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Thursday, March 28, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: A Bidder End by Ellery Adams, Parker Riggs



A Bidder End (Antiques & Collectibles Mysteries Book 7)

Kindle Edition, 151 pages
Published March 6th 2019 by Beyond the Page



Goodreads synopsis:
A brand-new book in the Antiques & Collectibles Mystery Series byNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Ellery Adams and Parker Riggs. 

In the world of antiques and collectibles, it helps to have a sharp eye for quality, a good ear for gossip, and a nose for murder. 

When a retired Hollywood A-lister decides to auction off part of his enviable collection of antiques, reporter Molly Appleby is thrilled to be covering the event for Collector’s Weekly, and she’s certain it will secure the reputation of the dealer handling it, a friend of hers. But soon after the final gavel comes down, the actor’s secretary vanishes and the antiques dealer is found dead, apparently having taken his own life. Molly’s not sold on the coroner’s verdict of suicide, though, and she can’t help but start digging for clues to what she suspects is foul play. 

As she begins to delve into the private life of her friend and his connections with the actor’s staff, Molly slowly discovers that the dealer was far more unscrupulous than she ever imagined and that nearly everyone who knew him had a motive for murder. And when another body turns up and the devious killer begins leaving mysterious clues to taunt Molly and the police, Molly finds herself facing a cunning culprit who wants to see her going, going, gone . . . 

***

4 Stars

"As I have been reading this title, I realized it seemed very familiar. As I did a little investigating into my Goodreads history I discovered I had read book one in this series a few years back. Nice to see it is still going strong.

I enjoyed revisiting the characters here. Of the majority of the books I have read over the years, this series stands out to me. Now, I couldn’t have told you any of the character’s names but the antique auction, the uber bad guy and the pottery made book one in this series stand out in my mind.

The characters here were interesting and the setting was as appealing as I remembered it. I was happy to jaunt along with Molly as she met the retired actor selling off his huge collection of things. It was kind of sad, really. He sold all this stuff because his new wife, who was the same age as his daughter, told him to. She was more minimalist, I guess. I believe this is set in Vermont, so I foresee a divorce in Atlas’s future since said wife really liked the night life and the action she found when he was still in the “biz”.

The death came early in the story and it was a familiar face to Molly, one of the men from an auction house. Molly inserted herself into the case early since she was a friend of the victim and the detective thought it was suicide in the beginning, Only Molly’s knowledge of the victim helped the case to fruition.

This was a fun and complex mystery. The flow of the text was excellent but I did have a bit of trouble navigating between the three men with the names that started with J. I do recommend this to all who love a good cozy mystery. Take my advice and check out all the books in this series. You won’t regret it.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

____

USA Today and New York Times bestseller author, Ellery Adams, has written over thirty novels and can’t imagine spending a day away from the keyboard. Ms. Adams, a Native New Yorker, has had a lifelong love affair with stories, food, rescue animals, and large bodies of water. When not working on her next novel, she bakes, gardens, drinks vats of coffee, spoils her three cats, and snacks on black licorice. She lives with her husband and two children (aka the Trolls) in North Carolina.

BOOK REVIEW: The Art of Connecting to THE AKASHIC RECORD by Leonid Altshuler M.D.



The Art of Connecting to THE AKASHIC RECORD: The Unique Nepalese Meditation

Kindle Edition, 41 pages
Published March 1st 2019



Goodreads synopsis:
Dr. Leonid Altshuler M.D., a board-certified psychiatrist, went through years of misdiagnosis and suffering before he discovered what you are about to learn. Here's how Dr. Altshuler puts it:
"There are millions people all over the world going to see psychics, regularly, trying to find out what going to happen to them in the future.
One theory of how psychics achieve their success is that there is a universal field of the energy, called the Akashic record, which contain all the information about all the events in the past, present and the future.
We do not need a psychic to help us access this information.
In this book I will describe a practical method of connecting to the Akashic record, which I learned on a trip to Nepal, where I spent a lot of time in a Temple, being tought by Masters.
If you are in any way interested in how the past, present and future are connected this book is a must.

***

4 Stars

You should probably be aware before you spend your money that this book is only 41 pages long. But these few pages do pack a punch. I wish the author had put in more examples and techniques into these pages to flesh it out a bit, but I understand he has other books out that cover these things. And that is good to know.

When I first learned about the Akashic Record, I was told that you had to do a complex set of instructions to even be let into this sacred realm. Here the author shows you how easy it can be to access and uses his own life to provide examples.

Hopefully, we do not have to travel to another country and eat only Yak meat and drink only water to attain such a state that makes us receptive to gaining the knowledge of the ages. But I found it interesting that the diet held such importance to establishing a connection. Also, he speaks about how stress and being in a stressful environment can keep us from unlocking this sacred door to wisdom.

I never thought about how our diet could impede our entrance into this realm. And this I found fascinating. I will definitely be trying some of the exercises and seeing how successful I can be doing the same techniques the author suggests.



I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

BOOK REVIEW: THE CASTLE MYSTERY by Faith Martin



THE CASTLE MYSTERY

Kindle Edition, 183 pages
Published February 27th 2019 by Joffe Books mystery and crime



Goodreads synopsis:
Meet Jenny Starling: travelling cook and reluctant amateur detective. 

Please note this book was first published as “AN INVISIBLE MURDER” under Faith Martin’s pen name JOYCE CATO. 

Jenny Starling has her dream job cooking for Lord and Lady Avonsleigh in a genuine castle. 

Then one of the castle’s treasures, a fabulously jewelled dagger, is used to murder a staff member. The victim is found stabbed through the heart in the conservatory. 

Lady Avonsleigh insists that Jenny help the police find the murderer. 

But how can Jenny solve this case when the murder was committed in front of several reliable witnesses, none of whom saw a thing? 

This is the fourth of a series of enjoyable murder mysteries with a great cast of characters and baffling crimes which will keep you in suspense to the final page. 

Perfect for fans of classic whodunits by authors like Agatha Christie, LJ Ross, TE Kinsey, and J.R. Ellis. 

JENNY STARLING MYSTERIES 
Book 1: THE BIRTHDAY MYSTERY 
Book 2: THE WINTER MYSTERY 
Book 3: THE RIVERBOAT MYSTERY 
Book 4: THE CASTLE MYSTERY 

***

3 Stars

I want to start this off by saying this was not a bad book. The plot was intricate and well thought out. The characters were well built and the voice of the text flowed well.

My main problem was that I couldn’t really get into this book until about halfway through. I felt like the first half was akin to walking through quicksand. But when all the action started happening, that was when the story started for me.

Most of this was excellent. There were a few scenes that got left out that I couldn’t understand. As a mystery lover, the part at the end where they discover the killer and show you how that happens, that is key for me to loving a book. Here it was skipped as the detective and his co-hort hid behind a screen to hear all the revelations, but those revelations didn’t come in a way I could see. The detective refers to it at the end and that was all. I was let down. I didn’t get to experience the climax of the story and that is what forced me to rate this book as a 3.

As I said, outstanding mystery construction and character development. But if we don’t get to follow along and experience  the “whodunit” I fear others besides me would feel let down and not want to check out other works this author has to offer.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.
_____

Faith Martin has been writing for over 25 years and has had nearly 50 novels published. Born in Oxford, she has set most of her crime novels within sight of the 'dreaming spires'. And right now, Joffe Books are re-issuing all 17 of her DI Hillary Greene series in new updated editions! 

BOOK REVIEW: You Can Achieve Normal Blood Sugar by Dennis Pollock



You Can Achieve Normal Blood Sugar: Discover the Surprising Results from Over 100 Blood Sugar Tests

Paperback, 224 pages
Expected publication: April 2nd 2019 by Harvest House Publishers



Goodreads synopsis:
Discover the Secret to Successfully Manage Your Blood Sugar

If high blood sugar is something you struggle with, chances are you've been overwhelmed by the wealth of well-meaning information you've heard from doctors, nutritionists, and other sources. Isn't it time to put the theories to the test and determine once and for all how to get your numbers back to normal?

That's exactly what bestselling author Dennis Pollock did. And the results of well over 100 blood sugar tests he conducted for this book, further backed by brand-new research and real-life stories, will give you the answers you've been searching for.

In addition, you'll learn why, how, and when to test, the importance of reading food labels, helpful guidelines for weight control and general nutrition, and so much more.

For the first time in your diabetic journey, you will finally be able to experience what it feels like to know that maintaining normal blood sugar isn't just possible, it's entirely achievable.

***

5 Stars

This book blew my mind. As a pre-diabetic myself, I recognized many of the thing Pollock referred to when dealing with a doctor. I was only told to “eat better” but they don’t really tell you what that means. And like others, I was told to only take my blood reading first thing in the morning to check my fasting blood level.

I want to send a big THANK YOU to Dennis Pollock for writing this book. I did my first 1 hour after eating reading and my blood glucose level jumped from a fasting level of 133 to 251! I was stunned to say the least. My body was effiectively crying out for  help and I hadn’t even noticed.

I had done a very strict Atkins diet when I was younger and before my pre-diabetic label had been attached to my name. But now I see that I can eat more low carb and find a better and better reading on my blood glucose monitor.

This is only the beginning of my journey and I hope to attain the success others have had. Another thank you and a request that: EVERY DIABETIC AND PRE-DIABETIC NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK!

I have already bought the other two books that came before this and will soon watch some of his YouTube videos. After all, knowledge is power.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

_____

Dennis Pollock has a popular YouTube channel called Beat Diabetes.

BOOK REVIEW: The New Happiness by Matthew McKay



The New Happiness: Practices for Spiritual Growth and Living with Intention
Paperback, 200 pages
Published March 1st 2019 by Reveal Press


We all want to be happy, but how do we achieve it? This unique workbook blends spiritual wisdom with evidence-based psychological practices to help you achieve lasting fulfillment. 

Most of us are searching for happiness in one form or another, but the “happiness” we’ve been conditioned to pursue is often elusive and fleeting. When we base our happiness on what we have—such as material possessions or status recognition from others—our happiness is no longer in our control. This workbook will show you that happiness is not about accumulating and consuming, or even achieving some deep state of spiritual bliss. Instead, you’ll find a fresh perspective on how to achieve authentic happiness rooted in spiritual values and actions.

Written by two best-selling authors in the field of psychology (The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook), this guide blends mindfulness-based spiritual practices with evidence-based acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to help you develop your own spiritual action plan. Using the practical guidance and exercises in this guide, you’ll create a set of principles and behaviors aligned with your deepest values and sense of purpose, and learn to make decisions with a wise mind.

Every moment of your life is an opportunity to make choices based on your own personal, deeply held spiritual values—why not start now? This workbook will give you the hands-on tools you need to get started. 

***

4 Stars

Unlike some other reviewers, I did read the entire book. I thought this would make a great reference book to keep referring back to time and time again. You are not always going to want to do every exercise held within this book but all the exercises are timeless. I particularly enjoyed the Deep Knowledge Meditation. and the exercise where you are cutting the energetic cords you have attached between you and others.

This wasn’t exactly a book on how to be happy but instead how to learn to be the most authentic you that is possible by knowing your purpose, putting that purpose into effect and living your life with gratitude and joy. When you gain all this knowledge, in the end, you find you are happy.

I truly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others who were on the spiritual path to finding their best life.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.
_____
Matthew McKay, PhD, is a professor of psychology at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, and author of more than 30 professional psychology and self-help books which have sold a combined total of more than 3 million copies. He is co-founder of independent self-help publisher, New Harbinger Publications. He was the clinical director of Haight Ashbury Psychological Services in San Francisco for twenty five years. He is current director of the Berkeley CBT Clinic. An accomplished novelist and poet, his poetry has appeared in two volumes from Plum Branch Press and in more than sixty literary magazines. His most recent novel, Wawona Hotel,

Monday, March 25, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Cherry Scones & Broken Bones by Darci Hannah




Cherry Scones & Broken Bones
by Darci Hannah (Goodreads Author)

Paperback, 360 pages
Expected publication: June 8th 2019 by Midnight Ink


Goodreads synopsis:
For the Cherry Orchard Inn, "Cherry scones to die for" turns out to be all too true

Tainted by a recent murder, the Cherry Orchard Inn is struggling to attract guests . . . until celebrated portrait painter, Silvia Lumiere, books a room for the summer. Whitney Bloom, the inn's new manager, can't believe her good luck. Between her scrumptious cherry scones and the painter's remarkable talent, the inn swiftly becomes the center of the Cherry Cove art scene. However, all is not the bowl of cherries it appears. There's a rotten core in the portrait painter that only Whitney and her friends can see. And just as Whitney's baking skills and patience are pushed to their limits, another death occurs at the inn. With all fingers pointing at her, Whitney realizes it will take all her cherry-tastic talents to bake her way out of this one.
Genre: Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Food, Bed and Breakfast, Murder Mystery, Romance, Sequel

***

4.5 Stars

I wasn’t quite invested in this book until the portrait painter, Silvia, landed on the scene and put everyone in some sort of fix.  This woman was just mean, mean, mean. I wanted to knock her off her block for treating everyone like she did. I mean, I was feeling stress for all these people, especially Whitney. After that, I was all in. I was riding this cherry boat all the way to the end.

Other reviewers said they knew who the murder victim would be from the very beginning but I was clueless. I did not read book one in this series and so I wasn’t as familiar with the characters as others might have been. I felt all the characters were fully developed and you could remember who was who from scene to scene. It some books that is a challenge. No problem here. The character development was excellent, and the storyline really sucks you in. Just a stellar book.

I enjoyed the setting of Cherry Cove too. The references to Chicago and towns surrounding it made it seem like these characters lived in my backyard. I live in the southern part of Illinois and I wondered if I would stumble across any of the action. No really, but it was neat to think about.

This is a series I think cozy mystery lovers would enjoy. Definitely check this one out.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

_____

Darci Hannah lives in a small town in Michigan with her husband, three sons, lovable springer spaniel, Finley and golden retriever pup, Ripley. She is the author of Cherry Pies & Deadly Lies (Midnight Ink, 2018) and two previous works of historical fiction, The Exile of Sara Stevenson (Ballantine Books, 2010, 2nd edition by Piffle & Bombast 2016) and the Angel of Blythe Hall (Ballantine Books, 2011). 

BOOK REVIEW: A Crime of Passion Fruit by Ellie Alexander 



A Crime of Passion Fruit
by Ellie Alexander (Goodreads Author)

Mass Market Paperback, 266 pages
Published June 27th 2017 by St. Martin's Paperbacks\


Goodreads synopsis:
Torte--everybody's favorite small-town family bakeshop--is headed for the high seas, where murder is about to make a splash. . . 

Jules Capshaw is trying to keep her cool as Torte gets set to make its transformation from quaint, local confectionary cafe to royal pastry palace. Meanwhile, Jules's estranged husband Carlos is making a desperate plea for her to come aboard his cruise ship and dazzle everyone with her signature sweets. She may be skeptical about returning to her former nautical life with Carlos but Jules can't resist an all-expense-paid trip, either. If only she knew that a dead body would find its way onto the itinerary . .

***

5 Stars

This i s my first foray into the Bakeshop Mystery series. I picked this book up at my local grocery store, which to my luck, carries cozy mysteries. I know you should probably start with book one in a series but I didn’t have any trouble getting into this book. The set up in the first few chapters really gives you a handle on who is who and what is going on in the universe in and around Ashland.

Like in the last Ellie Alexander book I read, this main character is estranged from her husband. I wonder if Alexander has a background which helps her flesh out this sort of relationship or she just has people in her life she can look to for motivation. She portrays these relationships very realistically. Husband, Carlos, is a pastry chef on a boutique cruise liner. This  book sure gives you an inside look at how hard these people (the kitchen staff) work to pull off all the magnificent food prepared on a cruise ship. I was in awe. 

The storyline was rock solid and I loved how she brought the activities back in Ashland back into the picture through the emails of Thomas, Lance and others. This helped keep us connected to all that was going on in the book and I thought a key part of the success of the title. The people who regularly read this series will want to see their favorite characters and these emails made that possible even if in a small way.

I look forward to diving into the first book of this series and starting all over and see what truly makes this series such a successful and integral part of the cozy-mystery community.

I bought this book with my own money.

_____

Ellie Alexander, author of the Bakeshop Mystery Series (St. Martin's Press), is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. Aka Kate Dyer-Seeley

BOOK REVIEW: Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander 



Death on Tap
by Ellie Alexander (Goodreads Author)

Hardcover, 310 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Minotaur Books


Goodreads synopsis:
When Sloan Krause walks in on her husband, Mac, screwing the barmaid, she gives him the boot. Sloan has spent her life in Leavenworth, Washington becoming an expert in brewing craft beer, and she doesn’t have time to be held back by her soon-to-be ex-husband. She decides to strike out on her own, breaking away from the Krause family brewery, and goes to work for Nitro, the hip new nano-brewery in the Bavarian-themed town. Nitro’s owner, brewmaster Garrett Strong, has the brew-world abuzz with his newest recipe, “Pucker-Up IPA.” This place is the new cool place in town, and Mac can’t help but be green with envy at their success.

But just as Sloan is settling in to her new gig, she finds one of Nitro’s competitors dead in the fermenting tub, clutching the secret recipe for the IPA. When Mac, is arrested, Sloan knows that her ex might be a cheater, but a murderer? No way. Danger is brewing in Beervaria and suddenly Sloan is on the case.

***

5 Stars

I had thought this was a new author to me but I soon realized she also wrote the “Scene of the Climb” series under the pen name Kate Dyer-Seeley. I really enjoyed that series. You should definitely check it out when you finish reading this lovely. Alexander also has a “Bakeshop Mystery” series as well. They are all good. Definitely a must read author if you love cozy mysteries.

My cousin Shawn, has been into brewing for a long time and I thought this book would give me a glance into what has him so fascinated about it. Alexander does a great jpob of setting the scene. The town just jumps off the page. The characters, even in book one, are so fully crafted you would almost think these were real people and you are just watching a movie about their brewery lives.

The plot is outstanding and keeps you guessing and the personal relationship between Sloan and Mac has you just as perplexed as the main character. How can  you make a marriage and business work under those circumstances. But Alexander does it all with class and grace. I will definitely be checking out more of her series in the future. That is a guarantee.

I bought this book with my own money.

_____

Ellie Alexander, author of the Bakeshop Mystery Series (St. Martin's Press), is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. Aka Kate Dyer-Seeley

BOOK REVIEW: Innocent in Las Vegas by A.R. Winters



Innocent in Las Vegas

Kindle Edition, 200 pages
Published September 2013


Goodreads synopsis:
Cupcake-loving croupier Tiffany Black is determined to leave her job at the casino for good. She's one small step away from acquiring her Private Investigator license, and has her eye on the prize.
Alternate cover

Accepting her first real case - investigating the murder of casino-mogul Ethan Becker - should be exciting. Instead, things spiral out of control and Tiffany finds herself in over her head, as she confronts secretive suspects, corrupt casino henchmen and her mysterious, ex-Special Forces bodyguard.

Tiffany's poker-hustling Nanna and pushy parents want her to find a nice man and settle down, but Tiffany just wants to track down the real murderer before he finds her first...

***

3 Stars

I thought this book was interesting and had a lot of potential. I do wish it had been fleshed out a bit more. It wasn’t really clear why Tiffany was such a lover of cupcakes and why that addiction mattered to the storyline. Most of the covers in this series have cupcakes on them so I was just curious as to the why of it all. And maybe it was just because she liked them and met a man in her building who was a former pastry chef who liked to bake for his friends.

Before the book began, Tiffany’s family was already wondering why she wasn’t practically shacked up with a man named Stone and that kinda threw me. Then, almost after her initial meeting with Officer Nick three-fourths of the way through the book, Stone wanted to know if she liked him. That must have been an insta-karmic connection and how Stone found out about it so fast is anyone's guess. Things just seemed to happen too fast for me. I understand that this book is only 200 pages burt these characters are interesting, the plot had some meat to it and it really could have been a great book. I am hopeful that other books in the series develop things more and bring out a 4 or 5 star rating from me. Cross your fingers for me.


I bought this book with my own money.