rescue a child separated from her family even as she escapes the danger herself.

In the days following Fate’s murder, these three colleagues and friends team up to piece together the not-so public life of Jim Fate in order to uncover the stunning truth of who killed him—and why.

I was very happy to receive Hand of Fate by Lis Wiehl from Thomas Nelson Publishers. This is the second of a “Triple Threat” trilogy. I had previously read and reviewed Face of Betrayal and enjoyed it very much.

My Review:  I thought Hand of Fate started out even better than first book with an edgier story line. The same three characters are involved: FBI Agent Nicole Hedges, Crime Reporter Cassidy Shaw, and Prosecutor Allison Pierce. These are three likable characters, each with their own flaws, trials, and quest for the meaning of faith. Their friendship evolved because of the unique role each plays in investigation of local crimes.

I was disappointed, however, when about half way through the story all three women were dealing with tragic personal dramas. It started to read more like a daytime serial drama rather than a mystery/thriller. Another thing that I didn’t like was when the author decided to preach a message about a current political hot-button issue – and claimed Jesus would have supported her position.

All in all, it is a good book with an interesting story and is an easy read. I did enjoy the letters in the back of the book that the author received from several well-known radio personalities. Each wondered if they were the inspiration for the main character.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Think of a Number by John Verdon

"Think of any number...picture see how well I know your secrets. Think of a number by John Verdon is very much a traditional mystery with the action of a thriller and the taste of a police drama. A serial killer is taunting not only his victims, but also the police with his letters and poems. It is a tough case of multiple murders with puzzling and seemingly impossible situations.

While the mystery and twists were captivating, I thought that the real heart of this book is the interaction of the characters. Retired Homicide cop, Dave Gurney, gets drawn into the case by promising to help an old friend - who then ends up a victim. His wife, Madeleine, is not happy about Dave being drawn back into action. Theirs is an interesting relationship which is strained, but loving as is his relationship with his grown son Kyle. The way these relationships play out throughout the story is truly special!

I really enjoyed the mystery, location descriptions, and interactions of the characters which made this book completely satisfying. Of course I especially enjoy mysteries/thrillers and this one did not disappoint. A first novel for this author?  I hope he brings back Dave Gurney for another.

Note to my readers: The book contains rough language, mostly with the conversation between the police and is probably pretty true to life! 

Book Trailer:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Shades of Morning by Marlo Schalesky

Link to purchase or download the first two chapters on WaterBrook Multnomah

Book Description: When her sister dies unexpectedly and leaves behind a 15-year-old Down syndrome son, Marnie's world comes unhinged---and her past collides with the present. As she struggles to find healing and forgiveness, a man arrives, determined to destroy her. Will she face the consequences of decisions made a decade earlier---or will she run again?

My Review: Shades of Morning is the type of Christian fiction that I usually enjoy. Marnie is a flawed character and a woman of faith. She is imperfect, with a past that has been forgiven. She doesn’t always understand the directions in which God is taking her, but she follows.

Her “avoidance issues” are sometimes comical and her fierce love for Emmett is heartwarming even when she really didn’t want to be his mother. Her experiences in church with Emmett and the looks by the so-perfect couple in front of them were too true-to-life.

I enjoyed most of this touching book very much, but the end left me stunned and cold. Honestly, I wanted to throw the book across the room. Because discussing the details would be a “spoiler”, I will just say that I think it gives the wrong message about Down syndrome and the twist at the end was almost a new-age type of message.

A copy of this book was provided for review by Waterbrook Multnomah.
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