Monday, May 30, 2022

"The Dead of Autumn" by Jean Rabe

Halloween night always seems to get unusual 911 calls, but most of them don't amount to much more than minor disturbances, loud parties that might have gotten out of hand, or silly and generally harmless pranks. But a girl murdered on her way to a costume party is anything but usual.

Once again, Sheriff Piper Blackwell has her hands full trying to discover who killed the teenage girl dressed as Steampunk Tinkerbell and why.  And this one is definitely not a simple murder mystery. There are a lot of twists and turns involved, as well as quite a few surprises along the way.

From the moment I started reading, I honestly couldn't put this book down. It held me completely captivated from beginning to end as I tried to figure it out before the end of the story. And the secondary mystery (that had nothing to do with this murder) was just as interesting and entertaining. And watching that mystery get solved gives quite a bit of insight into some of the secondary characters and their lives, adding extra dimensions to the overall story.

I highly recommend reading this book, especially if you enjoy murder mysteries, any of the other books in this series, or are just looking for a very well written tale that will keep you guessing until the end. I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did. Ms. Rabe is definitely a master storyteller who never disappoints her readers. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll read through this one almost nonstop & be waiting as patiently as possible for the next one in the series.

Monday, May 23, 2022

"The Admiral's wife" by M.K. Tod

This is the story of two women, separated by about a century in time, who share a similar tale. Both were born and raised elsewhere, but have come to live in Hong Kong. One in the 1900s when her husband was given a position there in the British Navy, and the other in more modern times to get to spend time with her family & to learn more about her Chinese heritage. 

I enjoyed this book a great deal. I loved the parallels between the lives of the two women. Both felt very out of place when they first arrived. There was a great deal that was unfamiliar to each that they needed to adjust to in their new lives.  Yet despite the difference in the time period in which each lived, there were quite a few similarities and a kind of parallel between them as well.

And the way that their stories were so interwoven made it clear that this was one story rather than two separate tales. It was very well brought together so that it seemed to come around full circle in the end in a way that made perfect sense. Yes, their lives were quite different from each other and obviously they’d never met, but there was a connection between them just the same. There is a lot more going on in each woman's story than first meets the eye, and that, as well as the choices they made, brings a great deal of depth to this book and made it a very enjoyable book for me to read. I would definitely recommend that others give this one a try. In my opinion, it’s worth it.

Monday, May 16, 2022

The Ultimate Meal Prep Cookbook”
by America’s Test Kitchen

Recently, my husband checked this cookbook out from the library for us to look through to see if it might work for us. We often find that while one or two recipes in a cookbook work well for our family, there’s rarely more than that. But this book was different. We found quite a few recipes that we could use with only minor alterations of substitutions of ingredients. 

I was really impressed by the format of this book. It discussed not only ingredients, but storage options for leftovers as well as foods that had not yet been cooked, simple methods of cooking various foods, what changes to make if you are using dried ingredients rather than fresh ones, and it divided things into weekly meal plans that utilized a lot of the same ingredients in different ways so that you could reduce the number of shopping trips/ amount of items needed to purchase for the meals on that week’s recommended dishes.

The book also provides grocery lists for the various dishes, including either the full week’s meal plans as suggested as well as separated by individual dishes if you don’t intend to make all of the items listed in any of the weekly menu plans they’ve suggested. That made it really convenient for us as quite often we’ll like a dish from one grouping but not the others for the rest of that week.

The book provides complete and easy to follow, step by step cooking instructions on how to make the various dishes that have been thoroughly tested out by America’s Test Kitchen so that they will be easy enough for those of us with little or no cooking experience to follow. And for me, that alone was a huge plus over other cookbooks that are not designed for new or inexperienced home cooks to be able to easily follow & end up with a delicious meal. 

I also like that at the back of the book it includes nutritional information on each dish so that anyone watching what they eat can clearly see the information they might want or need in one location, as well as a chart for conversions and equivalents for ingredient portions and an index to make it nice and easy to find a dish without needing to know which meal grouping it was in. 

I found this book very well organized and extremely helpful. And after having made a few of the meals for ourselves & loved them, we ordered a copy of this book to keep in our home library as we will soon need to return this one to the library. If you think this book sounds like it might be a good one for you as well, I recommend starting out by borrowing it from your local library to test out a few of the dishes yourself. I suspect you’ll also wind up finding it a good one to buy for yourself as well, but this way you’re not out any money if it turns out not to be right for you.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

“A Bride’s Love and her Daughter’s Hope”
by Florence Linnington

Harriet Miller’s marriage had seemed like a dream at first. He was handsome, rich, and well-connected. She was none of those. And his mother detested her, refusing to have anything to do with Harriet or her daughter Alyssa. Until, that is, Harriet’s husband died while Alyssa was a child. Then the woman wanted to take Alyssa into her home to raise as a “proper” lady. Harriet, on the other hand, would be expected to give up all rights to her daughter and never see her again. And with wealth & power behind the older woman, if Harriet were to stay to try and fight to keep her, Harriet would only wind up losing her daughter forever.

So Harriet and Alyssa did the only thing they could, and using the last name of McKinney, they fled as far from their home as they could afford to get. (Harriet’s husband had turned out to be a heavy drinker who was not a very good gambler, leaving them with very little money upon his death.) At the end of her journey, Harriet meets with a matchmaker to find her a husband as she will need one to survive out in the west. But before a husband can be found, we learn that Alyssa’s grandmother has offered a huge bounty for the girl to be found & returned to her. So what can Harriet do now to keep them hidden and safe?

I enjoyed this book. There were some surprises along the way, a character who grew from someone with a simple belief in what was right or wrong, into someone who came to see that there is often more than a single side to the story and begins to see the shades of gray that he had been missing before. We also got to see that like any good mother, Harriet was willing to do anything to protect her daughter and keep her safe, even if doing so is likely to lead to unhappiness for herself. Such actions are something she considers a small sacrifice to protect her daughter, just as any mother would.

It was a very good story and one that I would definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys mail order bride stories or any of Ms. Linnington’s other books.


Monday, May 2, 2022

"The Vampire's Maid" by Cara Wylde

Elise was a young woman with no family and not much potential for a future as anything other than a cleaning woman. At least not until she was offered a job to clean a very large home (more of a castle, really) for which she was paid a very large sum up front with the remainder to follow once she had finished cleaning the place from top to bottom.

This was a shorter tale and one that I found rather amusing. The author can clearly write well, but in this story a lot of what happened felt somewhat too convenient to me. I don't want to go into detail because that would spoil the story too much for anyone yet to read it. For most of the story, there was very little surprise for me, though the ending was quite a bit different than what I was expecting to see happen. I can honestly say that I didn’t see it coming.

The reader does need to be warned that this is not a story for younger readers as there is some very explicit sex in the book including clothing being ripped as it is removed (yet in a later scene was left neatly folded for her to be able to wear again.)

Would I read another book by this author? Yes I would. She can clearly write well and the story was entertaining. For the rest of you, that’s up to you to decide.

Note: My apologies to my readers. This book has been sitting in my far too long "to be read" list for a while, and when I started editing this review to post on Monday, I could not find it listed on Amazon. And unfortunately, I do not have time to get another book read and reviewed before this needs to post. So please accept my apologies for I do not have a link to share this week. But I do promise that this book does exist.

Firefax by A. M. Vergara

During the Revolutionary War, there are rumors of a city of gold that is hidden on an island whose location is known only to the Firefax fam...