Review: Rattles, the Barn Cat Misfit

Rattles, the Barn Cat Misfit Rattles, the Barn Cat Misfit by Arlene White
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My granddaughter, 4, liked the story well enough, but it didn't have enough pictures for her. It is a sweet story.

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Review: A Missing Madonna

A Missing Madonna A Missing Madonna by Cicely van Straten
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an insightful look at Christianity in Uganda. I would recommend this read for lots of reasons. It is definitely written from a Catholic point of view and gives insights to the warmth and deep love of God of the Uganda people.

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Review: Stratagem

Stratagem Stratagem by Robin Caroll
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great one from Robin Caroll.

She grabs the reader and won't let go. I live very close to New Orleans, and Caroll really gets NOLA. There is a great flavor about the city that a lot of authors try to capture but don't. Caroll does.

Story premise is very good. Murder of an ex-wife and multiple culprits have motive to do her in, especially her ex-husband. Just the kind of gumbo mix that gives a lasting taste and satisfaction.

I won't spoil it for you, but I double dog dare you to figure this one out before the end. It's a great puzzler.

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Review: Stuck in Manistique

Stuck in Manistique Stuck in Manistique by Dennis Cuesta
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of the most fun books I've read in a long time.

It's unique in premise as well as the myriad of characters, some quirky and some with definite depths that I look forward to exploring in later books.

One of my favorite things about this book is the way Dennis Cuesta deals with death. Mostly it is the death of people hardly known, or not known very well. An aunt dies and leaves all her possessions to her nephew. What's so dramatic about that? A lot, and you'll be so glad you picked up this book to find out why.

I'm giving it four stars because I wasn't thrilled with the beginning. It was rather boring. I put it down, and then went back to it because I said I'd review the thing. I thought it would be a skim through, but instead, it gripped me in throws of laughter and sadness and surprise and at times made me want to have a sit-down talk with a character or two to get them set on the right track. You'll figure out who I'm talking about when you read the book.

Lively characters move the story along. Some just float in and float away, but isn't that how people do when they stay at a bed and breakfast? No one actually stays for long, but somehow things happen and some people change their minds, some people actually see the real benefits of being stuck in Manistique.

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Review: Trauma Recovery - Sessions with Dr. Matt: Narratives of Hope and Resilience for Victims with Ptsd

Trauma Recovery - Sessions with Dr. Matt: Narratives of Hope and Resilience for Victims with Ptsd Trauma Recovery - Sessions with Dr. Matt: Narratives of Hope and Resilience for Victims with Ptsd by Matt E. Jaremko
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a gutsy book. I say that because not many readers like creative non-fiction where scientific points are made then illustrated with fictional illustrations. I know because I wrote a book using that format and didn't seel many copies. But I didn't have the credentials that Matt Jaremko has illustrated with the alphabet behind his name.

I'm not a therapist, nor am I someone who can really judge well what will help most people as they recover from trauma. So many people deal with it in so many different ways. I am a Christian who always goes to the Great Physician for healing--but I have had therapy a couple of times in my life to deal with some terrible issues. That's why it is always a good idea to leave that door open.

One of the purposes of this book is to help people understand how therapy works, and how it can help them deal with post traumatic stress disorder.

This book takes several different situations in fictional form and tackles the handling of PTSD in each situation. Because the situations are so varied, anyone suffering from PTSD will find pearls of wisdom and insights. There are some very good helps/resources in the back for you to walk through the kind of therapy that is depicted in this book.

I liked the book. I really liked the laymen's presentation so I could understand what was being depicted. I was very disappointed that faith wasn't presented as a major part of the healing process--but I didn't clarify that aspect with Dr. Jaremko before agreeing to review this book. So, that wasn't factored into my ranking. I liked it, but I didn't feel a deep connection with any of the people in the group therapy. Maybe it was the way the characters were depicted. I don't know. Maybe because it is so very difficult to write non-fiction with fictional illustrations to bring home the point.

Don't let that scare you away from the book. It can definitely be helpful to anyone that has suffered, is suffering PTSD and to those who are close to a person suffering PTSD.

I received this book from Dr. Matt Jaremko. This is my honest opinion of the book.

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Review: Paws, Claws, and Magic Tales: A Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology

Paws, Claws, and Magic Tales: A Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology Paws, Claws, and Magic Tales: A Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology by H.L. Burke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pretty good read overall.

The first story nabbed my attention with the first sentence. Loved it and it is worth buying the book. It set a really high standard for the rest of the stories, and for the most part they all lived up to it. Just one story I couldn't get into so didn't finish it. But the rest were good. That is high praise because I'm not generally a fantasy fan.

You don't have to like cats to love these stories. I have always had a cat for a pet and now I have two. They keep me laughing all the time, and these stories have some great chuckles in store for you. Yep, a worthy buy.

I received my ARC from the authors in eBook format. This is my honest opinion :)

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Review: The Secluded Village Murders

The Secluded Village Murders The Secluded Village Murders by Shelly Frome
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm glad I didn't know that Shelly Frome is male before I read this book. I have sort of a prejudice against male writers trying to get inside female heads and making the character believable. Female writers trying to get inside male heads gives me almost the same shudders, but not quite.

Therefore, I was surprised when I went to review this book and there's a photo of the author! A professor no less. While there wasn't quite the kind of female introspection in this story as in stories written by females, I thought it was the stiff-upper-lip type of British through processing. I like that writing style so didn't think much of it. That's the only difference I can tell.

If you don't like British style humor, or British style mysteries, then you won't like this book. The humor comes from the characters, and they are quirky, and they are wonderfully developed. I've met people just like these, and it was clear from the outset that Frome understands elderly people very well. After seeing his photo, I now know why. There is a great small town flavor about this story with all the small town secrets and busybodiness, too. It is a wonderful combination.

The story drags in a few places, but don't skip them because you'll miss some important clues. One thing I like about this book is the reader is given all the clues necessary to solve the mystery. Another thing I liked is that I figured it out, but not too early.

A most satisfying read.

Five of five stars.

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Review: A Printer’s Choice

A Printer’s Choice A Printer’s Choice by W. L. Patenaude
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This has a bit of a slow start. Instead of starting with the murder, we are with the one man who can reason with the human-like printers. Then we backflash and jump heads a bit. It isn't so much confusing but quite disturbing to the reading flow. I wasn't gripped by this story because the characters didn't seem full-blown, living color to me at first, so I didn't care about the murder or the man who was going to solve the mystery.

However, the story grows on you. If you keep at it you'll find some literary gems that lend a good flavor to this story. There's a brief moment when I was transported back to my college campus movie night, blankets on the grass, the smell of mosquito repellant and the strains of 2001 Space Odessy, and Hal's voice ringing into the night air. Those are the almost human Printers that brought that memory back.

This is more a study in human condition than a murder mystery, in my opinion. I wanted to read it because of the mystery. Found a different kind of story, and it was enjoyable, just different.

Received this book from Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

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Review: The Murder at Redmire Hall

The Murder at Redmire Hall The Murder at Redmire Hall by J.R. Ellis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been having lots of fun watching several different British cop shows, one of my favorites is DCI (Detective Chief Inspector) aka Boss Banks. This book reminded me of that show. The top detective is quite personable, even though he is a DI and not DCI, and his trusty DS, detective sergeant explore the murder of Lord Redmire.

I found the characters are all distinctive and believable. In fact, the blending of characters and their subsequent reactions to situations, and add to that the mystery of the room, and it almost made me not really care whodunit. Just an enjoyable read. Not a lot of English slang so it is very understandable. There is some dry wit (my favorite kind of humor).

Four of Five stars for making me not really care whodunit, which is the purpose of a murder mystery!

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Review: Caught by Surprise

Caught by Surprise Caught by Surprise by Jen Turano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found myself laughing out loud several times while reading this delightful story. It is the 3rd, and you'd probably do best reading the first 2 before this one because the cast of characters is gigantic. So gigantic that you might get lost like I did.

We have two main characters (MC). Temperance and Gilbert who grew up together, went about their separate lives, and then were thrown back together by her evil-minded cousins. At least for most of the book they are evil-minded.

There is some great writing here as well as pretty good plot development. However, the problem is there are too many characters to wrap your head around if you didn't read the first 2 books. It felt like this book was the wrap up so there were lots of story threads that had to be knotted and woven back into the tapestry of the overarching storyline. In some places the thing is extremely predictable. In other places, the story is quite surprising and full of humor. There is a slight mystery going on in the background. But don't worry there isn't one strand or thread left undone.

I got to what I thought was the perfect ending and realized there were several more chapters. Again, this was for the first 2 books. This might be a good way to write to sell books. I don't know. There was quite a bit that didn't interest me.

However, from the very first page the reader is drawn into a delightful story about two people who do not know they love each other, lots and lots of money, parents killed in the Amazon jungle, evil cousins, and several eccentric, peripheral characters that give you a few belly laughs.

Received this book from Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

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Review: Justice Betrayed

Justice Betrayed Justice Betrayed by Patricia Bradley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very well written!

Love the premise of an Elvis week in Memphis. You don't really get a great feel for Memphis the town, but Patricia Bradley does an excellent job of characterizations. These are real Southern people in a big city (not like New York, but not small town, either). Believable characters in a stand alone story, even though it's the 3rd in the series. I didn't get lost or feel like I missed something, or even like I started reading in the middle. That is hard for a writer to do, and Bradley does it well.

Suspense is good, maybe not edge of your seat, but you find out as Dect. Sloane finds out, so you can detect along with her. I really like that. You've also got a nice romance that walks along with you. The romance isn't the main focus, but it is a nice sub-story that lends interest.

The mystery is good. Also rare these days that a mystery author plays by the rules. Nothing is held back for a "surprise" ending. If you pay attention, you'll know whodunit. But that doesn't detract from the story or the mystery.

One thing I don't like is for an author to get into the head of the murderer for a chapter or so. Why? There was really no point here, either. Motive for murder is totally different than the reason why someone is capable of murder (or even has committed murder before). Motive is a driving force. It's compelling and must be believable. Here motive is believable, but it is a little blurred. Yet, that blurring is rather compelling as well. Sorry for the mixed signals here, it's just that I'm waffling between the extra info and if it was really necessary to move the story along, or if it was kept because it was good writing and very suspenseful. Don't know. So you'll have to get the book and find out for yourself. If you form an opinion on it, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know.

Received this book from Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

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Review: Lost Solace

Lost Solace Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lost Solace is a good read. It isn't hard science. It has a lot of heart. Opal is a believable character, and the AI is quite fun. There is a great deal of tension and some scary parts. All good and woven well together.

One irritating factor is that we've got a mystery to the reader, but the MC Opal and the MC Clarissa (AI) know the answer. That just doesn't work for me. If the MC knows, then the reader should know. The people after Opal know. Everyone in the story knows what Opal wanted and needed, but the reader is left in the dark about it. That seems more like an underhanded ploy for suspense than good writing.

However, we are taken on a roller coaster ride with lots of action when the "bad" guys show up. Lots of suspense and tension when gravity does what comes natural to it. Plus there is the interaction between Opal and Clarissa that adds some pretty good spice to the stew.

Oh and the language is a bit rough.

Four of Five stars.
Received this book from NetGalley This is my honest review.

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