Blog Tour and Book Review: “A Crafty Christmas” by Mollie Cox Bryan (Cumberland Creek Mystery #4)

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Title:  A Crafty Christmas

Author:  Mollie Cox Bryan

Series:  Cumberland Creek Mystery #4

Synopsis (from amazon.com):  Christmas is just around the corner, and the ladies of the Cumberland Creek Scrapbook Crop are thrilled when Sheila wins the first place prize in a scrapbooking design contest: a ten-day scrapbook-themed cruise in the Caribbean. Vera and Paige decide to tag along, which should pose the perfect opportunity to learn some new techniques, mingle with fellow croppers, and get in some rest and relaxation before the chaos of Christmas. But when Sheila finds a famous crafter dead, and investigators determine she was poisoned, the luxury cruise veers toward disaster as Sheila becomes the number one suspect – or was she really the intended victim? Just as the croppers begin un-wrapping the truth, a storm strands them at sea, and they’ll find it’s harder than ever to survive the holidays with a killer on deck…

 

My thoughts:  My second visit to the wonderful ladies of Cumberland Creek, and I’m glad I got the chance to go back.  I was lucky enough to get the chance to be on the blog tour and provide a review for #3 in this series, “Death of an Irish Diva” so jumped on the chance to be a part of this tour as well.  Thank you and yay!

I will be honest, this book started out a bit slow for me . . . but I believe part of it was because it had been a while since I had been into this series and needed to take some time to reacquaint myself with each of the characters.  It took me a few chapters to get into the whole realization that some of the characters were on the scrapping cruise, while others (Annie, Bea) were back home just doing their things (this really should have been an easy concept, maybe I am just tired lately :)

After I was reacquainted and fully back in Cumberland Creek, I truly enjoyed this book.  The characters continue to be their wonderful, unique, quirky selves.  The location of a scrapbooking cruise was great I thought – I mean who wouldn’t dream of this experience.  As someone who has never been on such an experience, I personally and selfishly wish the author would have spend a bit more time describing the specifics of the cruise, the crops, and let’s face it all the scrapbooking stuff that we love to read these cozies for!   I know the point of the book is to tell the story not outline a scrapbooking cruise . . . but I want to live vicariously through  my books :)

For a cozy mystery, I appreciate how the author really did a good job of having the characters experience seemingly realistic feelings and emotions to some pretty scary, traumatic events they encountered rather than simply blowing it off and being cheesy about it.

The last paragraph of the book provides a great, intriguing twist which of course will keep me on the lookout for book #5!  I’m ready, bring it on!!!

Overall, a great book in a great cozy mystery series.  If you are a scrapbooker or a cardmaker (like myself) you will not be disappointed.

Thanks for including me on this blog tour.

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

 

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Book Review: “Bones of the Lost” by Kathy Reichs (Temperance Brennan #16)

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Title:  Bones of the Lost

Author:  Kathy Reichs

Series:  Temperance Brennan #16

Synopsis (from bn.com):

When Charlotte police discover the body of a teenage girl along a desolate stretch of two-lane highway, Temperance Brennan fears the worst. The girl’s body shows signs of foul play. Inside her purse police find the ID card of a prominent local businessman, John-Henry Story, who died in a horrific flea market fire months earlier. Was the girl an illegal immigrant turning tricks? Was she murdered?

The medical examiner has also asked Tempe to examine a bundle of Peruvian dog mummies confiscated by U.S. Customs. A Desert Storm veteran named Dominick Rockett stands accused of smuggling the objects into the country. Could there be some connection between the trafficking of antiquitiesand the trafficking of humans?

As the case deepens, Tempe must also grapple with personal turmoil. Her daughter Katy, grieving the death of her boyfriend in Afghanistan, impulsively enlists in the Army. As pressure mounts from all corners, Tempe soon finds herself at the center of a conspiracy that extends all the way from South America, to Afghanistan, and right to the center of Charlotte. “A genius at building suspense” (Daily News, New York), Kathy Reichs is at her brilliant best in this thrilling novel.

 

My thoughts:  Although this #16 book in this great series was better than the last, it still wasn’t my favorite.  I don’t know if the series and the author’s writing style and character are changing or if I’m just changing as a reader, but the last few in the series have just been ok for me.

This latest installment almost appeared to be two completely different plot lines to me.  Yes, it all finally came together at the end of course, but it left me confused for a bit and shaking my head where we were going.  I slogged through the first part . . .  then all of a sudden Temperance was on a plane on her way to a military base in Afghanistan to provide some consultation work on a case there and I absolutely flew through this middle part as the plot just picked up and the story was fascinating . . . and then she returned home to tie the story together in a third part which was so so at best.

This book had some ups and downs for me . . . boring first part, great second part, so so third part.

I just wish the two almost disparate story lines would have been tied together a bit more throughout the entire book leaving the reader with more satisfaction throughout the whole novel!

There were a couple interesting small plot developments presented at the end about some of the characters which leaves me intrigued where the next book will go . . . hmmmm.

Well #17 in this series just came out, and of course I will be getting it and trying it out.  One can’t leave a series unfinished . . . let’s not be ridiculous . . . :)

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

 

 

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Book Review: “Bones are Forever” by Kathy Reichs (Temperance Brennan #15)

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Title:  Books Are Forever

Author:  Kathy Reichs

Series:  Temperance Brennan #15

Synopsis (from bn.com):

A woman calling herself Amy Roberts checks into a Montreal hospital complaining of uncontrolled bleeding. Doctors see evidence of a recent birth, but before they can act, Roberts disappears. Dispatched to the address she gave at the hospital, police discover bloody towels outside in a dumpster. Fearing the worst, they call Temperance Brennan to investigate.

In a run-down apartment Tempe makes a ghastly discovery: the decomposing bodies of three infants. According to the landlord, a woman named Alma Rogers lives there. Then a man shows up looking for Alva Rodriguez. Are Amy Roberts, Alma Rogers, and Alva Rodriguez the same person? Did she kill her own babies? And where is she now?

Heading up the investigation is Tempe’s old flame, homicide detective Andrew Ryan. His counterpart from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is sergeant Ollie Hasty, who happens to have a little history with Tempe himself, which she regrets. This unlikely trio follows the woman’s trail, first to Edmonton and then to Yellowknife, a remote diamond-mining city deep in the Northwest Territories. What they find in Yellowknife is more sinister than they ever could have imagined…

 

My summary:  It has been a while since I have read this series so I decided it was time to catch up with the last two books I had to read before the new release a couple weeks ago.  I have always been a huge fan of this series, but I have to say this installment in the series was just ok for me.   It just didn’t feel as intriguing, as grabbing, and frankly as good as the other ones I have read.  I certainly enjoy all of the forensic anthropology and scientific knowledge she brings to the series and to this book.  The who storyline and plot just felt a little draggy to me on this one.

It is one of those books that I certainly didn’t hate, but I didn’t love either which is uncommon for this series.

I do not watch the TV series, Bones, that is based on this series and never have because the main female lead on the series just seems so off base to me based on the book character.  I just never could get passed it.

Well on to #16 to see what happens with that one.

And remember

Books Are Life

Heather

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Book Review: “Embellished to Death” by Christina Freeburn (Faith Hunter Scrap This #3)

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Title:  Embellished to Death

Author:  Christina Freeburn

Series:  Faith Hunter Scrap This #3

Synopsis (from bn.com):

When Faith Hunter agrees to help PI Bob Roget find an identity thief at a local scrapbook retreat, her friendly croppers’ weekend quickly morphs into a dangerous one. As croppers share their own memories, a killer collects them for her new identity, and doesn’t appreciate Faith in the picture.

Faith struggles to balance her professional, detecting and personal lives as threats and secrets keep her off-balance. Things turn deadly when a woman is killed and Faith is blackmailed. Truth and lies collide when Faith discovers croppers aren’t the only ones embellishing, and the results might end her life.

 

My thoughts:  I was very lucky to get to read the first 2 books in this great cozy mystery series:  Cropped to Death and Designed to Death so was no doubt very happy to be included in the blog tour to get the chance to read the latest addition, Embellished to Death!!

The first thing to love about this series is of course the theme, namely scrapbooking!  I am not necessarily a scrapbooker but I am an avid cardmaker and so love just reading about all the equipment and processes, it is like being in my craft studio having fun!

The second thing to love about this series is the wonderful characters.  Faith and her crew are just fun, wonderful characters!

Overall this is just a great cozy mystery series.  Do yourself a favor and start reading it if you haven’t!  If you like crafting, scrapbooking, cardmaking, reading, great characters, and cozy mysteries . . . I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed!!

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

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Book Review: “How Starbucks Saved My Life” by Michael Gates Gill

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Title:  How Starbucks Saved My Life

Author:  Michael Gates Gill

Synopsis (from bn.com):

In his fifties, Michael Gates Gill had it all: a mansion in the suburbs, a wife and loving children, a six-figure salary, and an Ivy League education. But in a few short years, he lost his job, got divorced, and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. With no money or health insurance, he was forced to get a job at Starbucks. Having gone from power lunches to scrubbing toilets, from being served to serving, Michael was a true fish out of water.

But fate brings an unexpected teacher into his life who opens his eyes to what living well really looks like. The two seem to have nothing in common: She is a young African American, the daughter of a drug addict; he is used to being the boss but reports to her now. For the first time in his life he experiences being a member of a minority trying hard to survive in a challenging new job. He learns the value of hard work and humility, as well as what it truly means to respect another person.

Behind the scenes at one of America’s most intriguing businesses, an inspiring friendship is born, a family begins to heal, and, thanks to his unlikely mentor, Michael Gill at last experiences a sense of self-worth and happiness he has never known before.

 

My thoughts:  I just love how book suggestions come about in life.  I frankly would have never known about this wonderful little book had a friend not suggested it to me after one of my Facebook posts that went something like this: “You know the thought of being a full time Starbucks barista is looking better and better by the day.”  And hence my journey with the wonderful, inspirational story began.

The premise is simple, a high-tech advertising executive with plenty of money, all the right friends, the beautiful home, the perfect family finds his true happiness after losing it all and becoming a barista at Starbucks.  An absolutely wonderful riches to rags story that serves as an inspiration to all of us who strive to live the “perfect” life.

I truly enjoyed the authors style of mixing in the details of his “past” life with his current life at Starbucks and in doing so not focusing too much on the past life.  If he had focused too much on that “past” life inclusive of, let’s face it a lot of name dropping (having met Ernest Hemingway, Jackie Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, and the list goes on), it would have seemed that the author was ultimately quite cocky and hadn’t really learned from his new experience.

I also really enjoyed the simplicity of the book.  It is a super fast read (I finished it in 2 days) that merely shares one man’s journey from rich and successful to poor but extremely happy.

I highly recommend this book to anyone.  It is full of wonderful kernels of truth if you will that inspire, motivate, and set priorities straight.

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

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Book Review: “Spider Bones” by Kathy Reichs (Temperance Brennan #13)

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Title:  Kathy Reichs

Author:  Kathy Reichs

Series:  Temperance Brennan #13

Synopsis (from bn.com):

One man, two deaths—four decades apart. This story can’t stay buried forever.

Shocking discovers await Tempe at the scene of a Quebec drowning: the victim—identified as one John Lowery—was engaged in a bizarre sexual practice when he died; the same John Lowery was an American soldier declared dead in 1968, after a Huey crash in Vietnam. Who then, Tempe sets off to find out, is buried in the vet’s North Carolina grave? Exhuming the remains and having them analyzed at a military compound in Hawaii gets complicated when Tempe’s ex, Detective Andrew Ryan, appears, and a Honolulu ME consults with her on a lethal shark attack—or is it a more sinister predator? Then Lowery’s dog tags turn up linked to yet another corpse, and Tempe must deconstruct a deadly deception that spans years, continents, and too many tragic losses.

 

My thoughts:  I have been following this series for years and forgot how much I love it until I got back into it with of course the goal to catch up on the series before the next one comes out in the next couple of months :)

This is a great mystery series with a wonderful mix of excitement, great plots, great characters, science, humor, and everything else.  And I must admit, I particularly liked the setting in this book, namely Hawaii!  Hawaii happens to be one of my favorite places on the planet and it was just kind of neat to recognize some of the places that they were talking about and feeling like I was there.

This was an incredibly fast read.  I highly recommend this book and this series to anyone who loves a wonderful mystery series!

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

 

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Book Review: “Bel Canto” by Ann Patchett

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Title:  Bel Canto

Author:  Ann Patchett

Synopsis (from bn.com):  Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxanne Coss, opera’s most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening — until a band of gunwielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different continents become compatriots, intimate friends, and lovers.

 

My thoughts:  I know I am a little late to this party since apparently the rest of the world read and loved this book when it came out in 2001.   From reviews I have read about the book, I am getting the picture that people either loved or hated this book.  I usually can come up with some redeeming value in most books I read, but I have to fall on the side of strongly disliking this book for any number of reasons.  And I for the life of me can’t figure out how this book won extreme accolades and numerous awards.  How is this even possible?

 

First of all, I just couldn’t seem to get passed how completely unrealistic the entire overall theme of the book was.  A group of terrorists come in and take over a large birthday party of diplomats and other important people holding them all hostage.  Sounds like an exciting and plausible plot, until you realize that they are held captive for months and months and seem to be living just normally in this house.  What???  The book describes in painful detail how the terrorists are often off sleeping or doing other things, and you are telling me that out of the 59 hostages that are left, they wouldn’t even once try to plot to overthrow the terrorists.  Hmmmm.  Perhaps she was trying to portray the realities of Stockholm syndrome, but it missed the mark for me.  I know it’s fiction, but I just couldn’t get past the ridiculousness of it.

Secondly, I found almost all of the characters portrayed ultimately unlikeable.  Even through the description of their daily activities in “captivity” (and I use this in quotes, because it certainly didn’t feel like they were in captivity), I wasn’t emotionally invested in any of the characters.  In fact, I could argue that there were many characters, including the famous opera singer, Roxane Coss that were just annoying, needlessly overdramatized, and unlikeable.

Thirdly, to me at least, the book seemed to go almost no where.  It was simply an account of these 59 hostages living out their daily lives in this house.  It was boring, dragged along, and frankly was just plain tedious with the author’s overdetailed passages about completely meaningless things.  Yes, I believe I know the themes the author was trying to go for in this novel, perhaps the power of music to bring people together in a time of tragedy. . . missed the mark.  Perhaps, that love transcends all differences and obstacles . . . missed the mark.

Lastly, but certainly not least of course was the ending.  In short, the ending was abrupt and just plain ridiculous.  And don’t get me started on the epilogue . . . if I thought the ending was ridiculous, the epilogue felt like it came completely from outer space.  What??

I picked up Bel Canto to give Ann Patchett another try after my book club State of Wonder and I just couldn’t get on board with it.  I think I may have to be done with this author, because it is clear we are just not on the same page.

Overall, Bel Canto missed the mark for me in so many different areas.

Kudos to the thousands and thousands of readers who absolutely loved this book.  I just don’t see it.

And remember,

Books are life,

Heather

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