Thursday, May 29, 2014

Karen Barnett's Out of the Ruins ~ Reviewed

Karen Barnett
Binding Softcover
Release Date Mar 1, 2014
Publisher Abingdon Press
Series Golden Gate Chronicles
Series Number 1
ISBN 1426780575

OverviewWhile her sister lies on her deathbed, Abby Fischer prays for a miracle. What Abby doesn't expect, however, is for God's answer to come in the form of the handsome Dr. Robert King, whose experimental treatment is risky at best. As they work together toward a cure, Abby's feelings for Robert become hopelessly entangled. Separated by the tragedy of the mighty San Francisco earthquake, their relationship suddenly takes a back seat to survival. With fires raging throughout the city, Abby fears for her life as she flees alone through burning streets. Where is God now? Will Robert find Abby, even as the world burns around them? Or has their love fallen with the ruins of the city?


Out of the Ruins revolves around Abby Fischer.  Life has been fine on her family’s orchard until her beloved sister Cecilia, is diagnosed with cancer.  Abby is determined she will beat it.  While Cecilia is trusting God for the outcome, Abby refuses, trusting rather in her ability to care for her, along with her cousin, Dr. Gerald Larkspur and his handsome partner, Dr. Robert King.  They have discovered new research regarding radiation as treatment for cancer.  The family temporarily moves to San Francisco for Cecilia’s treatments.  As the treatments progress, so do feelings between Abby and Robert.  However, when another tragedy strikes, the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, Abby has no idea which way to turn.  She has spent so long relying on herself and denying God that she doesn’t know how to live any other way.  In the midst of the earthquake, she finds herself separated from her family and Robert, forcing her to deal with the fact that she is no self-sufficient, and just maybe, God has been waiting there for her all along.
I really liked this book a lot.  Abby’s character grew so much by the end of the book.  She spent so much time fighting God through so much of it, not understanding Cecilia’s childlike trust and faith in the Lord, making it look so easy to leave her life in His hands.  And Robert and Abby’s love story was fun to watch unfold as well.  Abby thought herself the plain one next to her sister, so it was fun to see her blossom under Robert’s attention and compliments. 

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Kyle Idleman's Not a Fan ~ Reviewed

Not a Fan
Kyle Idleman
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Zondervan; 5.2.2011 edition (June 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0310331933


Are you a follower of Jesus? Don’t answer too quickly. In fact, you may want to read this book before you answer at all. Consider it a “Define the Relationship” conversation to determine exactly where you stand. You may indeed be a passionate, fully devoted follower of Jesus. Or, you may be just a fan who admires Jesus but isn’t ready to let him cramp your style. Then again, maybe you’re not into Jesus, period. In any case, don’t take the question—Are you a follower of Jesus?—lightly. Some people don’t know what they’ve said yes to and other people don’t realize what they’ve said no to, says Pastor Kyle Idleman. But Jesus is ready to clearly define the relationship he wants with his followers. Not a Fan calls you to consider the demands and rewards of being a true disciple. With frankness sprinkled with humor, Idleman invites you to live the way Jesus lived, love the way he loved, pray the way he prayed, and never give up living for the One who gave his all for you.


A great title for one of the most convicting books I've ever read on the "art" of Christian living. This topical book covers many aspects of the American Christian's walk. Because in reality American Christianity isn't exactly lining up with the early church. (Not the clothing/food/lack of travel but the belief, the commitment, the Christlikeness.)

Kyle Idleman handles this sticky wicket subject with self-deprecating humor and uncomfortably squirm-producing honesty. The fan vs follower outline sheds light on areas where we may think we are uber committed and rockin this Christianity thing but in reality we leave our guts and His glory out of the equation. Fans dress the part, they scream until they blow out their vocal chords, they will dress like a mascot and wear odd hats, but when it's all said and done, they don't leave their DNA on the field. Followers. Well... Idleman clearly points out the difference. Kind of like a joke I heard once, what's the difference between a cheese omelette and bacon? Commitment. 

You might not agree with all of Idleman's theology. But this is the kind of slap upside the head that every Christian should read. The reality is, the world has a laundry list of hypocriticism, sins and ugliness perpetuated by the "church," don't we who think we are Christ followers be willing to make sure we really are followers? 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cynthia Ruchti's All My Belongings ~ Reviewed

All My Belongings [Paperback]
By Cynthia Ruchti (Author)
Pages 320
Binding Softcover
Release Date May 6, 2014
Publisher Abingdon Press
ISBN 1426749724

Jayne Dennagee has spent her life running from the doctor death legacy of her father. His Kervorkian-copycat methods of euthanasia ruined her childhood, covering it in shame. She won t let him steal her future, too. After changing her name to Becka, she assumes a new life and new job caring for the ailing mother of a handsome young businessman, Isaac Hughes.

Becka struggles to sort out her feelings for her new boss just as her patient passes away under unusual circumstances. Suddenly, her past catches up with her and the unnerving details of her heritage make Becka look like a murder suspect. Worse, all sense of home and all hope for love vanish.

Even if she could clear her name, a phone call from prison wraps a suffocating shroud around her heart. Her father is out and he needs her help. Can Becka open her new life to the man who has prematurely taken so many? Or will her father s legacy make it impossible to open her heart at all?

Review Blurb:

All My Belongings is another Ruchti home run! Becca's emotions are so spot-on. The hope revealed and the restoration of faith will have you reaching for a tissue. That's what I love about Cynthia Ruchti's books. She always makes me chuckle and cry. You can't get any better than that!

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan 
President, Novel Rocket

Bonus Review: 

All My Belongings is about a young woman named Jayne. After growing up with parents who seemed to forget about her while trying to fight her mother's horrible illness, she struggles to find her purpose. When her mother tragically dies at her father's hand, she feels she must report him, but can't face the consequences for doing what she thought was the right thing. After losing her mother and seeing her father put in prison, she decides to change her name to Becca. At the urging of a close friend, she moves to California to care for her friend's ailing sister, Aurelia. Upon arriving, she meets Aurelia's handsome son, Isaac Hughes. Becca moves in with Aurelia, and comes to care for both her and Isaac a great deal, however, the lies that keep building up as she tries to hide her past and create a new one bother her more with each passing day. As Becca and Isaac's relationship progresses, Aurelia suddenly passes away under unusual circumstances, and Becca finds that the past she has been trying to hide begins to catch up with her.
This was a great book. I was especially drawn to it because the elderly woman Becca cared for, Aurelia, had Alzheimer’s. My Grandma also has Alzheimer's, so I was able to relate to the story pretty well. Becca's care for her was just wonderful, and my heart went out for her when she became a suspect in her passing. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mary Ellis's A Little Bit of Charm ~ Reviewed

Little Bit Of Charm (New Beginnings V3) 
By Mary Ellis (Author)
Pages 343 
Binding Softcover
Release Date Sep 1, 2013
Publisher Harvest House Publishers
Series New Beginnings
Series Number 3
ISBN 0736938680

A Little Bit of Charm, the third book in bestselling author Mary Ellis's New Beginnings series, is about fresh starts...and how faith in God and His perfect plans provide the peace and joy all long for.
After the death of her parents and then watching both of her older sisters find happiness in homes of their own with husbands who adore them, Rachel King yearns for a new beginning. Her cousin Sarah lives near a thoroughbred stable in Kentucky, and working around beautiful horses is Rachel's dream come true. She leaves Lancaster County to find a job at Twelve Elms Stables and believes God has answered her prayers.
And then she meets Jake, an attractive and charming Englisch man. At first she refuses to go out with him, but he eventually convinces her to give him a chance. When Amish men who also wish to date Rachel start encountering strange mishaps, she wonders if Jake is really who he seems to be.
What does a young woman do when her heart is pulled in two directions?

A Little Bit of Charm is about a young Amish woman named Rachel.  After her two older sisters marry and build new lives far from the home they grew up on, Sarah takes a chance and moves to Kentucky with her now Mennonite cousins, Sarah and Isaac, to live with them on their chicken farm, and to hopefully find a job somewhere working with horses.  Fortunately, Twelve Elms stables is just down the road, and they are looking for extra hired help with tours and horse training.  It’s the perfect job for Rachel, though her cousin feels she is compromising her faith by dressing as an Englischer while working.  In the meantime, she meets the owners’ son, Jake, who is focused on doing whatever it takes to take a young cold to the Kentucky Derby, even if it means putting the family into a debt that could be devastating.  Not surprisingly, Jake and Rachel develop an attraction for each other, but they each have their own personal battles to fight.  Rachel is struggling as she has feelings for Jake, but knows she would have to leave her Amish lifestyle to be with him. Jake is taking it personally that Rachel is distancing herself, but overlooking his own selfishness and distrust in God.      
This was a really fun story, and I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen there for a while. Rachel was so devoted to her faith and steadfast in the fact that she wouldn’t “jump the fence.”  Yet I know Jake wouldn’t become Amish.  I also found myself surprised that all Rachel ever saw in Jake was his kind, compassionate side.  He was, at that, however, his total distrust in God and need to be in control all of the time must not have been something he showed when Rachel was around, because she didn’t pick up on it at all.  I found that interesting.  It was a good story, though!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sandra Bricker's Rise and Shine ~ Reviewed

Rise and Shine: A Contemporary Fairy Tale [Paperback]
By Sandra D. Bricker (Author)
Pages 256
Binding Softcover
Release Date May 1, 2014
Edition New
ISBN 0802406300


Shannon Malone thought she'd found her happy ending when she married Edmund Ridgeway, but a diving accident on their honeymoon left her in a coma. Waking up to the news that she's thirty years old would have been daunting enough . . . but she also learns that Edmund has lost his interim battle with cancer and the world has marched on without her. Her gorgeous doctor, Daniel Petros, seems to know everything about her and becomes Shannon's tour guide into a whole new world of madness where reality television has taken over the planet and everyone's life appears to revolve around a tiny screen on their cell phones

As Shannon struggles to navigate through the changes-both in the world "and" in her-she also must discern real memories from imagined ones. Did she really ever wear capris pants and entertain in her living room, or was that Laura Petrie from her favorite classic TV show? And where is her beloved dog, Freeway? Oh, wait That was Jonathan and Jennifer Hart's dog, not hers.

Shannon's three elderly aunts flit through her life in true "Sleeping Beauty" style with her well-being always a priority. And Edmund's sister Millicent descends like the Evil Queen she is, trying to extract Shannon from any claim on the Ridgeway family fortune. When a tornado moves through town and Shannon is knocked unconscious, will Daniel's kiss awaken her once and for all?


Sandra D Bricker has hit a home run in Rise and Shine! She portrays Shannon so well as a coma patient, who wakes up after 10 years. Bricker has turned a fairy tale into the believable. I completely suspended any disbelief and have loved every minute. I was totally invested in the characters. A delightful story written by the Queen of Romantic Comedy! Novel Rocket and I give it our highest recommendation. Rise and Shine is a 5-star read and going on my Top Ten for 2014 list.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan

Bonus Review:

Rise and Shine is a charming beach read. A modern day fairy tale is interspersed into each section of the story as the story of Shannon unfolds. And what a story it is. Shannon's story starts with a honeymoon and ends over ten years later when she awakens from a coma. 

As heavy as the subject matter could be, Bricker deftly adds plenty of humor. Shannon is a fan of the Dick Van Dyke show and the characters factor into the story several times. A furry four-legged friend and a wicked witch of the hill add more sweet and spice. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Christine Lindsay's Londonderry Dreaming ~ Reviewed

By Christine Lindsay
Published by White Rose Publishing/Pelican Book Group

ABOUT BOOK: Acclaimed New York artist, Naomi Boyd, and music therapist, Keith Wilson, loved one another five years ago, until her grandfather with his influence over Naomi separated them.
That root of bitterness keeps them apart until a letter from Keith’s grandmother, Ruth, draws Naomi to Londonderry to find she’s too late. Ruth has passed on. After the death of his beloved grandmother, Keith has also come to Londonderry only to open the door to his past…Naomi...beautiful as ever, the girl who broke his heart.

A mysterious painting in Ruth’s attic brings up questions about their grandparents’ entwined past and their own broken romance. But more comfortable with the unspoken languages of art and music, Naomi and Keith find it difficult to share their old hurts and true feelings.

Will the majestic coastline of Northern Ireland inspire them to speak the words to bring peace to their grandparents’ memory and to rekindle love?

REVIEW: I enjoyed Christine Lindsay’s debut novel so much I was elated to receive a review copy of her latest novella sized book titled Londonderry Dreaming.

I instantly connected with Keith who flew to from American to attend his grandmother’s funeral and clean things up around her house with his siblings.  Ruth Williams (his grandmother) left him specific instructions as to who was to get what after she passed. He wasn’t there very long when there’s a knock at the door. To his surprise it’s Naomi, an old girlfriend of his. It’s been years since they’ve spoken. Naomi said she got a letter from Ruth asking her to visit. She had no idea she had passed and felt awkward being there, “I hate to intrude as such a time.”

“Don’t think of that….It’s good to see you…and know that you’ve done well. I frequently see your name mentioned in prestigious magazines.” A smile came though Keith’s voice, “Even saw you interviewed on T.V. once. I’m glad for you. You made the right decision to not marry me.”

“Naomi remembered how she broke his heart and how she lost at love. Why had Ruth Wilson brought her here now?” Keith handed Naomi the note that Ruth wrote for Naomi. It told of a painting she wanted her to have that was stored in the attic.

Keith and Naomi aren’t prepared to see who was in this painting. It was Ruth, Keith’s grandmother. Boy was she a beauty. He’d never seen this picture before. Why was it hiding in the attic? Next to the painting was a box of letters. Keith started to read them and told Naomi the content. She was half listening because she knew what her Grandfather’s art work looked like. After her inspection she determined that he painted the picture. How did that happen? He hated Ruth and the whole Wilson clan. Keith and Naomi learned though the letters that Ruth drove an ambulance during the war and Keith’s Granda served with General Montgomery in Europe. “Your grandfather served in the war too, didn’t he Naomi? So how did they all know each other? And why hide this painting all these years?” They both wanted answers.

Sandra, Keith’s sister says, “Ruth wasn’t always our grandmother. She as a woman, for goodness sake. Did ye thank you were hatched?”

Keith replies, “It just makes me wonder what else I don’t’ know about Gran or Granda, for that matter.”

“ and I wonder, “Noami said, “why my grandfather had such a long-standing dislike of the entire Wilson family.. She thinks to herself, “Was I a fool to let Keith Go? Maybe this was an opportunity for the two of them to put things right for the sake of their grandparents, whatever the offense had been…”I’m sure we’ll find the answers soon and bring peace to the situation.”

Keith couldn’t help but think there might be more too and felt comfortable encouraging her, “Art is a calling, as well as a business. It wasn’t your grandfather who gave you that calling.”

Naomi replied, “God’s proven what He wants to do though my life…at least as far as my art is concerned.”

Old feelings start to surface. Could they give each other another chance? Maybe solving the mystery in the attic would give both of their families peace and a little more.

I enjoyed Christine’s characters Keith and Naomi and was hooked in by this mystery! Enjoyed reading how they put all the pieces together. I highly recommend this delightful story and this authors other books! You won’t be disappointed.

Reviewed by: Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins

Finding Hope Through Fiction Blog

Friday, May 09, 2014

Jessica Dotta's Mark of Distinction ~ Reviewed

Mark Of Distinction
(Price Of Privilege V2)
By Jessica Dotta (Author)
Binding Softcover
Release Date May 1, 2014
Publisher Tyndale House Publishers
Series Price Of Privilege Trilogy
Series Number 2
ISBN 1414375565


London is said to be the glittering jewel of society, a world unto itself--but to Julia Elliston it is a city of shadows. Her life is swiftly dissolving into scandal. And in Victorian society, even a whisper of scandal--substantiated or not--can be the death of a young woman's reputation.Now under the watchful eye of Lord Roy Pierson, one of most influential men in England, Julia begrudgingly accepts his protection. But Chance Macy's power is far-reaching as well, and he is eager to assert his claim over her.Thrust into society as the Emerald Heiress, Julia is the toast of London, a celebrated curiosity. But in reality she's trapped between the clutches of two powerful men. Aided only by a gentleman whose intentions she prays she can trust, Julia must finally take control of her own fate--but outwitting one's foe rarely goes according to plan.


I’m thankful for the review copy of book two in the Price of Privilege series. This story starts where the first book Born of Persuasion ends. **Spoiler** at the end of the first book Julia learns that Lord Roy Pierson was her guardian and biological father. So when Julie flees for her life with Edward they run to Lord Roy Pierson’s house for protection from Mr. Macy.  In this novel readers get to see (along with Julia) Macy dripping with revenge and learn how well he is at manipulating situations to perform his evil deeds.

Lord Roy Pierson’s plan is to present Julia to polite society in a coming out party. They will explain she is the daughter he sent away to finishing school, that’s why no one has heard of her.  Soon after she will become engaged to Lord Isaac Dalry. This will help both Lord Pierson and Lord Dalry who have aspirations to run for a political office.

Julia is not excited about her options but agrees to this scheme and studies hard to learn society’s rules and how to act like a lady in order to become the Emerald Heiress.  All the while hoping her father would want get to know her and like her as his daughter. But Lord Pierson is a gruff and stern man who’s all about business.

There was a short window to learn all the rules of society and how to walk and breathe in her new fancy clothes. The reader wonders as does Julia could she really pull this off? Could she learn everything in a few months and pretend to be happy on top of it? Tall order but Lord Isaac Dalry has her back in social situations. This part reminded me of the movie Princess Diaries where the character Julie Andrews played tries to teach Mia Thermopolis, (played by Ann Hathaway) how to be a princess that would eventually become Queen of Genovia. Fun, Grin!

Mr. Macy made it known he could snatch and harm Julia at any time which made everyone nervous. All the players in this game knew that in “Victorian society, even a whisper of scandal-substantiated or not-can be the death of a young woman’s reputation.” This mattered to Julia because of her love for Edward and to Lord Dalry because of his political ambitions.

Soon Julia becomes the toast of London, and everyone is anxious to get to know her. She feels trapped in a power struggle between two men. How could she get out of their clutches and take back control of her own life. She was learning to rely on God for His help there was no one else to turn to.

I felt the tension between Julia and her father as he tried to control everything she did in order to keep her safe and to make their plan work. Mr. Macy was on the prowl to get Julia.  He made sure she and her father knew he was always near. I agonized along with Julia in her challenge but quite honestly she let her emotions run her actions and made some crazy choices in book one and made some more in book two. I just wanted to say to her, “Stop and think about your next move BEFORE you make it.” Grin!

I like how this author starts off the novel in the future much like the movie Titanic did. Julia says, “I’m an old woman now. I had no idea my story would cause such an uproar…long life has its advantages. Your perception grows clearer, even if your sight dims…yet the world thinks what it will. I am far too old to care, anyway…It all began, of course, with my father (Lord Roy Pierson)… 

I liked that Jessica writes this series in the first person perspective. It made things more personal. You feel as if you are walking in the characters shoes. “Julia shares her tale of misfortune, mistakes and misery. She was caught in a snare of deception and passion as a greater love sought to save her to Him. Who could she turn to for answers who could she trust with her heart and life?” 

Love this beginning. Julia then drops readers back in time for the rest of her story just like the Titanicmovie did. “I want to believe that my life would be rectified-that I would find my way back to Edward. But as each day passed, that hope became a glittering candle, sitting in a draft.” 

I was caught up in the mannerisms, apparel, and lifestyle of the privileged and decorum of the 1800’s. It’s a fun and fascinating peek at society, rolled together with many suspenseful moments that kept your heart pounding and my fingers turning pages reading about believable characters I found myself rooting for. 

I highly recommend this novel as a great read and a book club pick. There is so much to enjoy and talk about. I can’t wait to see where this author takes readers in the next book called Price of Privilege. You will too. 

Reviewed by: Nora :o)
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
Finding Hope Through Fiction blog

Bonus Review:

Jessica Dotta’s second book in the Price of Privilege series is one of those books you want to curl up with, closing the world out. I was fortunate enough to have a virus that kept me home from my day job a few days. Oh, the tale of Julia and the men in her life kept me company and my mind of my symptoms.

I cannot wait patiently for the final installment. Oh, the unresolved questions, the unscratched itches, the unsatisfied curiosity. How does Julia’s tale resolve? Dotta is an artist. Her word art is lush and rich. Scents, sounds, sights come to life as Julia discovers exactly what is required of her in a society that is almost as foreign to her as it is to the reader.

Mark of Distinction is full of frills and flourish as Julia is introduced into society and attempts to take her place in an environment that is wary and watchful, waiting to find a juicy morsel to grasp hold of and send her and her father to societal ruination. Scandal is a breath away, lurking, hiding, waiting. And Julia is fully aware of just how scandalous her story is.

Must have final book soon….

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Bonus Review: 

Beautiful writing pulls you into Jessica Dotta's sophomore novel, Mark of Distinction. Even better than her debut novel, intrigue, danger, and hopelessness dog Julia's every move. I wondered how it would resolve, and a couple of the twists made me gasp with surprise. Don't miss this wonderful story. Novel Rocket and I give it our highest recommendation. It made my Top Ten of 2014 List.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, president
Novel Rocket

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Goulds' The Amish Seamstress ~ Reviewed

Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould
Pages: 354
Binding Softcover
Release Date Aug 1, 2013
Publisher Harvest House Publishers
Series Women Of Lancaster County
Series Number 4
ISBN 0736926267

Bestselling authors Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould provide an unexpected surprise in The Amish Seamstress, Book 4 in the Women of Lancaster County series, which tells the stories of young Amish women as they explore their roots, connect with family, and discover true love.
Izzy Mueller is an exceptional listener and gifted caregiver. She's also a talented seamstress. As the young woman sits with her elderly patients, she quietly sews as they share their stories. She's content with her life until circumstances reconnect her with someone she once loved. Zed Bayer, a Mennonite, is not what her family is hoping for in a spouse, and his creative interest in filmmaking is definitely at odds with her Amish upbringing.
As Izzy is swept up again in Zed and renews her friendship with his sister, Ella, she begins to ask questions about her own life--her creative longings and historical interests, her relationships and desire for romance, and most importantly, her faith. What is the path God has for her? Can she learn from the past of both her family's and Zed's--or must she forge a completely different future of her own?


The Amish Seamstress is book 4 in The Women of Lancaster County, and it wraps up the series.  In this book we learn about Izzy Mueller.  She is a gifted caregiver and a talented seamstress, but she feels like she doesn’t fit in with her family.  She is surprised when she realizes she’s in love with her best friend, Zed, who is Mennonite, and off to college to study film.  Through different circumstances, she ends up caring for Zed’s dying grandmother, and finds herself becoming part of their family. 
It had been a long time since I’d read the other books in this series, and was very excited to see how the story concluded.  I enjoyed watching Izzy’s character grow, as she realized the areas she was truly gifted in, and began to trust the Lord with her future.  It also great seeing characters from the earlier books come back into the story, and seeing how different loose ends came together.  If you liked the other books in the series, you will love this one!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Monday, May 05, 2014

Martin Allison Booth's The Reichenbach Problem ~ Reviewed

  • The Reichenbach Problem
    Martin Allison Booth
    Series: Reichenbach Trilogy (Book 1)
    Paperback: 368 pages
    Publisher: Kregel Publications (June 1, 2013)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1782640169


Arthur Conan Doyle is on the run from his own fame. Taking a much needed holiday, Doyle flees to a picturesque village in Switzerland nestled beneath the imposing Reichenbach Falls. There he hopes to find anonymity, but even in this beautiful rural setting, peace eludes him when he finds himself immediately recognized by a fan who pressures him into looking into the death of a fellow visitor.
All too soon, Doyle’s somewhat unwilling gentle probing into the case begins to cause the finger of suspicion to turn towards him. But can the creator of the famous detective actually do the sleuthing himself? Although able to pen the character of Sherlock, he soon begins to learn he does not share his leading creation’s characteristics, but rather Watson’s. Can the “sidekick” see enough of the picture to solve the case for once?
Sherlock Holmes has fascinated readers ever since he first burst into fiction, over one hundred years ago. In this novel, the first in a trilogy, we meet his author and discover the difficult relationship between them.


I was sent a copy of The Reinchenbach Problem for review, and although the title wouldn't have made it a must read, the topic made it a have-to in my book. This twisty tale full of intrigue and danger is a fictional account of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle getting caught up in a mystery of his own. 

The creator of Sherlock Holmes takes to rural Switzerland to sort out his feelings about his larger than life character. His fame, his medical practice and his spiritual seeking created his need to go to a pristine, mountainous area where he could enjoy brisk walks and engage in conversations with friendly locals and other tourists and hopefully hide from the spotlight.

However, as happens in every good story, the plan is changed for Doyle. 

Beginning from the second a young man enters Doyle's train compartment and works his awkward self under Doyle's reluctant wing, the good doctor's delightful vacation turns into a cloudy nightmare. 

Within hours of his arrival into the pastoral refuge there is a horrible death with the shadow of unanswered questions hanging over it. And, on top of that, Doyle is known by the other tourists. One hands the author a book that he's written and expects that it will change Doyle's life, another needs a little marriage counseling. Then there is the character of Sherlock Holmes…is there a spirit of Sherlock? A seance is suggested, just for the fun of possibly meeting the real Sherlock. 

Things spiral out of control, so much so, that the suspicious death seems connected to Arthur Conan Doyle. 

Can the creator of the world's most brilliant and quirky detective solve a case without Sherlock's help? And can he do it in time to save his own neck? 

I really enjoyed this read. Set in the early 1900's/late 1800's the language is formal and slightly foreign which adds all the more to the story. Readers who get frustrated by prose with heavy vocabulary might find that a deal breaker, but those who love a meaty read should find the prose very satisfactory. And speaking of prose, there are some beautiful paragraphs, the writing is a delight to read. I appreciate a slower moving story that takes time to paint a picture, and this novel does that. 

But though there is plenty of scenery and introspection, there is also plenty of activity. Unfortunately, I didn't have the luxury of sitting down and reading the novel over several long sessions. I will reread it to see what I didn't pick up in my shorter snippets spread out over several weeks. There were bursts of activity with a few cliff-hanger moments. I did have a few issues with keeping track of the large cast of characters and the last 1/4 of the middle may have gotten a little boggy for me. But those may be issues completely related to my need to set the book down for several days. 

I loved that there were little facts about Arthur Conan Doyle's life thrown in and it was interesting to see his struggles with spiritism vs the Catholic religion play out. His personal life played out a little and hinted that he might have a bit of a wandering eye. After reading it I did read a very short bio about Doyle and indeed the author seems to have done his homework. 

Overall, if you are a Sherlock Holmes fan this book needs to end up in your to read pile. A great gift idea for friends or family who love a good mystery or Holmes. Did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have a little bit of Sherlock Holmes in his blood? Well, you'll just have to read The Reichenbach Problem to find out. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Friday, May 02, 2014

Vicki Hinze's Down & Dead in Dixie ~ Reviewed

By Vicki Hinze
Published By Magnolia Leaf Press
267 Pages

ABOUT BOOK: Clean Read. This book is suitable for most readers. 

To live, sometimes ya gotta die! Daisy Grant is in a heap of trouble. She stumbles into a mob turf war and now somebody wants her dead. Daisy may be small-town to the bone, not at all the kind of woman to deal with the Southern Mafia, but she knows how to get creative fast! 

Enters the way-too-attractive Mark Jensen... He didn't mean to rescue anybody, and he certainly didn't mean to go on the run because of a stubborn, sassy woman. Soon they are up to their ears in so many wacky characters they don't know who's on their side. Daisy and Mark decide that to live, sometimes ya gotta die. And sometimes to die right takes . . . practice.

Review: I’m thankful for the review copy of the first book in the Down & Dead, Inc. series. It’s a delightful, suspenseful drama that introduced me to Vicki Hinze’s humorous side. Love that! I also enjoyed her cast of characters that brought me through a full range of emotion that started off with laughter, empathy, anger and a few more as I instantly related to Daisy Grant. She is having a string of unfortunate events. The first of these events that starts the unfortunate events is the fact that she catches her hem on her shoe, it brakes and makes her fall. While down for the count she witnesses Edward Marcello’s murder. If that wasn’t bad enough she discovers this was a mob hit on another mob family!

“…If I’d known I was going to die today, I’d have worn more comfortable shoes…I’m not fond of heels…As it as, catching my hem was catching a break-odd for me, because my standard requirement to catch a break is to need both hands and a net to just miss out on any luck at all. I guess I was saving it all up for one night.”

She goes to the police and tells them what she’s seen. They want to have her testify against the mob. FBI Detective Keller tells her how the witness protection works. She learns their success rate of keeping people alive isn’t so great. Two mob families wanted her dead. She feels she’d take matters into her own hands. It was her life after all.

“Daisy quickly discovers that to live, sometimes Ya gotta die. But when you’re not a pro at dying, you can mess up…and sometimes to get death right, it takes. Practice.” Her friend Lester tells her to find his friend Paul in Dixie, Florida. He’s help her. Daisy feels lead to go to New Orleans to work for her brothers friend Mark Jensen. They’d never met but his brother trusted Mark and so would she. She didn’t’ want to involve Mark in her troubles. So she called herself Lily, then the fun and inner turmoil begins.

Daisy/Lily ends up in a place called Sampson Park. It’s a quiet place where no phones, computers, modern conveniences it’s a special place you’ll be safe. No cameras, recorded other communication equipment or devices.

Lesters friend tells Dixie, “Wounds made simple things complex, but not hopeless.” Daisy was learning a new way to live that wasn’t comfortable. She says, “Every single atom. Never, not once in my whole life, had I dared to want it rely on someone else for anything…! I’m definitely out of my mind!”

Daisy learns that she’s not the only one running for her life. In the author notes Vicki says that Sampson Park is fictional but Shelter House, which is locate in the central area of Sampson Park is real and it’s services include a 24 hour hotline, crisis counseling, outreach, primary prevention and confidential housing in Okaloosa and Walton counties in FL.

This is a fun clean story with some drinking references that has no graphic killing scenes in it. I enjoyed Daisy and Mark adventure to save their lives and their touching sweet moments together too. I loved how he treated Daisy given all they went through in such a short time.

It’s a book I recommend for a laugh and some food for thought. I was thrilled to see another side of this authors writing style. It was so much fun to read and laugh!

Reviewed by: Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins

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