Sunday, January 24, 2016

Miles Left Yet by Holly Schindler

Jim, Norma and Mildred are all residents in a retirement community. All of them have led different lives before arriving at this stage of their lives and each of them have miles left yet.

Jim is full of mischief and making the best of his life in the retirement community. When Norma moves in Jim makes it his mission to bring her out of her shell. Determined to live life to the fullest Jim throws himself into the task of capturing Norma's affections.

Norma has recently sold her home in order to bail her daughter out of debt. Struggling to find herself and her place in this life she has no desire to even leave her apartment at the retirement community she has moved into. At first she resents Jim and his attempts to get to know her, but soon they become inseparable.

Mildred is a retired school teacher/spinster who shows up at the retirement community and immediately gives the wrong impression. The one regret in her life that has defined who she has become is about to catch up with her.

Setting out on an adventure to right some wrongs, make some mischief, have some fun, and find some romance proves to a couple of young people that just because people get old doesn't mean that their lives are over.

One of the things I have found about Holly Schindler's books is that they are hard to put down once you start reading them! Miles Left Yet kept me turning the pages, laughing and crying along the journey. Being in the retirement stage of my life made the reading much more poignant. While I couldn't relate with the loss that the characters experienced I could relate with the feelings of irrelevancy, of being set aside by the younger generation but yet feeling also that there are so many things left to do, say and experience. That feeling that I still have...Miles Left Yet!

**Warning** I always put a warning on any book I read that contains curse words or sexual scenes or references because my blog mostly represents Christian literature. Miles Left Yet does contain cursing including the "f" word(2x). The author does not use cursing throughout the read, in other words it is not overly full of profanity, but it is present. If cursing offends you then this probably would not be the book for you.

News:  The author is continuing on with new characters set in a town mentioned in Miles Left Yet in monthly installments of stand-alone short stories throughout 2016 beginning with Come December which I reviewed HERE.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Come December by Holly Schindler

What a sweet short story about a girl who feels invisible to the world around her but then finds purpose and meaning in her life through the kindness of a stranger.

Short stories usually leave me unsatisfied because I want to read "more" of the characters. While I wouldn't have minded COME DECEMBER being a longer story I thought the author quite satisfactorily told the story without leaving me hanging or unsatisfied about where the characters were heading in the end.

COME DECEMBER left me with a smile on my face and a happy feeling in my heart.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

52 Steps To Murder by Steve Demaree

Cy Dekker and his partner Lou are called to a murder scene. Cy and Lou are not in the best shape for this murder scene. From the street where they park their car to the house that the murdered victim is in there are 52 steps for them to climb. Being large, out of shape men you can imagine the difficulty they have hefting themselves up to the house. They don't do it just once either! They have to embark on these steps several times during their investigation. The antics they go through to try and get out of climbing those steps are pretty entertaining!

I have mixed thoughts on this book. The antics of Cy and Lou are pretty entertaining, the mystery was pretty good, but I found the writing a bit juvenile, and at times repetitive. While reading I found myself chuckling at some of Cy's observations or snide comments, especially to his irritating neighbor, but then at other times I found that same humor overdone. At one point Cy comes up with an idea of how to get to their car quicker than walking down the steps that reminded me of the antics of the Keystone Cops. That episode of course is not the only tumble that Cy and Lou take while trying to find out who their murderer is.

The antics of Cy and Lou aside, I did think that the mystery was pretty solid, and I liked how Cy reasoned out "who done it." I plan on reading the second book in the series and see if Cy and Lou's characters can grow on me.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Little Women Read-Along


Join us for a Little Women Read-Along in February. Get the details and sign up on Jenni Elyse's blog HERE

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

Jerusha Abbott is an orphan that was raised in the John Grier Home. The home has allowed her to stay one year past the normal time that orphans can stay but she works hard for her keep. Jerusha is surprised and excited when one of the Trustee's of the home decides to send her to college. Two things he asks in return; that he remain anonymous, and that Jerusha will write to him of her progress.

The rest of the book is Jerusha's letters to her benefactor whom she has dubbed "Daddy-Long-Legs" because of the long shadow she saw of him the day he offered to pay for her college. Jerusha starts her freshman year of college full of excitement and trepidation, as the years go on we see her mature into a very intelligent, fun-loving, independent young woman.

The entire time I was reading this I had flashbacks to reading this book:

My Review

I thoroughly enjoyed both books! There is just something about a mystery benefactor setting out to make a poor orphan girl have a better life and ultimately develop a romance between the two. Ooops, that may be a bit spoiler-ish, but I think both books have their own unique characters that make them different enough to warrant reading both. I first heard about Daddy-Long-Legs in a Mother Daughter Book Club(by Heather Vogel Frederick) story and have wanted to read it ever since. Then I saw it on Amber Stokes' blog Seasons of Humility for a Top Ten post and decided I must read it NOW. Again, I was not disappointed. I enjoyed reading how Jerusha matured as time went on, and I enjoyed her letters to her benefactor, she shared everything both good and bad with him. She even shared her frustration with him being anonymous and never writing her or responding to her. A sweet story that I was totally satisfied I finally got around to reading.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay

Elizabeth is a top chef in her own restaurant in New York, but she has lost her zing. Feast has been her life for years, but now the man who financed her restaurant has brought in another chef to hopefully help Elizabeth get that zing back.

Disheartened by the need for another chef and being encouraged to go "home" to visit her sister battling breast cancer, Elizabeth embarks on a quest to find her zing and repair relationships with those she left behind.

Elizabeth left home soon after her mother died from cancer. She is not prepared to deal with all of the emotions that this trip home brings her, not to mention the friction that still stands between the sisters.

Jane doesn't make it easy for Lizzy, but Lizzy makes it her mission to try and find the right foods that will give her sister the desire to eat. Slowly the sisters work through old resentments and hurts, but Lizzy has built such a wall around her emotions, will there be any way that this relationship can be healed?

Lizzy & Jane brought such a roller-coaster of emotions to me. One minute I would be laughing at some antic or other and then in the next moment I would be crying along with the characters as they dealt with the reality of cancer, their past and Lizzy's journey of self-discovery. Just when I would think okay, things are going to start getting better old resentments would cause another rift between the sisters. I have to say that that kind of frustrated me until I really thought about it. Old hurts just don't go away because apologies were made. It took years for Lizzy to build her walls, of course it is going to take a while for those walls to crumble. The story was also a little difficult to read because Jane is battling breast cancer. At the moment I have a friend in the same battle. Trips to the infusion center are a weekly trip for me. It is hard to see so many people battling this awful disease called cancer. While helping Jane to find the right types of foods to tempt her to eat Lizzy manages to find her zing once again. I loved how the author could make the reader "see" the excitement on Lizzy's face as she prepared foods for people. There was also a bit of romance in the story. Nick is a single dad who manages to be an anchor for Lizzy while she tries to put her life back together. He definitely makes it hard for her to go back to New York. I loved all of the food talk! Mixing spices and finding foods that match personalities, who knew that food was such an art or really a science? I was entertained, and my heart was warmed while reading Lizzy & Jane.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Borden Murders Lizzie Borden & The Trial Of The Century by Sarah Miller

What a way to start off the new year of reading! A non-fiction story of a murder.  Years ago I saw the movie of Lizzie Borden portrayed by Elizabeth Montgomery(from the show Bewitched), and it portrayed Lizzie as guilty. I didn't realize what a mess the whole investigation was! In this book the author separates facts from fiction and legend. I found the whole story very interesting. I think that I, like most people, assumed that Lizzie Borden got away with murder, after all, if you are anyone around my age or older you grew up hearing the old rhyme:

Lizzie Borden took an axe,
Gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one. 

The author of The Borden Murders presents what evidence, and transcripts from the trial are still available. While I think the idea was to present unbiased information and to debunk myth and legends surrounding Lizzie's life, I did get the impression that the author probably believes that Lizzie was innocent of the murders of her parents. Nobody will ever know the truth of what happened that day in 1892, if Lizzie was guilty she took that secret with her to her grave.

This book is marketed as a middle-grade book. I'm not sure I agree with that. Maybe I am selling the middle graders short, but I don't see that age group being interested in something that happened in the 1800's let alone being interested in reading about the trial. I on the other hand found it a very interesting read and was totally engrossed while reading.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Plainly Murder by Isabella Alan aka Amanda Flower

In this novella we are introduced to Angie and her aunt Eleanor. Angie used to come to the Amish community that her aunt lives in years before when she was a child. Now Angie is grown up and engaged to be married. Aunt Eleanor is ill and Angie has come to see her. When Eleanor's quilting group gather together talk turns to the recent death of one of their friends. Evelyn has commissioned Eleanor to deliver a quilt to another woman and to find out what happened to Evelyn's son many years before. Evelyn's son fell off the roof of a barn during a barn raising. Evelyn always said that it was murder, but there was never any investigation since bringing in the police is not the Amish way. Volunteering to deliver the quilt for her aunt, Angie makes it her mission to find out exactly what happened all of those years before.

Now THIS is the book I should have started reading the series at! It introduces all of the main characters of the Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries. Angie has a curiosity streak, not to mention a stubborness, that makes her the perfect person to solve all of the crimes that she becomes involved in once she moves to Holmes County. I thought this was a perfect introduction to the characters and if I hadn't already read all of the other books in the series I would definitely be grabbing them up. I think Oliver's character really shone in this novella! He was too cute, and I could totally picture him in his little sweaters and red boots!

As always Isabella Alan(aka Amanda Flower) inserts humor into her writing and I always look forward to seeing what her next character will do.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Thin Ice by Irene Hannon

Two months after Christy's sister dies in a house fire Christy gets a letter from someone claiming to have kidnapped her. Christy is told not to go to the authorities but where else is she supposed to turn at this point?

Christy calls the FBI and is transferred to Lance McGregor. Lance has just started with the FBI and is happy to have his own case. He meets Christy to hear her story and finds it legitimate enough to agree to help her.

Knowing that her every move is being monitored by the kidnapper and that her sister's life is in jeopardy Christy waits for the kidnapper to contact her again. Obviously the kidnapper is not after money, so what is his motive and why Christy and her sister?

Lance and Christy have an immediate attraction for each other but know that they cannot act on those feelings until after the case is solved. As the case starts to unravel and the kidnapper is set to make his final move will Lance be too late to help Christy?

This is the second book in the Men of Valor series. I really liked it. I like how the author lets us see into the kidnapper's thoughts and life without giving away who he is in Christy's life. It kept me guessing and added to the suspense of the whole story. The ending was wrapped up well and had me staying up way too late so that I could finish it. There is also a teaser chapter for the next book in the series which involves the last McGregor brother Finn. I was totally hooked and disappointed that I was left hanging as I just wanted to continue on! Once again, if you are a fan of romantic suspense then I highly recommend Irene Hannon's Men of Valor series, you won't be disappointed!

Check out my review of the first book in the series:

Buried Secrets