On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Posts tagged ‘Book Review’

Book Review: A Slim Chance by Elizabeth Harrison

Cover

About the book:

 Four women meet at a Manchester university party in 1975 and become close friends. Over the following thirty years, their lives are shaped by their childhoods, their relationships with men, and the backdrop of rapid changes in society for women.

When one of the four, Linda Hammond, is found dead, suspicion falls on her use of Svelta, a widely prescribed slimming drug linked to numerous deaths. Also in the frame of suspicion is an eminent cardiologist who arranged an illegal abortion for Linda when he was a medical student, the knowledge of which could finish his career.

Concerns about the high number of deaths amongst Svelta users are picked up by two investigative journalists. They uncover the manipulation of the clinical trial data on which the drug was licensed and the readiness of Sipher Pharmaceutical to rebut any concern over the drug’s safety.

Linda’s death dramatically changes all the women’s lives, laying bare deceit, a lack of personal integrity and corporate greed.

My review – 3.5 of 5 stars:

 A Slim Chance by Elizabeth Harrison was an enjoyable story, but it was too much – too many main characters, too many story lines, too many social issues. After the opening scene in which one of the main characters dies, the story flashes back thirty years to when four young women meet. For the next several chapters, the women get to know each other and form lifelong friendships. This part of the story was well done. I had difficulty finding a place to stop and looked forward to returning to my Kindle. As the women left college and entered the real world, however, their lives diverged and so did their stories.

The author dealt with many important women’s issues like abortion, abuse of several kinds, self esteem and body image, and drug addiction to name a few. They also dealt with corporate misconduct, especially in the drug industry. While all of these issues need to be exposed, I felt that since so many were covered in one story, none of them was handled as effectively as they might have been if only one or two had been the focus. There were also several passages, especially those related to the corporate misconduct, where the author’s voice switched from story-telling to lecturing.

I would recommend this book to readers who can focus on the story rather than the short-comings in the telling of it. A strong developmental editor could do a lot to pull A Slim Chance up to a four-star or even a five-star rating.

 About the author:

 HeadShotLiz Buxton and Dee Harrison (Elizabeth Harrison) have been friends since the age of five. From a shared background of school, marriage, children, and then divorce, they have gone on to pursue quite different careers and lifestyles, but have always kept in touch.
Dee has worked in IT and built two successful software companies. Liz has had a freelance career as a Furniture Designer to the manufacturing industry as well as training as a Yachtmaster and living on a sailing boat for five years.

This is their first novel together.

 Buy the book at Amazon 

Book Review: The Blue Coyote (A Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mystery) by Karen Musser Nortman

Cover The Blue Coyote

About the book:

Frannie and Larry Shoemaker love taking their grandchildren, Sabet and Joe, camping with them. But at Bluffs State Park, Frannie finds herself worrying more than usual about their safety, and when another young girl disappears from the campground in broad daylight, her fears increase. The fun of a bike ride, a flea market, marshmallow guns, and a storyteller are quickly overshadowed. Accusations against Larry and her add to the cloud over their heads. Frannie begins to puzzle out the mystery: Are the itinerant road workers as much of a threat as Frannie thinks? What about the lone woman camper who also disappears? Or is the girl’s deadbeat dad behind it all?

My review:

After reading The Blue Coyote, another Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mystery and the second in the Camping Can Be Murder Boxed Set, I feel like I know the Shoemakers, their grandchildren, and their friends personally. That’s why I was so incensed when Larry became the prime suspect in a campground kidnapping. Frannie was even more infuriated, though, as the authorities seemed to focus on her husband while the missing child and her own grandchildren remained in danger and the real culprit remained at large. In spite of many warnings to stay out of it, she put on her amateur sleuth hat and went to work.

Even for the reader who is not a regular cozy mystery fan, Frannie’s adventures are lively and exciting enough for an enjoyable weekend in the recliner or maybe even in a camp chair around the fire pit. Karen Nortman’s descriptions of the camping experience and the surrounding countryside are realistic enough to make the reader want to pack the RV and hit the open road – as long as there are no villains waiting at the campground. An added bonus is the vivid description of the sumptuous meals she and her friends share around the campfire and the recipes and camping tips at the end of each book. As for me, two Frannie Shoemaker stories were enough to make me a fan, and I can’t wait to begin reading the next one.

About the author:

Head Shot Karen Musser NortmanKaren Musser Nortman, after previous incarnations as a secondary social studies teacher (22 years) and a test developer (18 years), returned to her childhood dream of writing a novel. Bats and Bones, a cozy mystery, came out of numerous ’round the campfire’ discussions, making up answers to questions raised by the peephole glimpses one gets into the lives of fellow campers. Where did those people disappear to for the last two days? What kinds of bones are in this fire pit? Why is that woman wearing heels to the shower house?

Karen and her husband Butch originally tent camped when their children were young and switched to a travel trailer when sleeping on the ground lost its romantic adventure. They take frequent weekend jaunts with friends to parks in Iowa and surrounding states, plus occasional longer trips. Entertainment on these trips has ranged from geocaching and hiking/biking to barbecue contests, balloon fests, and buck skinners’ rendezvous. Frannie and Larry will no doubt check out some of these options on their future adventures.

Karen has three children and eight grandchildren. She also loves reading, gardening, and knitting, and can recite the 99 counties of Iowa in alphabetical order.

Visit her website at www.karenmussernortman.com
Buy the book on Amazon 

Or buy it with two other Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mysteries in the Camping Can Be Murder Boxed Set HERE 

Blessings,

Linda

Book Review: Bats and Bones (A Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mystery) by Karen Musser Nortman

Cover Bats and Bones

About the book:

Camping can be murder. Oh, sure, on the one hand there’s the stunning scenery, socializing with old friends and new acquaintances, amazing food cooked outside, and so on. But what if a dead body turns up on one of your hikes-for-fun-and fitness?

Frannie and Larry Shoemaker, retired baby boomers, are looking forward to a relaxing Fourth of July weekend with friends in beautiful Bat Cave State Park. They begin the weekend with a wonderful meal and some laughs over the antics of nearby novice campers. But when someone kills the campground host and Frannie’s group discovers the body, their favorite getaway becomes a quasi-prison, and the eccentricities often seen in a campground are viewed as suspicious behavior. A severe weather threat and the possibility that the murderer could be either a campground resident or an intruder from the outside compounds the danger. Frannie, while naturally curious, is warned off by her retired-cop husband, but still stumbles on information making her a target of the killer. At the same time, Frannie is working through the recent loss of her mother and an uncomfortable relationship with one of her own camping group.

My review:

I have been a mystery lover since I first discovered Agatha Christie in the Weekly Reader Book Club at school. After finishing the exploits of Mrs. Marple and Hercule Poirot, I moved on to tougher detectives like Parker’s Jesse Stone, Patterson’s Alex Cross, or Baldacci’s team of King and Maxwell. But after reading Bats and Bones by Karen Musser Nortman, I may become a cozy mystery fan all over again.

The first book in the Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mysteries Series immediately drew me in. My husband and I fell in love with the RV lifestyle shortly after we retired, and we have met many campers like the Shoemakers and their friends who are easy-going, fun-loving, gregarious, and all around nice people. The scenarios in Bats and Bones were reminiscent of many of our camping trips – minus the dead bodies, of course.

Karen Nortman’s writing style captures the laid back atmosphere of the campground while still building the tension as the plot thickens and Frannie becomes involved in spite of her best efforts to heed the warnings of her husband Larry and local law enforcement. Nortman’s characters are well developed and likeable – except for the bad guys. She offers a reading experience that’s fun, engaging, and flinch free, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

About the author:

Head Shot Karen Musser NortmanKaren Musser Nortman, after previous incarnations as a secondary social studies teacher (22 years) and a test developer (18 years), returned to her childhood dream of writing a novel. Bats and Bones, a cozy mystery, came out of numerous ’round the campfire’ discussions, making up answers to questions raised by the peephole glimpses one gets into the lives of fellow campers. Where did those people disappear to for the last two days? What kinds of bones are in this fire pit? Why is that woman wearing heels to the shower house?

Karen and her husband Butch originally tent camped when their children were young and switched to a travel trailer when sleeping on the ground lost its romantic adventure. They take frequent weekend jaunts with friends to parks in Iowa and surrounding states, plus occasional longer trips. Entertainment on these trips has ranged from geocaching and hiking/biking to barbecue contests, balloon fests, and buck skinners’ rendezvous. Frannie and Larry will no doubt check out some of these options on their future adventures.

Karen has three children and eight grandchildren. She also loves reading, gardening, and knitting, and can recite the 99 counties of Iowa in alphabetical order.

Visit her website at www.karenmussernortman.com
Buy the Bats and Bones HERE 

Or buy it with two other Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mysteries in the Camping Can Be Murder Boxed Set HERE 

Blessings,

Linda

Book Review: One Night in Tehran: A Titus Ray Thriller by Luana Ehrlich

One Night in Tehran Cover

About the book:

 CIA operative Titus Ray is searching for answers. Meanwhile, an assassin is searching for him.

Learning the truth . . .
Veteran CIA officer Titus Ray–on the run from the Iranian secret police–finds shelter with a group of Iranian Christians in Tehran. While urging Titus to become a believer in Jesus Christ, they manage to smuggle him out of Iran to freedom in Turkey.

Dealing with the past . . .
Returning to the States, he discovers his Iranian mission failed because of political infighting within the Agency. In a hot-tempered outburst, he delivers a scathing indictment against the Deputy Director of Operations, and, as a result, the deputy forces Titus to take a year’s medical leave in Oklahoma.

Facing the future . . .
Before leaving Langley, Titus learns he’s been targeted by a Hezbollah assassin hired by the Iranians. Now, while trying to figure out what it means to be a follower of Christ, he must decide if the Iranian couple he meets in Norman, Oklahoma has ties to the man who’s trying to kill him, and if Nikki Saxon, a local detective with an intriguing past, can be trusted with his secrets.

Can a man trained to lie and deceive live a life of faith?

Should he trust the beautiful young detective with his secrets?

Was the bullet that killed his friend meant for him?

My review:

 Luana Ehrlich’s novel, One Night in Tehranfell short of my expectations, and that’s a good thing. Lately I have read a number of independently published novels, and I have come to the conclusion that creating a well-written suspense thriller is not as easy as the big-named authors who crank out annual best sellers make it look. Mrs. Ehrlich, however, has done just that.

The main character of the first Titus Ray Thriller Series is multi-faceted – tough enough to go head to head with the most vicious enemy assassin but an easy mark when a stray dog shows up at his door; wary enough to be a successful CIA operative but open to a special friendship with an attractive Oklahoma detective. The story line can hold the interest of the most die-hard thriller fan, and it leaves you wanting more. I thoroughly enjoyed One Night in Tehran, and I look forward to reading the rest of the Titus Ray Series.

 About the author:

Luana Ehrlich Head Shot Luana Ehrlich is an award-winning author, minister’s wife, and former missionary with a passion for spy thrillers and mystery novels. She began her series of Titus Ray novels when her husband retired from the pastorate. Now, she writes from an undisclosed location, trying to avoid the torture of mundane housework, grocery shopping, and golf stories. However, she occasionally comes out of hiding to visit with her two grandsons or to enjoy a Starbucks caramel macchiato.

A resident of Norman, Oklahoma for the past twenty-five years, Luana has also lived in Indiana, Illinois, New Mexico, Texas, and Michigan. For several years, she and her husband were missionaries in Costa Rica and Venezuela.

In addition to being an avid reader, Luana is also a news fanatic, following events around the world on a daily basis, particularly the Middle East. She loves to hear from her readers! Contact her through email, Author@LuanaEhrlich.com.

To learn more about Luana, visit her websites: www.LuanaEhrlich.com and www.TitusRayThrillers.com.

All books in the series are available on Amazon here.

Blessings,

Linda

New 5-star review for “A Long and Winding Road”

Linda Brendle’s A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos cleverly uses a fifty-three day RV road trip as a vehicle for readers to glimpse the ups and downs of Alzheimer’s erratic world. This heartwarming story of a daughter’s devotion to her mother and father is inspirational. The author draws upon spiritual courage to meet nonstop challenges. She tempers the seriousness of the subject matter by sprinkling pages with humor. And, Linda Brendle flawlessly weaves her personal growth journeys to add depth to this enjoyable read. I highly recommend this work.

WindingRoadFinal

On sale for 99 cents!

Blessings,

Linda

Book Review: Roachville by Marianne Germain

Roachville Cover

About the book:

Translator Annika Roy is bored with life and just going through the motions when a mysterious artefact comes crashing into her lonely existence, forcing her to interact with the outside world again.

But there’s danger there, and Annika must decide whether to follow the handsome but shady Kenneth Tann on his obsessive quest, or to trust an enigmatic mother-daughter duo and their two aborigine bodyguards.

It’s a journey from the mundane to the weird—on a road with twists, turns, and more than a few bumps.

My review:

Roachville by Marianne Germain grabbed my attention from the beginning and is largely responsible for my antisocial behavior during family gatherings the last few days. This mystery with a touch of the paranormal kept me looking for moments when I could open my Kindle and see what happened next. Annika Roy, the quirky, sarcastic main character and her group of equally fascinating friends added humor, romance, and suspense to this fun read. For my old-fashioned taste, the author could have included less pot and alcohol, but I appreciated her restraint in leaving most of the details of the few intimate moments to my imagination. I would not hesitate to recommend Roachville, and I look forward to more of Ms. Germain’s work.

Marianne Germain Head Shot

About the author:

95% translator, 5% writer, Marianne Germain lives with her partner, their 2 daughters, one dog and a cat, in a small village in the South of France. She likes music, tennis and her electric bike.

Find the author on Facebook and Twitter

Buy Roachville at Amazon 

Blessings,

Linda

Book Review of A Long and Winding Road

WindingRoadFinal

If you love bargains, the digital edition of A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos is on sale for just $.99!

A review by Mary Beth Magee of Reviews and Opinions and the Writing World: 

A book every caregiver should read by a woman who has been there

What do you do when the world you thought you knew starts shifting out from under you? 

That’s the dilemma that confronted author Linda Brendle. She faced a husband in career turmoil, a mother in the throes of Alzheimer’s and a father suffering from vascular dementia. As a potential cross-country move loomed, she and her husband made a decision to take an extended trip in an RV with her parents.

The result of that trip became “The Long and Winding Road.” Brendle moves back and forth between the trip and memories of past activities to show the way personal history influences personal present and perceptions. Her extraordinary memoir should be on every caregiver’s “must read” list.

As someone who has cared for a mother with Alzheimer’s, I identified immediately with Brendle’s situation. She doesn’t sugarcoat the problems, but she shows a path through them. Her poignant and heartfelt story can offer a glimmer of hope to anyone in the situation.

If you face a caregiving role, look for “The Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love and Chaos” by Linda Brendle. The book will provide an understanding shoulder, a cheerleader and a frequent “I know how that feels” chuckle. Her deep faith perspective will encourage you in your own faith walk. I wish I had this book when my mother was still with me.

A LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos is the story of the chaos that happens when four people, two of whom have Alzheimer’s, spend fifty-three days in a 400-square-foot box on wheels.

A LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos

Available at:

B&N // Kobo // iTunes // Amazon // Smashwords

Blessings,

Linda

 

%d bloggers like this: