Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Escaping a Domineering Mother to Find Love

At twenty-five, Beth is on her own. She moved from Chicago to Portland to escape the smothering presence of her mother. Finally, she’s able to make her own life, have friends of her choosing, and enjoy her job as a music teacher.

One of Beth’s teacher friends invites her to dinner with her family and a family friend, Sam. Sam is a mechanic, a tough guy that her mother would not have approved of. Sam isn’t too excited about Beth either, a well-brought-up girl who likes classical music. A serious car accident changes everything. Sam and Beth talk while she recovers and find common ground.

This is a warm romance. The characters are people you can empathize with. Beth and Sam don’t seem suited on the surface, but each brings something to the relationship the other needs. Beth’s other friends, and particularly Nicole’s son Owen, add a very human element to the story. They’re the kind of people you’d like to know.

If you enjoy romance with an outcome that makes you feel good, no outrageous sex, or kinky living arrangements, this is a good book. The outcome is predictable, but the fun is in getting to know the characters and see how they arrive at a good resolution.

I received this book from Penguin Random House for this review.


A Murderous Romp Through Scotland’s Whiskey Business

Abi Logan, an award-winning photo journalist, is devastated when the uncle, who raised her after her parent’s death, dies from cancer. She was on a photo shoot when he died, and she blames herself for not spending more time with him. Her guilt is compounded when she discovers that he’s left her a distillery in Scotland making a sought-after single malt whiskey.

Abi with her friend Patrick, and delightful dog, Liam, journey to Scotland to check out the distillery. Her guilt increases when she finds that the distillery was named for her and the adjacent house is named the Haven, the name of her beloved childhood home. Besides trying to learn about whiskey to decide among the numerous offers she has for the business, things become more complicated when she faces death threats, break-ins, and arson.

I enjoyed this cozy mystery. It was fascinating to learn about Scotland’s whiskey business, I had no idea it was so complex. The setting in the highlands adds charm to the story. Romance is in the air, but it doesn’t overwhelm the plot just adds a nice touch of human interaction. The plot has plenty of twists. I think you'll be surprised by the ending. 

The characters are excellent. Liam is a particular favorite. I also enjoyed the various types of men, women are not welcome in the whiskey business, running the small distilleries in the highlands.

This is the first book in the new series. I recommend it and will be looking forward to the future adventures of Abby and Liam.

I received this book from Alibi for this review.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Relating Biblical Prophecy to Today’s Headlines

Reading the news about conflicts in the world today, it’s tempting to wonder what the Bible has to say about the current state of tension. Dyer abd Tobey explore what scripture has to tell us about the conflicts: Israel’s place in the center of Middle East tensions; Iran’s role in trying to reclaim the power from the past when Persia was a major nation; the rise of Isis; and Russia’s role in trying to regain the power of the cold war era.

The book is quite short, only 106 pages, but packed with information. The focus is on end-times prophecy. Are we nearing the time when the Messiah will return? Their reading of current events in relation to what the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, says suggests that forces are coalescing to bring about the conditions for a major change in the world.

The book relies heavily on the prophecies found in Ezekiel and Daniel. I was familiar with the book of Daniel, but I found their analysis revealing. It caused me to go back and read the book because I felt I had missed so many underlying parallels to today.

This is a good book if you’re interested in end-times prophecy. The book is short, but it gives a good background and may encourage you to explore the area further.

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers for this review.



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Yummy Mystery at a Seaside Resort

In the second book in the Pancake House Mysteries, Marley McKinney is settled in Wildwood. The pancake house is flourishing, she’s dating Brett, her teenage crush, and she’s made friends. The cloud on the horizon is Ida Winkler. She blames Marley for landing her nephew in jail and is doing what she can to make Marley’s life difficult.

Marley has had it with Ida’s crank calls, words painted on the pancake house, and scenes in the restaurant. She decides to talk to the woman, but when she arrives at Ida’s house she finds her body. This makes Marley a suspect. Personally, I found the idea of Marley as a suspect rather thin, but it does give her a reason to solve the crime.

Wildwood is a great location. I love the descriptions of the seaside, Marley’s house, and the quaint town. The crepes served at the pancake house make your mouth water.

The characters are good. Marley is a strong woman who confronts trouble and wins. I love Ivan the grumpy chef and Brett is almost too good to be true. Flapjack, Marley’s cat, adds a warm touch.

The plot had several twists which ended with a different view of Ida’s murder than the one the story began with. The pace was a little slow. Marley spends a lot of time swimming either alone or with Brett. It adds some romance, but doesn’t do much to further the plot.

If you enjoy cozy mysteries, this is a good one.


I received this book from Alibi for this review.  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Two Rescue Dogs Come to the Aid of Their Owners

Cody hates the Berkshire Inn her mother bought. She hates her new school. She’s angry, has no friends, and only relates to the artists in the local art colony. Skye, Cody’s mother, is at her wits end. After Cody’s father’s murder, she turned into a troubled child rather than the happy loving person she had been.

The dilapidated inn is trying Skye’s resources. She has a policy of no pets, but one rainy night, Adam Marsh, a grieving widower, and his rescue dog, Chance, arrive. Reluctantly, she agrees to let them stay; after all the extra money will be welcome. One night turns into several more visits.

Although standoffish at first, Cody gradually warms up to Chance. When she and Chance help rescue another pit bull, she begins to relate to the dogs, but she still has a secret that drives her away from her mother. Perhaps the dogs can help her they way they helped Adam get over his grief.

The best character in this book is Chance. He opens the story with his discussion of how he studies human emotions. Throughout the book, Chance gives his take on what’s happening. It’s interesting to see how animals view their human friends.

The plot raises issues of bullying, love, fear, grief and loss. The issues are well addressed by the characters and commented on by Chance. However, I found the technique of shifting back and forth between Skye and Cody difficult to get used to. Cody’s action is told in the third person, for Skye the author uses first person. While that technique does separate the point of view of each character, it seems strained.

If you enjoy stories where animals have a major role, this is a good one.

I received this book from St. Martin’s Press for this review.



A Talented Rook Helps Solve a Murder

Julia Lancaster, manager of a tourist center in a charming English village, feels life is finally working out. She loves her job, and she’s looking forward to a weekend away with her boy friend, Michael, who has her old job as assistant to her ornithologist father, Rupert Lancaster.

The lovers make their getaway, turn off their phones, and have a blissful weekend. However, when they return the village is in an uproar. Julia’s ex-husband is found murdered on the estate, which is the main tourist attraction in the village. Michael was seen near the place where the body was discovered before they left for the weekend. Now the press is hounding Julia and Michael, sure that Michael is
the murderer.

To protect Julia, Michael disappears, but that leaves her on her own to deal with the reporters. It also makes her feel that she has been abandoned and her love affair is over.

The best part of this book is the description of the village and the people who live there. My favorites were Tennyson, a budding ornithologist, and her rook, Alfie. Alfie’s clever antics keep the story moving and assist in uncovering the murderer.

I was disappointed in Julia’s character. She spends most of the book feeling abandoned although there is not a good reason. It seemed she could have tried a little harder to trust Michael.

The mystery is fair. Picking out the murderer was relatively easy. However, I enjoyed the sleuthing and getting to know more about the backstory of the characters, including Julia’s father. If you enjoy cozy mysteries with an English background, you’ll like this one.


I received this gook from Alibi for this review.