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Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd: A Flavia de Luce Novel
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Book Description
Hailed as "a combination of Eloise and Sherlock Holmes" by The Boston Globe, Flavia de Luce returns in a much anticipated new Christmas mystery from award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Alan Bradley.

In spite of being ejected from Miss Bodycote's Female Academy in Canada, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is excited to be sailing home to England. But instead of a joyous homecoming, she is greeted on the docks with unfortunate news: Her father has fallen ill, and a hospital visit will have to wait while he rests. But with Flavia's blasted sisters and insufferable cousin underfoot, Buckshaw now seems both too empty--and not empty enough. Only too eager to run an errand for the vicar's wife, Flavia hops on her trusty bicycle, Gladys, to deliver a message to a reclusive wood-carver. Finding the front door ajar, Flavia enters and stumbles upon the poor man's body hanging upside down on the back of his bedroom door. The only living creature in the house is a feline that shows little interest in the disturbing scene. Curiosity may not kill this cat, but Flavia is energized at the prospect of a new investigation. It's amazing what the discovery of a corpse can do for one's spirits. But what awaits Flavia will shake her to the very core.

Acclaim for Alan Bradley's beloved Flavia de Luce novels, winners of the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger Award, Barry Award, Agatha Award, Macavity Award, Dilys Award, and Arthur Ellis Award

"If ever there were a sleuth who's bold, brilliant, and, yes, adorable, it's Flavia de Luce."--USA Today

"[Flavia] is as addictive as dark chocolate."--Daily Mail

"Flavia de Luce is still the world's greatest adolescent British chemist/busybody/sleuth."--The Seattle Times

My Review
I always love when a new Flavia book gets released. She is my favorite adolescent sleuth. Alan Bradley writes the most clever plots and keeps us chuckling all the way through the book. The characters are all unique and very believable. I love the way Flavia stumbles over the dead bodies and solves the mysteries before the chief inspector does. If you haven't started reading this series, what are you waiting for? I would highly recommend them to young adults and adults who like entertaining mysteries.


The Known World
The Known World
Author: Edward P. Jones
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Book Type: Paperback
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A stiring look at the history of life in 1800 Virginia. Where slaves were property bought and sold with the other beast of burden. The story reads like conversation between friends gathered for a on the front porch.


Taken from Home: A Family, a Dark Secret, and a Brutal Murder
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The writing of this book was well done, but I do feel it was a little longer than necessary, still, the writer tried to cover the crime from all sides, which was/is commendable. The crime itself doesn't need to be discussed, as I'm reviewing the book, not the crime and Michael Blagg. I did notice that the author left out the part about the one female juror and how Blagg got a retrial. Anyway, it was an interesting read and written well.


A Love Made New (An Amish of Birch Creek Novel)
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A Love Made New by Kathleen Fuller is the third book in An Amish of Birch Creek series. Abigail Schrock has just returned home after being away for six weeks with Joanna, her injured sister. Joanna was injured in the same accident that killed their parents. Abigail is very excited to see her beau, Joel. She hurries over to his home and does not get the warm greeting she expected. Abigail fears it is because of her weight gain (she eats when unhappy or stressed). Joel has fallen for someone else while Abigail was away (helping Joanna with her rehab). Abigail is just heartbroken. Asa Bontrager runs into Abigail on her way home and tries to assist her, but she rebuffs him (repeatedly). Asa Bontrager moved to Birch Creek because he felt that God had led him to Birch Creek. He gave up everything in his old life when he relocated. God is now leading him to Abigail. Asa knows that he will have to take is slow and earn Abigail's trust. It turns out that Abigail needs help learning to manage her accounts for her rug business. Asa happens to be very good with numbers and it the perfect person to teach her bookkeeping (Abigail does not even have a bank account). Can Abigail learn to trust again? Will she be able to forgiveness Joel and see it was the best thing that ever happened to her?

Sol Troyer has changed his ways. God has slowly changed him (from being drunk, irresponsible, rude), but Sol has to prove himself to the members of his community. Sol now makes and sells birdhouses. He has a client that would like a painted birdhouse, and Irene is recommended for the position. Irene is not sure about spending time with Sol (because of his drinking and temper). But Irene is just the person to help Sol. Sol needs to know that he has been forgiven and is deserving of love (he does not feel worthy). Join Asa, Abigail, Irene, and Sol as they work through their issues in A Love Made New.

A Love Made New is a sweet story. It was nice to revisit Birch Creek and get to know more about each of these characters. We also get updates on the people from the previous novels (Aden and Sadie as well as Joanna and Andrew). This is the third book in the series, and I recommend reading the previous books in An Amish of Birch Creek series. The author does update the readers in A Love Made New of what happened in the prior novels (A Reluctant Bride and An Unbroken Heart). I just think in order to understand the various characters and their situations, you need to read the first two books (personal opinion). I liked the messages in this book about God's love and forgiveness. The ending is just lovely and heartwarming. I give A Love Made New 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it). I appreciate Ms. Fuller's writing style. It is conversational which makes for an enjoyable and easy to read book. I look forward to reading the next book by Kathleen Fuller.

I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.


Katie's Journey to Love (Emma Raber's Daughter)
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KATIE'S JOURNEY TO LOVE is the second boook in this series, but it easily stands alone. I did read book one in the series where Katie and her mother are considered weird and were outcasts, but love and a family softened them both up. Katie's Mom is much more likeable in the book and Katie is coming out of her shell beautifully, making friends and overcoming her shyness. I felt bad for her being forced to live with Mabel, when Mabel was so beyond hateful, and even though Ben did some bad things I absolutely loved him. He did a dear, dear thing for Katie.

I am anxious to read the third book in this series and need to see if I have it already before I race off to buy a copy.

Mr. Eicher has been a hit and miss author for me, but this book KATIE'S JOURNEY TO LOVE was really good and I greatly enjoyed it. If you love Amish fiction and haven't read this book, you'll want to.


A Matter of Class
A Matter of Class
Author: Mary Balogh
Genre: Romance
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
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Surprise story, enjoyed


My Dear Duchess
My Dear Duchess
Author: Marion Chesney (Ann Fairfax)
Genre: Romance
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
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Lovely,lovely story


Frozen Solid
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I thoroughly enjoyed Juris Jurjevics's "The Trudeau Vector", which featured a mysterious killer in an Arctic research facility. I liked Dan Brown's Inferno, which looked at the possibility of someone attempting to unleash a biological "solution" to the problem of overpopulation. Put the two together, and you have James Tabor's "Frozen Solid".

I enjoyed Mr. Tabor's look at a murderer loose in an Antarctic research facility, while some sort of unauthorized (and secret to all but a few most people can read between the lines here) research into disease vectors among humans. The characters seemed real to me, and mostly likeable, and the setting was certainly unique and necessary to the plot both are aspects of a book that I expect to find and am disappointed when I don't.

However ... it was disappointing not because of anything that Mr. Tabor did or didn't do, BUT because due to the luck of the draw of my earlier reading, I'd felt like I'd been there before. Still, I'm not penalizing his rating for this fact is, I did like the book, and would have liked it even more had the main plot aspects not already been covered in my earlier reading.

RATING: 4 stars.


Tasting Never (Never say Never) (Volume 1)
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Never Ross and Ty McCabe meet at a party. The meeting is not memorable., Never Ross and Ty McCabe meet again a little while later at a convenience store a convenience store about to be robbed. Never and Ross, as one may guess, develop a friendship that continues to grow. The problem with their growing attraction is that both are sex addicts, and the obvious progression of their relationship does not seem right when both are so used to sex without emotion.

Ms. C.M. Stunich has developed an interesting scenario among (mostly) likeable protagonists in "Tasting Never". Sometimes the ups and downs (figuratively get your heads out of the gutter) of their relationship seem a bit grating, but they never seem like they're gratuitously added to the book for padding or for arbitrary conflict.

The book has a sequel. I already have it, and am looking forward to getting the opportunity to read about where Never's and Ty's relationship progresses.

RATING: 4 stars

DISCLOSURE: I was gifted a copy of this book to participate in an online discussion about it. I didn't finish it in time, though. No other conditions were required for acceptance, but I'm sure a review will be appreciated.


Friction
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Loved that book, it should be a movie!!!


Fighting Back: The Chris Nilan Story
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Chris Nilan's autobiography "Fighting Back" has a lot of things typical to those books written by athletes after their playing career. It talks about the career, mentioning a number of highlight moments and incidents with both teammates and non-hockey friends. It talks about the high points and low points of the authors' experience with team management.
Chris Nilan's autobiography "Fighting Back" has a lot of things that are NOT typical to those books written by athletes after their playing career. Let's start with his brutal assessment of some of the things hinted at in the first paragraph. Incidents: Not all were pleasant. And not all were someone elses' fault; the author takes partial responsibility in many tales and full responsibility in some, as well. Especially his drug abuse and his infidelity. (However, the description of his descent into heroin use is remarkably brief and lacking detail. What happened? How? I need more than once sentence, Mr. Nilan!)

Mr. Nilan looks at some newsworth things outside of hockey that occurred in the world that affected his life. Start with James Joseph "Whitey" Bulger. Bulger was alleged to be an organized crime boss in Boston long before he was finally indicted. When Bulger fled the jurisdiction prior to a federal indictment, he took along a friend Nilan's mother-in-law, who had had a long affair with the man. (Nilan states that Bulger effectively was his father-in-law.) Nilan also had some tangential involvement with the priest/child abuse scandal in the Boston Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church. No, he was neither abuser nor victim, BUT some of his childhood friends and acquaintances were. And one of his long-standing friends among the clergy was among the accused. (No spoilers here as to how things turned out; suffice to say that Nilan attempted to keep a level head as to whether the former alleged child victim or the alleged abuser was telling the truth)

Chris Nilan's autobiography "Fighting Back" is missing one thing typical to those books written by athletes after their playing career a credited ghost-writer. Either Mr. Nilan invested a lot more money in hiring someone who stayed entirely behind the scenes, or (and this is much more likely) he actually DID write the book himself.

Definitely a great read, with a lot of reminisces and background for hockey fans AND some very interesting aspects for non-hockey fans, as well.

RATING: 4 1/2 stars. Rounded up to 5 stars where 1/2 stars are not permitted.


Kevin Smith's Green Hornet Volume 2: Wearing o' the Green TP
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The first edition of Kevin Smith's limited series rebooting "The Green Hornet" only did a fair job of catching and keeping my attention. BUT it did it well enough to convince me to pick up and read the second edition (of 2).

And ... my general impression of the 2nd book was pretty much the same as the first.

Nice art, helps tell the story. Lots of action sequences, perhaps even too much at the expense of character development. A fair tale, based in large part on stories you've probably read before. (Father dies, son vows revenge. Older man fills father-figure role to teach son the ways of crime-fighting) Yes, there are a few modifications and differences to this theme, such as the fact that sensei has his OWN child, whom he has also trained. (There is a surprise or two here, however but no spoilers from me.) And toss in the fact that the father's foe has a son looking for revenge it's not really of a spoiler since this fact was telegraphed from the characters' first appearance!

Add in a nod to those 1950s Batman comics featuring the enlarged machinery, and you have ... what amounts to an average comic. Not bad, not great. Worth reading, but no one's life will have a gap if they never get around to reading this series.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars, rounded down to 3 stars where 1/2 stars are not permitted.


Kevin Smith's Green Hornet TP Vol 01: Sins of the Father
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In "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay", Michael Chabon makes reference to his comic artist Josef Kavalier making regular trips to the cinema not for personal entertainment, but to learn cinematography tricks that he could apply to his drawings. This initiative and innovation, combined with his talent, made him a well-respected artist in the field.

In "The Green Hornet Volume 1: Sins of the Father", the fictitious concept described above is applied in the real world. Kevin Smith wrote a script for a prospective Green Hornet movie which was never made. (In fact, an alternative Green Hornet movie was eventually made using other creative talents.) It was suggested that they take the script and convert it to a comic book limited series.

In my opinion, the results were mixed. The art itself is quite nice from a visual standpoint AND it also does a good job in allowing the reader to advance the story. Not perfect for example, some of the "pages" actually need to be read left-to-right across both left and right pages, as opposed to the traditional one-page-at-a-time technique. It was not clear to me, the reader, this was the case, and required me to do a little rereading before I understood what was going on.

The plot was nice enough, although a little stereotypical. The Green Hornet and Kato successfully retired from their pseudo-criminal illusion which was actually their successful attempt to fight crime. Both raised a child, who end up following in their footsteps when the crime syndicates return to take over the city.

There are a lot of action sequences in this book, as befits a visual medium. At some times, it felt like the fight scenes ran on too long for me, though and avoided the need to perform any character development.

It was worth moving on to the second part (of 2) of this series, and was pleasant enough, but out of all of the comics I've ever read, this was simply one of them.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars, rounded down to 3 stars where 1/2 stars are not permitted.


Angel's Rest (Eternity Springs, Bk 1)
Angel's Rest (Eternity Springs, Bk 1)
Author: Emily March
Genre: Romance
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
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I loved this book because it espouses hope and victory in the face of real issues people face. It was so good I ordered all of the rest of the books in this series! This is a story that, like the Mitford series, brings you in to the little town in Colorado and makes you feel like you are sitting on the front porch with the characters. It's one of those books you can't quit reading but you really don't want to see end!


Freewheeling After Sixty
Freewheeling After Sixty
Author: Judi Bonilla
Genre: Nonfiction
Book Type: Paperback
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Well-meaning but a disappointment; I admit that's at least partially because I'd already heard of almost all the groups the author recommends contacting for help. A quote from the book: "Your community may have all the resources I have described above and more, OR YOU MAY FIND THE PROGRAM IS VERY LIMITED. [All caps mine.] No kidding; we don't even have Uber or Lyft around here. The only 2 groups she recommends that are in my area are operating with such low resources (i.e., money) that they're no help in most cases (one place is totally staffed by volunteers so it usually takes at least 3 days for a phone call to even be returned).

So, unfortunately, as is the case for most of these "help" books, it only helps if you're in or near enough to an urban area. What would really help seniors (and anyone else with driving issues) is something that would really address the issue for those of us too far away from the urban areas that have the resources we need. But that would be a massive undertaking since the U.S is so big that everyone's spread out all over the place; and if you think the solution is simply "move closer to an urban area then": hard and in most cases impossible if you're elderly and/or can't afford to.


Skippy Dies: A Novel
Skippy Dies: A Novel
Author: Paul Murray
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Book Type: Hardcover
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SKIPPY DIES was a mixed bag for me. Pros: The author does a great job of authentically voicing so many characters, from teenaged boys to frustrated adults. There are funny sections, like the mayhem at the Halloween Hop, any interchange with acting principal Greg Costigan, and the Christmas concert. Cons: The novel is too ambitious. There are too many minor characters that distract from, rather than add to, the story. And each main character, like teacher Howard, has too many story lines--his past at the school, his infatuation with another teacher, his current girlfriend, his attempt to teach the students about world War I, etc. At more than 650 pages, SKIPPY DIES felt like a chore to get through. A more streamlined story would have been more effective.


Return to the Dinosaur Planet (The Young Scientifics) (Volume 1)
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The Young Scientifics Book 1: Return to the Dinosaur Planet is a fast-paced, adventure-filled story. It is geared toward middle grade readers, but I loved it! This is the story of Peter Baker, his little sister, Pearl and their friend, Casey Tucker. Peter has grand plans to become famous by being the youngest scientist to produce his own documentary show about dinosaurs. This should be an easy task since his parents are dinosaur hunters and take the children on all their dinosaur digs. Unfortunately, things have a way of changing. Dad has taken a job at a museum and Mom is off to Africa, so there will be no dinosaur hunt this summer. To make matters worse, Peter has to watch his little sister and make sure they do a "normal" activity every day of the summer. Boring!

Peter meets Casey Tucker, the nephew of a museum employee that is visiting his aunt for the summer. They hit it off immediately. Casey has plans of his own for the summer. He is in search of scientist that went missing years ago while working on a special project and gets Casey to help him on his quest. What happens next is a most exciting adventure, but you'll have to read the book yourself to find out more.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't wait for my son to read it. I give it 4 stars and highly recommend it for personal or family reading time. I can't wait to read the next book in the series when it comes out. I received a free copy of the book from the author and The Book Club Network, Inc. in exchange for my honest review.


Until She Comes Home
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I read and enjoyed "Bent Road" by this author so decided to move on to "Until She Comes Home". I enjoyed this as well. It's the story of the women who live on Alder Ave in Detroit. It's 1958 and neighbors knew and watched out for each other. There are still issues of color and then one of the women dissappear. There was alot of "50's era" in this novel that I enjoyed being taken back to. The bakesale, the fashion the close neighborhood feel. The suspense was built layer upon layer. I was flipping pages one right after the other. Ms. Roy gives her readers a genuine taste of haunting suspense. I kept on reading into the night until my fingers ached from holding the book so tight. No kidding.


Mr. Miracle
Mr. Miracle
Author: Debbie Macomber
Genre: Romance
Book Type: Paperback
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There's more to the story than the blurb above, I assure you.


American Outrage
American Outrage
Author: Tim Green
Book Type: Audio CD
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Excellent read


If You Knew Suzy: A Mother, a Daughter, a Reporter's Notebook
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Beautiful story. A lovely tribute to author's mother who died of cancer. Very fullfilling read.


Turning Angel (Penn Cage, Bk 2)
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love reading Greg Iles' works. Always amazed at the constant action that develops his stories.


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Completely 5 stars. An absolutly beautiful book on farming animal friendly and living a more humane life. Living vegan. The pictures are plentiful, all in color and each one endearing. Lots of wonderful vegan recipes, many of which we've tried and i've copied. The book is a guide to eating mindfully, thus connecting to animals and to reducing daily stress. It's a book you'll pick up often. Well worth the money I spent.


Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
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Simonson truly created a first-rate character in Major Pettigrew. He's so real, but upstanding. He's flawed, but all a person should hope to be. A lot like Louise Penny's character Gamache.


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