Monday, March 30, 2020

Review: A Bitter Feast

A Bitter Feast (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James, #18)

A Bitter Feast
Deborah Crombie

When Duncan Kincaid and wife Gemma James, both detectives at Scotland Yard, are invited to a weekend in the Cotswolds, they are expecting a relaxing break. But then Duncan is involved in a car crash that leaves a local woman and a once-famous chef dead. It seems the weekend may turn into something far less relaxing than they'd planned.

The couple and their children are staying with Melody Talbot and her parents at the beautiful country estate known as Beck House. During a local lunch put on by Melody's mother and catered by a local chef, Duncan and Gemma find themselves drawn into the investigation of the car accident. When a mysterious murder takes place in the village, more attention is focused on chef Viv Holland, who once worked for the famous chef.

A Bitter Feast is a fast-paced mystery with wonderfully developed characters and a storyline that makes it hard to put down. The author has a fantastic way of switching between characters and scenes to heighten the suspense, and I think that's what makes this such a riveting read. Having finished this one, I know I want to read another in this series. I'm wondering how it is that I hadn't heard of this author before now.

This review was originally written by me for City Book Review.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Review: The Queen's SIsters

The Queen's Sisters: The Lives of the Sisters of Elizabeth Woodville

The Queen's Sisters
Sarah J. Hodder

When Elizabeth Woodville married King Edward IV in secret in 1464, the fortunes of her family changed. The Queen's Sisters looks at the less documented lives of Elizabeth's sisters, with each chapter dedicated to one of her six or possibly seven sisters. The lives of these women were often exciting but also full of uncertainties and tragedies, especially when the fathers, husbands, or brothers were called to war or caught up in political intrigue and were faced with conflicting loyalties.

I found this book well written, easy to read, and full of interesting information. I liked that the author pointed out the role women were expected to play within the household and managing estates, especially when their husbands were away. It is hard to imagine how girls who married so young must have felt when they were expected to move in with in-laws and grow up away from their own families. Also, the fact that widows gained some independence after the death of a husband only to lose much of that if they remarried, almost made me wonder why they would even contemplate another marital alliance unless they were forced to do so.

It is sad to think how little was documented about the Queen's sisters. Considering their advantageous marriages and the fact that they were close to the center of power, one would think there would be more information available about them. And although the author might not have intended it, I found myself rather bothered by the fact that these women were largely ignored by history. Why should their lives and stories be so unimportant? Was it merely because of their gender? Thinking about this made me appreciate the author's interest in shedding light on this forgotten past, even if it meant having to dig through the history of men to learn about the secret lives of interesting and historically significant women.

Thanks to Chronos Books for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Review: Be Mighty

Be Mighty: A Woman’s Guide to Liberation from Anxiety, Worry, and Stress Using Mindfulness and Acceptance
Be Mighty
Jill A. Stoddard, PhD

Be Mighty is a book for women who want to learn more about how anxious thoughts both help and hinder actions and how we live our daily lives. It provides useful tips and exercises to help uncover issues or circumstances that may result in avoidance of situations that cause stress and worry. Because anxiety has a role to play in our lives, serving as a warning sign or indicator of danger, this book isn't about helping you get rid of anxiety. It seeks to help you understand what might trigger stress and anxiety and how to deal with it and work through it.

Many of the tips and exercises in the book rely on ACT, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, which aims to help one become more flexible and more aware of feelings, thoughts, and emotions. You will need a journal or notebook to work through the exercises to get the most out of this book. And if you are willing to put in a little time and effort, I think you will find it an excellent source to address the things that might be holding you back, whether that's stressful social encounters or that horrid little voice in your head that often tells you you aren't good enough.

Be Mighty is designed to help you make new choices and become more flexible and hopefully become more of the You that you want to be. Overall, I think it is easy to read, the exercises are easy to follow and a good choice for someone wanting to gain more confidence, and as the author says, live mightily.

Thanks to New Harbinger Publications for allowing me to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Review: Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding (Her Royal Spyness #12)

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding
Rhys Bowen

Lady Georgiana Rannoch is looking forward to her wedding to Irishman Darcy O'Mara. She only wishes he wouldn't disappear off to work so often and that they could find an affordable place to live in London once they are married. Just in the nick of time, Georgiana's godfather offers his estate to the couple. He's often away in exotic locations, and if the couple moves in it will no longer lie empty. But the estate isn't how Georgiana remembers it from her childhood. The once tidy grounds and the well-run house are both in the hands of an incompetent group of servants, who seem more than a little fishy to Georgiana.

When her mother and grandfather finally arrive along with her maid Queenie, she will have some help trying to uncover what the servants have been up to during her godfather's absence. This is, if they don't get themselves in over their heads.

This was the first book I've read in this series by Rhys Bowen, but I know it won't be the last. It was such a fun book, filled with charming characters and a plot that made it a good whodunit. Now that I have read Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding, I can't wait to see what mysteries await Georgiana in other volumes of this series.

This review was originally written by me for City Book Review.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Review: Is it Alzheimer's

'Is It Alzheimer's?' cover image

Is it Alzheimer's
Peter V. Rabins, MD, MPH

Is it Alzheimer's is an easy to read book about the differences between typical memory loss and signs of dementia. There is also an overview describing how it is determined and diagnosed. The author presents questions and answers to often asked questions about this complex disease. With around 5.1 million adults suffering from some form of dementia in the United States, this book was designed with the family of patients, friends, and caregivers in mind.

As someone with a relative suffering from this disease, I found many of the explanations in this book both helpful and reassuring. It is likely to be a resource that I will consult in the future. I do wish, though, that it had addressed more thoroughly how to deal with a patient who exhibits aggressive or paranoid behavior at what the author describes as the sundown period or effect. While this book may not answer all the questions I have, it is a good start. I also learned that the author has another book entitled The 36-Hour Day, which goes into much more detail about Alzheimer's and dementia. Is it Alzheimer's is meant to be a supplement to it.

Thanks to Johns Hopkins Press for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Review: Murder in an Irish Cottage

Murder in an Irish Cottage (Irish Village Mystery #5)

Murder in an Irish Cottage
Carlene O'Connor

Siobhán and her fiance Macdara, both members of the Gardaí, the Irish police, are called to a small village by Macdara's cousin Jane, who seems to be in a panic. When they arrive at the cottage, Jane shares with her mother Ellen; they find Ellen is dead. Has she been poisoned? According to Jane, everyone in the village disliked Ellen. The cottage itself seemed to be the problem. The villagers wanted to tear it down, fearing fairies haunted it. But Ellen wasn't prepared to move. Siobhán and Macdara think there could be more to the story, and even though the case isn't in their district, that isn't going to stop them from investigating the death of a family member.

Cozy mystery fans will love this village murder mystery. Not only is it well written, but it's also full of fun characters, folklore as well as lots of twists and turns. A satisfying read indeed. So, make a cup of tea and sit back and enjoy the search for a killer. Hopefully, you will enjoy this one as much as I did. It left me waiting for another installment.

Thanks to Goodreads and Kensington Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Review: Mind over Weight

Mind over Weight: Curb Cravings, Find Motivation, and Hit Your Number in 7 Simple Steps

Mind Over Weight
Ian K. Smith, M.D.

This book is designed to help those who want to lose weight by finding strategies that help to get you motivated and stay on track to meet goals. The seven steps are as follows. First, you want to make sure you are in the right frame of mind to start a diet. Then you need to set goals so that you will have a course of action to follow. Then one needs to find the best diet to follow. Once you have a plan, you might need some help to deal with cravings as you try to lose weight. You may also need to seek ways to boost your confidence so that you are more likely to succeed or stick to your diet plan. Afterward, to ensure further success, you will want to create a positive environment and address your overall relationship with food in general.

The author provides some useful tips and strategies to help you plan and execute a diet. The suggestions are ones that are easy to follow. Plus, they allow the reader to approach his or her nutrition from a personal point of view. What I like about this book is the fact that the strategies provided within could be used to meet other goals as well. So, Mind Over Weight might be just the beginning. This is a book that I will revisit and consult when I need tips or advice on restarting my diet or just when I need a boost.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Review: The Hunting Party

The Hunting Party

The Hunting Party
Lucy Foley

Every New Year's Eve a group of former Oxford graduates and lifelong friends gather to celebrate. This year they will be ringing in the New Year on a remote Scottish estate in the highlands. When the food and wine start to flow it becomes apparent that the friends have a lot of secrets they've been hiding from one another. Things take a turn for the worse when one of them disappears. An overnight blizzard means it isn't going to be easy to find the guest or get help when it's needed. Lodge manager Heather and Gamekeeper Doug will have to do the best they can to find out what's happened to the missing guest but they also have a few demons they are battling with as well.

The Hunting Party is a wonderfully plotted mystery with a load of suspense and well-developed characters. Everyone has a motive, and any one of them could be a victim. You won't know which is which until you get to the end. So, whether it's the Scottish setting or the feisty characters, I feel sure mystery lovers are going to appreciate this one. I know I couldn't put it down.

This review was originally written by me for City Book Review.