Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Review: Death in the Abstract

Death in the Abstract (Katherine Sullivan Mysteries, #2)

Death in the Abstract
Emily Barnes

Katherine Sullivan, retired Chief of Police in Edina, Minnesota, is concentrating on her art in Taos, New Mexico, when she gets word that her good friend, retired police officer Nathan Walker, is missing. She heads back to Edina to help the employees of his private security firm find him. Once there, she may not get much help from her nemesis, Dean Bostwick, the new Chief of Police, because he is busy trying to find out who murdered a woman he knew.

Katherine is also hoping to find time to spend with her daughter and grandchildren, but that won't be easy until she is able to find Nathan. And before she can find him another body turns up--a suspect in his possible kidnapping no less. Now, Katherine has to focus on Nathan's last business appointment, which was held in a newly built subdivision with a paranoid homeowner. Hopefully, she will finally find some answers to his disappearance.

Fans of cozy mysteries will be delighted with this book. Katherine Sullivan returns here after her debut in The Fine Art of Murder, determined to find her friend. Death in the Abstract is filled with likable characters and a twisting plot which makes it a good read.

This review was written by me and originally published by City Book Review.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Review: The Editor

The Editor

The Editor
Steven Rowley

When James Smale finds out his book is going to be published, he's over the moon. But that isn't the only surprise. His editor is none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. His book, Ithaca, is about his relationship with his mother, and Mrs. Onassis pushes him to come up with a more compelling ending. She suggests James should try and find out his mother's story, insisting every mother has one. But to do that he might have to find out more about his own story as well.

I felt a little torn about this book. The author has a charming writing style, and I did like the story about a writer struggling to get published, but at times, I found this book slow going. It almost became a chore to read, which is never a good thing for me. I can't put my finger on what it was that didn't work, other than the fact that there were times it just didn't hold my attention. I might have enjoyed it more if it had focused on James' struggle as a writer and in his quest to find answers in his life rather than spending so much time on his infatuation with Mrs. Onassis.

I can't say this was a bad book, just not the one for me but, I am sure there are others who will enjoy this work.

Thanks to Penguin Random House for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Review: The Crossing Places

The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway, #1)

The Crossing Places
Elly Griffiths

Ruth Galloway is a forensic Archaeologist in Norfolk. She usually spends her time lecturing at the local university. But when Detective Chief Inspector Nelson from the local police asks for her help identifying some bones found in the local salt marsh, Ruth finds herself involved not only in his case of a missing child but in a new archaeological discovery. The bones turn out to be from the iron age and not the present. Then a second body turns up. This time it's a local girl. Is her death connected to the disappearance of another girl ten years ago? And did the first disappearance have anything to do with the archaeological dig Ruth was involved with ten years ago? It's hard to tell, but it's something Ruth can't get out of her mind.

Now that she has discovered an ancient causeway used by iron age inhabitants, her former tutor decides once again to set up a dig and see what's to be found. Ruth has more on her mind than work. As she gets to know Nelson her feelings for him deepen. At the same time, her old flame Peter is back, after leaving his wife and he wants to get back with Ruth. But Ruth knows that the past is not where she wants to be, even if that is what she knows best.

Ruth is an intelligent amateur sleuth who is also a little vulnerable. She's a professional who doesn't hide from her weaknesses, which makes her a likable character. The Crossing Places was a suspenseful, well-written book and, best of all, an absorbing tale that I couldn't put down. I can't wait to read more in this Ruth Galloway series.

Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Review: A Way to Garden

A Way to Garden
Margaret Roach

The first thing I noticed about this book was the way the author divided her chapters and gardening into cycles of two months, ranging from Conception in January/February to Death and Afterlife in November/December. By looking at the gardening calendar, this way made me realize that gardening is more than those beautiful springtime blooms, we all love so much. Nature is living and often thriving during other times of the year as well.

A Way to Garden is full of tips on everything imaginable. But it is also a personal story of how the author has changed her approach to gardening over the years. The reader is encouraged to take note of their surroundings to learn more about what works and when it works in their garden.

I enjoyed all the beautiful photography in this book, and I'm grateful the author shared photos of her garden with readers. I'm sure this book is going to become my go-to reference for all things concerning the garden. Whether it be growing vegetables, attracting insects, how to cut the grass, or learning the classification of plants, this is a book that every gardener will want to have.

Thanks to Library Thing and Timber Press for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest view.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Review: Havana A Subtropical Delirium

Havana: A Subtropical Delirium

Havana: A Subtropical Delirium
Mark Kurlansky

I was immediately drawn to the title of this book. It seemed so sultry and exotic, which I suppose is how I think of Havana. I can't imagine a better or more appropriate title for a book that allowed me to discover so much about this intriguing island. Throughout the book, the history of Cuba and especially Havana was explored with a passion, warmth and humor that I found intoxicating and mesmerizing.

Many of us know about the revolution of Fidel Castro and his band of followers, but his book covers so much that was unknown to me both before the Castro revolution and after. I felt Mr. Kurlansky gave me a real feel for the island's people and their culture. I was quite intrigued by the numerous authors mentioned in this book, and while I haven't yet had the pleasure to discover these Cuban icons, I have every intention of doing so.

This was a highly readable and entertaining account of Cuban history and culture that I found hard to put down.

This review was written by me and originally published by City Book Review.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Review: Fatal Cajun Festival

Fatal Cajun Festival: A Cajun Country Mystery

Fatal Cajun Festival
Ellen Byron

The town of Pelican, Louisiana is putting on a music festival, and Maggie Crozat is helping out by operating the Crozat booth at the festival dedicated to selling mouth-watering pralines. Maggie is also helping out at the family's bed and breakfast located in their antebellum plantation house. Since some of the musical guests will be staying at the B&B, there is a lot to be done, mainly catering to all types of food preferences, trendy diets, and picky eaters.

Maggie's friend Gaynell is expected to perform for the hometown crowd at the festival, but another singer might upstage her. Tammy Barker a singing sensation who made it big in country music is returning to Pelican, her hometown, for the festival and she's had it out for Gaynell since high school. When Tammy's manager, Pony Picker is killed on stage, she isn't shy about pointing the finger at Gaynell. But Maggie knows her friend Gaynell too well to believe she's a murderer. Which means she will have to help police detective Bo Durand, who just happens to be her finance, find the real killer.

Fatal Cajun Festival is a fun, lighthearted read full of colorful characters and Louisiana style charm. With a picturesque setting, dialogue that made me laugh, and a fast pace that kept me turning pages, this southern delight was a pleasure to read. And if that weren't enough to inspire readers the author has included a few local recipes. I just hope no one will mind if I decline the sweet potato pralines.

Thanks to Netgalley for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Review: The Sun is a Compass

The Sun Is a Compass: A 4,000-Mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds

The Sun is a Compass
Caroline Van Hemert

Caroline and husband Patrick dreamed of making a 4,000 mile journey across the Alaskan Wilderness for many years. The time finally came to set out with the plan of traveling only by boat, skis or on foot. They set off from Bellingham Washington, with the hope of reaching Kotzebue on the western side of Alaska six months later. Caroline had just finished a Ph.D. but was unsure where she wanted to go with her career as a scientist. She felt a need to reconnect with nature and appreciate why she wanted to be a biologist in the first place after spending numerous years doing lab work.

Along the way, the couple encountered caribou herds, numerous bears and migrating birds. There was also a close encounter with a black bear who seemed eager to stalk the intrepid travelers. Luckily for them he lost interest after a while and disappeared. The couple also met some fascinating and generous people along the way, living in vast but changing environments. I can't imagine having the confidence to undertake an adventure across 4,000 miles of some of the most remote territory. But Caroline and Patrick seemed to thrive in the challenging and isolated environment.

The Sun is a Compass, is not just a recap of a physical trek in the wilderness; it is also a journey of heart and mind. One which made me want to head out into nature and enjoy what's around. It will no doubt encouraged other readers to see and experience the beauty of nature that we so often take for granted.

Thanks to Little Brown Spark for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Review: Gather & Graze

Gather & Graze: 120 Favorite Recipes for Tasty Good Times
Gather and Graze
Stephanie Izard

Readers may be aware that Stephanie Izard has won several coveted awards such as Top Chef and Iron Chef. She also owns three acclaimed restaurants, and now she has written a beautifully designed cookbook, which I found both enjoyable and practical. I love the idea of casual dining, and many of the recipes in this book are great for that purpose. But what I first noticed is the exciting and inventive dishes. While I wouldn't think of having Grilled Pork Belly with Sauce Green, Peaches, and Blackberries, it does sound new and different. In fact, after going through the selection of dishes in the book, I was inspired to think of ways that I could add more fruit to savory dishes.

I think the fact that this cookbook encouraged me to think outside the box and create something tasty but not too fussy is what I liked best. One of my favorite recipes was Biscuits with Sausage and Gravy, which is the best comfort food I can think of. There's a Greek Yogurt Chicken that is easy and enjoyable and Blueberry-Strawberry Hand Pies that are the perfect treat for anyone with a sweet tooth. There are lots of interesting recipes with unexpected combinations that I haven't tried yet, for example, Marinated Sweet Cherries with Whipped Feta and Sweet Corn Frozen Nougat with Tart Plum and Basil. If you are looking for originality and unexpected flavors, this is a cookbook you don't want to miss.

This review was written by me for City Book Reviews.