Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Book Review: 'Lucifer's Harvest' by Mel Starr

✰✰✰½ Prince Edward has requested that Lord Gilbert Talbot provide soldiers for a battle in France. And so it is that Hugh de Singleton, surgeon, reluctantly leaves his growing family in Bampton, not to fight, but to treat the woundedAlong the way Master Hugh has a run-in with his nemesis, Sir Simon Trillowe. Master Hugh vows not to let his guard down. Unfortunately, when Sir Simon ends up the victim of foul play, naturally everyone blames Master Hugh. With the help of his allies, Master Hugh has little time to investigate in order to try to clear his name before the battle begins.

The Bottom Line: The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon is a cozy mystery series that I always look forward to reading. The 9th installment is a page-turner. It's a very quick and enjoyable read. Plus, I always learn something new about medieval life. Those new to the series will find ample backstory included without having to read the books in order. Enthusiastically recommended to fans of medieval mysteries, Christian fiction, and cozies. A glossary of medieval terms and a map are included.

Details: Lucifer's Harvest (The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon) by Mel Starr. Paperback published by Lion Fiction in 2016. 160 p. ISBN: 978-1-78264-188-9 NOTE: I received a free copy from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review. This was made possible via the Early Reviewers Program at LibraryThing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Book Review: 'Secrets In the Snow' by Michaela MacColl

✰✰✰½ Young Jane Austen is busy working on a draft of Elinor and Marianne when a family friend introduces her to a charming young man, Tom Lefroy. Jane is amused and annoyed at the prospect at the same time. Since the Austen family is poor, it is important for the daughters to be married off. However, clever Jane has a habit of turning every single suitor away.

Before she has a chance to get to know Mr. Lefroy, mystery arrives by way of her sophisticated cousin. It seems the War Office is keeping an eye of the vivacious, beautiful widow. With clandestine meetings and a gruesome murder, readers will get plenty of mystery and suspense in this well-researched novel.

The Bottom Line: This delightful imagining of a young Jane Austen is a fun, quick read sprinkled with romance and suspense. Recommended for teens and adults interested in historical fiction and Jane Austen.

Details: Secrets in the Snow: A Novel of Intrigue and Romance by Michaela MacColl. Hardcover published by Chronicle Books in 2016 288 p. ISBN: 978-1-4521-3358-4 NOTE: I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This was made possible via the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Book Review: 'If You'll Be My Valentine' by Cynthia Rylant

✰✰✰✰ sweet little boy takes the time to make Valentines for everyone in the family. He makes cards for his dog and his cat. There's a card for Grandma and each of his siblings. There's even a card for his teddy bear. Each card expresses the little boy's appreciation for that individual, and his story is told with gentleness and simplicity.

The Bottom Line: With rhyming verses and adorable, large scale illustrations, this picture book will be a hit with little ones in Preschool – Grade 2. Enthusiastically recommended for storytime.

Details: If You'll Be My Valentine written by Cynthia Rylant & illustrated by Fumi Kosaka. Hardcover picture book published by HarperCollins Publishers in 2005. 32 p. ISBN: 0-06-009269-6

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Book Review: 'Groundhog's Dilemma' by Kristen Remenar

✰✰✰✰½ What's a groundhog to do? Every time February 2 rolls around, half of Groundhog's friends are disappointed, and the other half are happy. Groundhog doesn't control the weather. He just calls it like he sees it, but his friends don't understand.

Throughout the year his friends bring him presents and bribes hoping to influence Groundhog's next prediction. As the days grow colder, Groundhog still doesn't know what to do. After a long, fitful sleep, Groundhog emerges on his big day. What will he do? Tell the truth or give in to the bribes? Check out this charming holiday book to find out for yourself.

The Bottom Line: Remenar's first picture book is a hit with themes of friendship and honesty. Faulkner's illustrations in watercolor, pencil, and gouache with soft tones are visually engaging for kids in Pre-K – Grade 1. Highly recommended for story time discussions.

Details: Groundhog's Dilemma written by Kristen Remenar & illustrated by Matt Faulkner. Hardcover picture book published by Charlesbridge in 2015. 32 p. ISBN: 978-1-58089-600-9 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Book Review: 'A New Year's Reunion' by Yu Li-Qiong

✰✰✰✰✰ Little Maomao's Papa builds houses in far away places. He only visits his family once a year during Chinese New Year. At first Maomao doesn't recognize him, but as the days go by, Maomao and her Papa spend time together. They make sticky rice balls, hear firecrackers, and watch the dragon dance. Papa also fixes things around the house, and they enjoy time together as a family. All too soon, Papa must return to work, and it will be another year before the little girl can see him again.

The Bottom Line: There is a paucity of children's books featuring Asian characters and holidays. Filled with vibrant illustrations and large text, this tender story is a fantastic introduction to the celebration of the Chinese New Year. While the family featured in this book is fictional, millions of migrant workers in China make this journey annually during the holiday. This is the perfect selection for classroom story time for kids in grades Pre-K - 2.

Details: A New Year's Reunion written by Yu Li-Qiong & illustrated by Zhu Cheng-Liang. Hardcover picture book published by Candlewick Press in 2008. Unpaged. ISBN: 978-0-7636-5881-6

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Book Review: 'Selling the American Muscle Car' by Diego Rosenberg

✰✰✰½ Take a trip back in time to a place where muscle cars ruled the road. These awesome performance cars are still highly coveted today. But back in the day AMC, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, and Studebaker had to come up with creative marketing and advertising schemes to get these cars into people’s driveways. This was an era when the cars all had catchy names and plentiful options. Each manufacturer tried to outdo the others with races, auto shows, TV commercials, and gimmicks. Buckle up and take a fascinating trip down memory lane with this visual treat.

The Bottom Line: Filled with beautiful, glossy photos, this book will be appreciated by muscle car enthusiasts. Marketing and advertising students will also want to check it out. Recommended for libraries too. This was an interesting read, and I enjoyed looking at the both the color and black and white photos.

Details: Selling the American Muscle Car: Marketing Detroit Iron in the 60s and 70s by Diego Rosenberg. Hardcover published by CarTech in 2016. 192 p. ISBN: 978-1-61325-203-1 Note: I received a free copy from CarTech in exchange for an honest review. This was made possible via the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Book Review: 'The Fifth Petal' by Brunonia Barry

✰✰✰ It’s been nearly three decades since the young women known as the Goddesses were brutally murdered on Halloween night in Salem, Massachusetts. The Goddess Murders have remained unsolved all these years until a recent murder ignites interest in the past. The prime suspect, a mentally ill homeless woman named Rose, claims the banshee that resides within her is responsible for all of the murders. 

Callie, a daughter of one of the goddesses, witnessed the horrific murders long ago. For years she was raised by nuns and lived in foster care believing she was all alone in the world. Now that she has learned her "Auntie Rose" is still alive, Callie has returned to Salem. With the help of the town constable and his wife, Callie is looking for answers to her past. Along the way the murders just might finally be solved, and Callie finds a place to call home.

The Bottom Line: This complex, literary mystery will appeal to readers interested in books with witchcraft and time bending themes. This multi-layered mystery requires lots of concentration to read. It was a little slow in the beginning, but the setting kept my attention.

Details: The Fifth Petal: A Novel by Brunonia Barry. Published by Crown in 2017. 448 p. ISBN: 978-1-101-90560-9 NOTE: I received a free ARC from Crown in exchange for an honest review. This was made possible via the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing.