Thursday, January 26, 2023

Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Janice Thompson Book Review

About the Book

Book: Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Author: Janice Thompson

Genre:Christian Fiction / Mystery / Romance

Release date: January 1, 2023

Inquisitive, detail-oriented, Veterinarian Kristin Keller prides herself on winning over any dog. But has this self-proclaimed dog whisperer finally met her match in a Sheltie named Remington who has just won the Texas state agility course competition? The champion pooch is acting out of sorts—almost as if he is not the same dog. Has he, by chance, been switched out with another dog just before the next big competition? Kristin and the other Lone Star employees will do anything to help the Atkinson family figure out this mystery surrounding their beloved Remington.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This is a good cozy style dog mystery for lovers of animals and all things southern. It is a fun immersion into the southern atmosphere from food to dialog. It is also a mystery with the missing champion dog. The characters are sort of hit and miss in trying to find the dog with many frustrated attempts. In the process, we readers learn a bit about dogs and their care, such as dogs have unique DNA and that rawhide is a choking hazard. The main characters are compassionate people and it was good to see them help others but it was hard to read about the mistreatment of some dogs. There are also a couple of romance threads running through this novel.

There are several people working at the veterinarian office and several suspects in the dog abduction, making this a study in character too. There are some that are willing to help those in need while others are willing to take advantage of the naive. There was a plot twist near the end that was both disappointing yet realistic in character revelation.

I enjoyed this fun mystery and romance. While it is the third in a series, it read well on its own. There's a yummy recipe at the end too.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

You can read my reviews of the earlier books in the series: Off the Chain and Dog Days of Summer.

About the Author

Janice Thompson, who lives in the Houston area, writes romantic comedies, cozy mysteries, nonfiction devotionals, and musical comedies for the stage. She is the mother of four daughters and nine feisty grandchildren. When she’s not writing books or taking care of foster dogs you’ll find her in the kitchen, baking up specialty cakes and cookies.

More from Janice

Barking up the Tree is book three in the Gone to the Dog series. Kathleen Y’Barbo and I are writing six books, in total, and we’re very excited about this series. I happen to be in the dog rescue business. I’ve worked with multiple Houston-based dog rescues over the past five years and have been blessed to care for over fifty dogs in nearly every shape, size, and breed. I am always interested in dog-themed stories.

As a Texan I wanted to place this series in my neck of the woods. Kathleen and I settled on Brenham, Texas, a town not far from where we both live. It’s the home of Blue Bell ice cream (yum!) a favorite here in the Lone Star state. We created a large fictional cast of characters and placed them in a town we know and love.

Along with writing books I’m also a baker and run a baking blog (www.outoftheboxbaking.com). With that in mind I would love to share a recipe from the book. Enjoy!

Nanny’s Coconut Pecan Cake (aka Italian Cream Cake)

Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE:

  • 1 white cake mix
  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut (flakes)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 small box instant vanilla pudding (powder) 

FOR THE FILLING/TOPPING:

  • Toasted coconut
  • Toasted chopped pecans

FOR THE FROSTING:

  • 1 cup (two sticks) salted butter (softened)
  • 1 block cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 rectangle Crisco (can omit if you prefer traditional cream cheese frosting)
  • 1 bag (7-8 cups) powdered sugar
  • Clear vanilla extract

Instructions

MAKING THE CAKE:

  • Combine all ingredients except nuts and coconut. Mix well.
  • Work in the nuts and coconut.
  • Grease and flour three 9” pans.
  • Divide batter between the three pans and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (approximately) until cake springs back to the touch.

MAKING THE ICING:

  • Bring ingredients to room temperature.
  • Mix butter and cream cheese until soft and creamy.
  • Add Crisco and continue to beat until incorporated. (You can leave out the Crisco if you prefer traditional cream cheese frosting.)
  • Add extract and then lower the speed of your mixer to add powdered sugar (more or less to desired consistency).

FILLING AND ICING THE CAKE

  • Level all three cakes.
  • Put one cake on your cake board and add a layer of cream cheese frosting.
  • Pipe a ring around the edge of the cake and add some toasted pecans and coconut.
  • Continue to stack and fill.
  • Turn the top cake upside down, so that it’s bottom up.
  • Ice the cake with a crumb coat and chill.
  • Once chilled, ice liberally with frosting.
  • Add chopped (toasted) pecans and coconut to the sides and top then pipe trim or rosettes to add further d├ęcor.

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 26

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 26

Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 27

Remembrancy, January 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 28

For Him and My Family, January 28

Texas Book-aholic, January 29

deb’s Book Review, January 30

Mary Hake, January 30

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 31

Cover Lover Book Review, February 1

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 1

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, February 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 3

Pause for Tales, February 4

The Book Club Network, February 4

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 5

Blogging With Carol, February 6

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, February 7

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, February 7

Labor Not in Vain, February 8

Divine Perspective, February 8

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Janice is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/23cc8/barking-up-the-wrong-celebration-tour-giveaway

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Grace in the Gray by Mike Donehey Book Review

Donehey is a musician. He shares lessons he has learned from collaborating and critiquing. He gives plenty of personal examples to illustrate his teaching. His personal stories are many and long. I have to admit I skimmed through some of them to get to the point. He has a good sense of humor as the exploding blender story testifies. The book is more in the light hearted sense rather than rigorous teaching and may well appeal to younger readers rather than older ones used to more straight forward instruction.

Topics covered include forgiveness, unconditional love, parenting, who the real enemies are (spiritual), how we need to get along with those unlike us, prayer, social media (going from anger to curiosity to compassion), the gift of emotions and more.

I liked his example of the disciples. Matthew was a tax collector. Simon the Zealot was one who would have considered Matthew a traitor and would have wanted to kill him. Yet, following Jesus, they got along for a greater purpose. Another interesting teaching was Donehey saying that how we talk to God in prayer affects the way we talk to other people. I think his chapter on deconstruction was the best one, reminding us of kindness, wisdom, not being quarrelsome, and having deep knowledge.

Donehey does not touch on specific nor controversial issues hotly debated today. Like the farmer who said to leave the weeds until the harvest, we are encouraged to worry less and believe in God more. God is not freaking out and we shouldn't either. As Donehey says himself, this book “isn't about changing your mind about certain things. It's about reconsidering the posture we take when speaking with one another on those things.” (2807/3147)

This is a good book for those desiring to learn how to disagree better.

You can watch the book trailer here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Mike Donehey is the bestselling author of Finding God’s Life for My Will, a singer, songwriter, podcast host, and former lead singer of the Christian contemporary band Tenth Avenue North. Mike, his wife, Kelly, and their four daughters live in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo by Debbie Ewing.

WaterBrook, 240 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

The Greenleaf Murders by R J Koreto Book Review

 

The Greenleaf Murders

by R.J. Koreto

January 23 - February 17, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Synopsis:

Young architect Wren Fontaine lands her dream job: restoring Greenleaf House, New York's finest Gilded-Age mansion, to its glory days. But old homes have old secrets: Stephen Greenleaf—heir to what’s left of his family’s legacy—refuses to reveal what his plans are once the renovation is completed. And still living in a corner of the home is Stephen's 90-year-old Aunt Agnes who's lost in the past, brooding over a long-forgotten scandal while watching Wren with mistrust.

Wren's job becomes more complex when a shady developer who was trying to acquire Greenleaf House is found murdered. And after breaking into a sealed attic, Wren finds a skeleton stuffed in a trunk. She soon realizes the two deaths, a century apart, are strangely related. Meanwhile, a distraction of a different kind appears in the form of her client's niece, the beautiful and seductive Hadley Vanderwerf. As Wren gingerly approaches a romance, she finds that Hadley has her own secrets.

Then a third murder occurs, and the introverted architect is forced to think about people, and about how ill-fated love affairs and obsessions continue to haunt the Greenleafs. In the end, Wren risks her own life to uncover a pair of murderers, separated by a century but connected by motive. She reveals an odd twist in the family tree that forever changes the lives of the Greenleafs, the people who served them, the mansion they all called home—and even Wren herself.

Praise for The Greenleaf Murders:

"A delightful who-done-it in which the house is as engaging as the wonderful heroine. Readers will want to get lost in these rooms and these pages."

Cate Holahan, USA Today bestselling author of Her Three Lives

"If you love houses and puzzles - which I do - you will be captivated by THE GREENLEAF MURDERS, the first in Richard Koreto's new series. Equally sure-footed in the gilded age of the mansion's heyday and the contemporary world of its decline, Koreto has woven a pretzel of a plot, introduced a charming new heroine, and whetted appetites for more grave deeds and grandeur."

Catriona McPherson, multi-award-winning author of the Dandy Gilver series

"The Greenleaf Murders mixes a modern suspense mystery with the love of old-world mansions and iconic High Society. Buried secrets threaten a family clinging to their former glory as two murders surface, a century apart. Koreto weaves a story that creates the perfect tension between the beauty of the golden era and the fear of a killer in plain sight."

L.A. Chandlar, national best selling author of the Art Deco Mystery Series

"One would think that a murder mystery featuring old homes, architecture, and rich blue bloods would be a dull read, but that’s not the case with R.J. Koreto’s finely-written “The Greenleaf Murders.” Filled with twists and turns and sharply-drawn characters, this well-done novel is very much recommended."

Brendan DuBois, award-wining and New York Times bestselling author

My Review:

What an interesting plot, understanding a house to uncover the murderer from century ago and another today. Hanging a murder mystery on the framework of renovating a mansion turned out to be an informative technique. “Houses are like people,” Wren says. “They have personalities.” Just as houses are structured a certain way, so are people, Wren thinks. By delving into the structure and purpose of the house, she aims to be able to identify the murderer. The novel gave me a new appreciation of historic buildings and the craftsmanship involved in their construction.

Wren is an interesting character. She is precise in renovating this historic house, exploring every detail. She is uncomfortable with people, however, preferring walls and ceilings. I liked her character growth in coming to finally see a house as truly a home for people. That growth lead her to open her heart to romance too.

This is an entertaining and informative novel about one historic home and the deadly secrets hidden in it. I appreciate that, according to the Author's Note, the house is largely real, based on a 75 room mansion built in 1906. Unlike the mansion in this novel, that mansion no longer exists.

Koreto's writing style is fine but I did miss the element of suspense as there was none in the novel. I do like Wren as an amateur sleuth and hope she is presented with future opportunities to solve mysteries

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: November 2022
Number of Pages: 264
ISBN: 9781685122089
Series: Historic Homes Mysteries, #1
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | Level Best Books

Read an excerpt:

Last night, Wren had dreamt she went to Manderley again.

When she was fifteen, her mother had given her a copy of Rebecca, saying it was one of her favorites. A voracious reader, Wren finished it in a few days, but her reaction was not what her mother had hoped for.

“Rebecca was horrible, but Maxim was no prize either. And the second Mrs. De Winter—kind of wimpy.”

“You didn’t like anyone in that book?” asked her exasperated mother.

“I liked Mrs. Danvers. I know she was insane, but she really appreciated the house. If people had been nicer to her, maybe she wouldn’t have burned it down. The best part of the book was Manderley. I’d have liked to live there, in splendid isolation, and Mrs. Danvers would take care of things. She was the only one in the book who knew how to do something.”

Her mother just stared. What teenaged girl talked about living by herself in an ivy-covered British mansion? She kissed her daughter on her forehead. “Wren, you really are an old soul.”

But although Manderley was her first love, Wren proved fickle, and also fell in love with Holyrood House, Blenheim Palace, and Versailles.

A succession of guidance counselors worried about Wren, although she gradually learned to make friends, and even go on dates. However, nothing could replace her love for houses, and it was a foregone conclusion by college that she would become an architect like her father and spend as much time as possible working with houses and not people. And not just any houses, but the kind no one had lived in for a long time.

As Wren approached 30, her father made her a junior partner and told her if he could close the deal with Stephen Greenleaf, he’d let her take full responsibility for Greenleaf House. Once the proposal they had worked on so hard had been completed, Wren couldn’t think about anything beyond spending her days in that Gilded Age gem, one of the largest private residences ever built in New York City. Over the years, like the second Mrs. De Winter, she dreamed of Manderley, never more than when she was hoping for the Greenleaf job.

She came home late one evening after visiting a job site and found her father in the study of the home they still shared. Living at home had become a temporary convenience while she was at graduate school, which turned into a habit, as they liked each other’s company. Not that either would admit it.

She watched him sketch. Although the firm had an office in midtown Manhattan, her father preferred to work in the study of their Brooklyn townhouse. For normal work, she knew it was safe to interrupt him, but not while he did the sketches—his avocation, his passion, just him and his pencils, creating columns and cornices, chair railings, and gargoyles. The only light poured from the desk lamp, illuminating the fine paper and her father’s high-domed forehead. She wanted to know if he had heard anything—but had to wait patiently.

Eventually, the scratching stopped, and he put his pencil down.

“If you haven’t eaten yet, Ada left her spaghetti and meat sauce in the refrigerator. She’s a fine housekeeper, but that particular dish is a little common.”

“Only you would describe a dish of pasta as ‘common.’”

“You know what I mean. And if you don’t understand the context, you shouldn’t be an architect.”

“Fine. But I think it’s delicious.”

“Yes,” he said, with a touch of impatience. “I didn’t say it wasn’t delicious. I said it was common.” He swiveled in his chair and smiled. “But you’re really here to ask if I’ve heard from Greenleaf? I told him today that we couldn’t put aside our other projects indefinitely. And that Bobby Fiore was the only contractor we could trust, and we couldn’t ask him to postpone other jobs, so with a few arguments about the price, he agreed.”

Wren laughed, did a little dance, and punched the air. Then she ran and hugged her father, which he tolerated. “I knew you’d convince him. You are the most wonderful father.”

“Wren. Take a seat.” He said it in his even, measured tone, the one he used for serious discussions. Wren wiped the smile from her face, pulled up a chair, and tucked a rebellious lock of hair behind her ear. In the half-dark room, he took her hands in his.

“I have no doubt that you have the technical skills for this job. My concern is the personal skills. These are the Greenleafs. They were a force in this city when it was still New Amsterdam. We see their house merely as an architectural jewel. The family sees it as a symbol of how tightly they are tied to the history of this city. They are different from other people.”

“People are people,” she said.

“First of all, no. People are different. And even if you were right, people are not your strong suit.”

“I’ve worked well with our clients,” she said defensively.

“You referred to one of our clients as ‘a pompous bourgeois vulgarian.’”

Wren rolled her eyes. “Let’s not go there again. I didn’t say it to his face, just to you.”

“Do you think you hid your feelings?”

“You’ve said worse,” she countered. Then realized she had lost the argument when his eyes went up to the framed certificate on the wall—the Pritzker Prize, often called the Nobel Prize of architecture. I’ve earned my right to arrogance. You have a long way to go.

“Just remember that these people pay our bills. I know we often work to protect them from their own worse instincts, but let’s try to be a little more politic. Your mother used to say you lived in your own special world. But you have to join the rest of humanity every now and then. And that brings me back to Greenleaf House. This is the very important symbol of what was once one of the most important families in this city. Keep that in mind when dealing with Stephen Greenleaf.”

“We’ve already had several meetings, don’t forget. He didn’t seem that unusual to me—runs his own asset management firm. I’ve dealt with Wall Street types before. It won’t be a problem.”

“Wren.” Again, heavy on her name—all her life, this had been the sign of a serious conversation. “The Greenleafs made their money before there was a Wall Street. People like this are unusually touchy about their families and histories. Now that you’re actually starting, his behavior may change. There could be some emotional repercussions. To make this a success, you will have to watch out for those feelings and manage them.”

“And you’re about to say—again—that I understand houses but not people.”

“Let’s just say it’s more of an effort for you. You can work with people. You just don’t like to. But I made you a partner. So you can’t just do the fun parts of your job. You have to do it all.”

“Yes, father,” she said. He was serious, so there could be no more pushback from her. No verbal fencing. He wanted her to live up to his expectations.

“It isn’t your father who’s asking you, Wren. It’s the senior partner of this firm, Ms. Fontaine.”

She nodded. “I understand, Ezra.”

And then he lightened his face with a smile. “But before we move on to the particulars, there is one more piece of advice, this time from your father. It may be hard to remember in any residence we work on, but especially in one with more than 70 rooms, it is not just a house. It’s someone’s home. It was Mr. Greenleaf’s childhood home, in fact, and his aunt has lived there her entire life. You’re not very sentimental Wren—and that’s fine. Neither am I. But please remember that—it’s not just a building. It’s a home.”

***

Excerpt from The Greenleaf Murders by R.J. Koreto. Copyright 2022 by R.J. Koreto. Reproduced with permission from R.J. Koreto. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

R.J. Koreto is the author of the Historic Home mystery series, set in modern New York City; the Lady Frances Ffolkes mystery series, set in Edwardian England; and the Alice Roosevelt mystery series, set in turn-of-the-century New York. His short stories have been published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, as well as various anthologies.

In his day job, he works as a business and financial journalist. Over the years, he’s been a magazine writer and editor, website manager, PR consultant, book author, and seaman in the U.S. Merchant Marine. Like his heroine, Lady Frances Ffolkes, he’s a graduate of Vassar College.

With his wife and daughters, he divides his time between Rockland County, N.Y., and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

Catch Up With R.J. Koreto:
RJKoreto.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @rkoreto1
Instagram - @rjkoreto
Twitter - @RJKoreto
Facebook - @RJKoreto

 

Tour Participants:

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I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Partners in Crime Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Partners in Crime Book Tours.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Monday, January 23, 2023

The Devil You Know by P J Tracy Book Review

About the Book:


Darkness is nothing new to LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan, but in P.J. Tracy’s The Devil You Know, even she isn’t prepared for the scandalous deception of deadly proportions that shakes the very foundation of Hollywood and its untouchables…and leaves her entangled in its rotten core.


Los Angeles has many faces: the real LA where regular people live and work, the degenerate underbelly of any big city, and the rarefied world of wealth, power, and celebrity. LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan’s latest case plunges her into this insular realm of privilege, and gives her a glimpse of the decay behind the glitter.

Beloved actor Evan Hobbes is found in the rubble of a Malibu rockslide, a day after a fake video ruins his career. It’s not clear to Nolan if it’s an accident, a suicide, or a murder, and things get murkier as the investigation expands to his luminary friends and colleagues. Meanwhile, Hobbes’s agent is dealing with damage control, his psychotic boss, and a woman he’s scorned.

My Review:

This is a good police procedure mystery that delves into the murky world of Hollywood. The murder plot is complex with a number of suspects. Nolan is a suitable police investigator although her partner seems to be needed to keep her on task from time to time. This is the third novel featuring her and, while this one read relatively well on its own, it is apparent much of her current character is based on events in previous novels.

Tracy's writing style is quite poetic. She takes time working up to the focus of a scene. One I got used to that, I did like it. Some may think the prose a bit much for a murder mystery. There are many characters (and POVs) and some I felt were more distracting than essential. Sam is one. Perhaps he's from another novel and will have a more essential role in a future one.

I did like the novel and the dive into the dark world of Hollywood and its characters. I especially liked the surprising twist at the very end.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author:


P. J. Tracy
 is the pseudonym of Traci Lambrecht, bestselling and award winning author of the Monkeewrench series. Lambrecht and her mother, P. J., wrote eight novels together as P. J. Tracy before P. J. passed away in 2016. Lambrecht has since continued the Monkeewrench series solo. She spent most of her childhood painting and showing Arabian horses, and graduated with a Russian Studies major from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, where she also studied voice. She now lives outside Minneapolis. Photo credit: Pamels Stege

Minotaur Books, 304 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Something Greater by Jentezen Franklin Book Review

What a refreshing book. We often complain about where God has placed us. Many authors might encourage moving on to find God's blessing. But Franklin is clear. If you know God has placed you where you are, look for the diamonds God is creating in your circumstances, even, or especially, if they are difficult. If God has called you to a particular relationship, job, or place, “no matter how unfruitful it may look to you – stay right there.” (68)

Franklin gives inspiring examples of people who persevered in difficult circumstances and ultimately succeeded. God has called you where you are for a purpose, Franklin writes. (98) What is important is not what is happening to you, he says, but rather what is happening in you. (135) He has good teaching on how to stay victoriously where God has placed you, surviving the difficulties.

If we know Jesus and are known by Him, that is the greatest blessing we could ever have. (159) We can focus on what God is doing right now, in these circumstances. We do not have to look elsewhere. We can have an attitude of expectation to see what God is going to do but at the same time realize the blessings we have right now.

This is a good book for believers who need to be encouraged to thrive where they are, knowing that God has called them to that place, even if with difficult circumstances.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Read an excerpt here.

Previously published in 2020 under the title Acres of Diamonds.

Jentezen Franklin (jentezenfranklin.org) is the senior pastor of Free Chapel, a multicampus church with a global reach. His messages influence generations through digital media, his televised broadcast, Kingdom Connection, and outreaches that put God's love and compassion into action. Jentezen is also a New York Times bestselling author who speaks at conferences worldwide. He and his wife, Cherise, live in Gainesville, Georgia, and have five children and four grandchildren. Photo Credit: © Meshali Mitchell

Chosen , 288 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Friday, January 20, 2023

Tomorrowmind by Gabriella Rosen Kellerman and Martin Seligman Book Review

As a (now retired) bookstore owner caught unprepared at the introduction of the ebook and the subsequent popularity, I understand the need to survive and thrive in a changing work and business environment. I really appreciate the work of Kellerman and Seligman in studying workers all over the world, identifying five traits or psychological powers critical for future survival.

I like to read books on productivity and was surprised to see this one had a bit of a different take. Rather than just introducing the necessary personal qualities, the authors discuss them in the context of behavioral science. I appreciate finding out why some of these characteristics are hard for us. An example being that our brains did not develop to thrive in the repetitive work introduced in the industrial revolution. But now we have the opportunity to revive the ancient abilities of the brain, like searching the landscape, looking for change.

I was happy too see we can develop those five necessary characteristics. We can become increasingly resilient, find meaning and purpose in our work, learn communication techniques for rapid rapport, exercise our imagination to become prospective, and we can grow in our most unique human ability and be creative. Corporations can provide the atmosphere for these qualities to flourish too.

This is a good book for those wanting to survive and thrive in the ever changing landscape of the work force and the corporate world. Individuals, team leaders and managers, and corporate managers would all do well to be familiar with the principles given in this book.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Gabriella Rosen Kellerman, MD, has served as chief product officer and chief innovation officer at BetterUp, founding CEO of LifeLink, and an advisor to healthcare, coaching, and behavior change technology companies. Trained in psychiatry and fMRI research, she holds an MD with honors from Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a BA summa cum laude from Harvard University. Her work has been published and featured in The Atlantic OnlineHarvard Business ReviewInc.Forbes, and many more. Tomorrowmind is her first book. Photo by Larry Wong.

Martin Seligman, PhD, is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, director of the Positive Psychology Center, and former president of the American Psychological Association. He received his BA in philosophy from Princeton University, and his PhD in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and holds ten honorary doctorates. He was named the most influential psychologist in the world by Academic Influence. Along with writing for numerous scholarly publications and appearing in The New York TimesTimeNewsweek, and many others, he is also the author and coauthor of over thirty books, including FlourishAuthentic Happiness, and Tomorrowmind. Photo by Mandy Seligman.

Atria Books, 288 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the Publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Whispering Through Water by Rebecca Wheeler Book Review

About the Book:

The coming-of-age story follows Gwyn Madison, the summer after her high school graduation, as she grapples with her fast-approaching future. She’ll have to face more than she bargained for with her Aunt Delia, the family matriarch, who holds the purse strings and the final word. In the meantime, Gwyn stumbles upon a tightly held family secret. Could a mysterious letter provide Gwyn the leverage she desires? Will it only bring more family division? Or, maybe, the past was never meant to stay buried after all. Whispering Through Water navigates family dynamics, young love, and female autonomy with a little 1990s nostalgia.

  • Publisher: Monarch Educational Services, L.L.C
  • ISBN-10: 1957656052
  • ISBN-13: 978-1957656052
  • ASIN: ‎B0BCCW8T54
  • Print length: 265 pages
Purchase a copy of Whispering Through Water on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org. You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

My Review:

This is a good young adult, coming of age story. Gwyn is a delightful character. She has an independent spirit in the midst of a controlling situation, dressing in her own way and fighting for her future. Yet she is quick to admit wrong when she becomes aware of it.

Her situation is shown by my favorite quote in the book. Gwyn thinks, “I hoped the price of becoming an adult wasn't letting go of your passions for what the world deemed the more appropriate choice.” (26,27) Other issues are covered in this novel too, such as family secrets, shame, relationship to parents, young love, and doing penance for wrong.

The novel is well written. This adult reader was engaged in the story and I think young readers will be too. I was a little uncomfortable with the intensity of the physical touch involved with the young love but was happy to see it was controlled. There is a reader's discussion guide is available so this would be a good selection for a teen book group.

My rating: 4/5 stars.



GIVEAWAY

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About the Author:

Rebecca Wenrich Wheeler was raised in West Point, a small town in the Tidewater region of Virginia. From the moment she submitted her first short story to a young author’s contest in second grade, Rebecca knew she wanted to be a writer. Her love of writing led her to earn a BA in English and an MEd in English education. She spent several years as a high school teacher, during which she also developed a passion for mental health advocacy. Rebecca completed an MA in professional counseling and now works in the school-based mental health field and as a college adjunct psychology instructor. Rebecca also teaches yoga for the young and the young at heart, and she likes to infuse yoga and breathwork in her counseling practice wherever she can.

She believes the most valuable use of her time is teaching youth how to love and care for each other and the world around them. Her stories share her focus on positive relationships and a love of nature. Rebecca now lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband, two children, and two spoiled Siamese cats.

Whispering Through Water is her first YA novel and second book. Her picture book When Daddy Shows Me the Sky was released November 2021. You can follow Rebecca on Instagram @rebeccawwheeler_author and www.rebeccawwheeler.com..


Monarch Educational Services LLC, 265 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Women on Writing. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Women on Writing.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Snuffed Out by Valona Jones Book Review

About the Book:


30-year-old fraternal twins Tabby and Sage Winslow own The Book and Candle Shop in Savannah. Sage is hot-headed and impulsive while Tabby is calm and collected, making them the perfect partnership. When one of their customers is found murdered, from a blow to the head, that partnership is put to the test.

Blithe McAdam had been seen in a heated argument with shop clerk Gerard, which immediately makes him suspect number one. The twins are convinced of Gerard’s innocence and start digging into Blithe’s past. But no one is cooperating. The neighbor who found the body isn’t talking, medical examiner Quig won’t give any details about the autopsy, and nasty rumors begin surfacing about the drowning of Blithe’s father years earlier—evidence that could seal Gerard’s fate.

Tabby and Sage dig desperately for the truth. But it’s not only their friend who’s in peril. With the clock ticking, the twins find themselves in the grip of an unseen and deadly energy that has seeped into their midst—and in the sights of a ruthless killer.

My Review:

While I like cozy mysteries, this one was not my favorite. It had too much of the aura and energy focus. I would have liked it better if it had been subtle but it seemed to be a constant feature. While I appreciate the twin energy connection, I did find the characters really hard to like, especially Sage. I didn't like their romance habits at all. The murder plot was suitable. It was just the emphasis on the energetics and the characters themselves that I did not like. This particular novel was not for me.

My rating: 3/5 stars.


About the Author:

Valona Jones writes paranormal cozy mysteries set in Southern locales. Her work blends mystery and the unexplained, along with a sprinkle of romance. A former scientist, she’s drawn to the study of personal energy. She sharpened her people-watching skills as a lifelong introvert and thankfully had a bank vault full of personal observations when she began to write fiction. Her forthcoming release, Snuffed Out, A Magic Candle Shop Mystery, is slated for a January 10, 2023 release. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She lives in coastal Georgia, where  time and tide wait for no one. You can find out more at https://www.valonajones.com/


Crooked Lane Books, 304 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)