the hideaway by Lauren K. Denton

the hideaway

Sara Margaret Jenkins has just inherited her grandmother’s dilapidated bed and breakfast in Sweet Bay, Alabama.  Forced to leave behind her New Orlean’s business to attend to the numerous details, she discovers a bit of mystery surrounding her grandmother Mags.  Sara has a chance at a new life in Sweet Bay if she can find the strength to stay.  After all, not all stories end happily ever after.

The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton is a romantic novel about new beginnings.  The story is told in overlapping chapters, past, and present, grandmother and granddaughter. Even though the book begins with Mags’ death, her story is told through her own eyes as Sara pieces together the clues left.

I enjoyed both stories although perhaps Mags story just a wee bit more.  Her in life in the 1960s, with its expectations and issues, was masterly crafted.  The characters that arrived and stayed or left in The Hideaway were diverse and interesting.  It would be a real treat to hear William, Dot, Mrs. DeBerry, Daisy, Starla, Glory, Major, Bert, and even Robert’s stories as well.

One issue I was a little confused about was the ownership of the house.  Originally, the bed and breakfast was run by Mrs. DeBerry who leaves the business in dire financial straits.  Legally, how did Mags obtain the title?  Then just how exactly does the town of Sweet Bay use eminent domain when the legitimate owner has due process rights?  Of course, knowing the details isn’t essential to enjoying the story but it would add an additional element of realism.
The Hideaway by  Lauren K. Denton is a delightful light read.  You won’t be disappointed with this one!

four star

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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Vacation to Graceland by Phillip Cornell

vacation to graceland

Even the best-laid travel plans go astray.  Often the most anticipated aspect of the trip has some drawbacks. Wouldn’t you agree? Vacation to Graceland by Phillip Cornell is no exception to Murphy’s Law.

Scooter joy riding Granny, grouchy mom, financially strapped sister Crissy, her two kids, and the narrator head to Memphis for a family reunion barbecue. Hitting the road early to make the family fish fry is complicated by a quick stop at Kmart, another stop for lottery tickets, heading across town to pay a bill, faulty GPS knowledge, hunger, crankiness, hotel reservation issues, parking problems, exorbitant prices and a wrong turn or two. It’s a good thing that all’s well that ends well.

The misadventures that occur in Vacation to Graceland by Phillip Cornell are typical of any family trip and as a result were quite humorous.  I felt like I was stuffed in the backseat along with them on the trip, and none too comfortable either, I must admit.  It was a quick, entertaining read.

However, there were some grammatical issues that I was not sure whether to chalk up to local vernacular, intentional errors representing the narrator’s natural speech patterns, or author mistakes.  There were errors in noun and verb use (sale/sell), homophone confusion (isle/aisle), misspelling mistakes (intensions/intentions), inconsistent spelling (gripping/griping), missing apostrophes (trips expenses/trip’s expenses), verb and adjective mix-ups (drunken/drunk), and words I just couldn’t figure out what they were meant to convey (My mom hackled me?).  Far be it for me to criticize overmuch.  I’ve been known to have language issues myself.   After all, there was that official police visit that had me imagining house stealers and that “go and see if the sow laid eggs” Mexican Spanish expression that caused me some grief. (See Who’s on first in Spanglish and Learning and Teaching–Language)

As most people have had their fair share of road trip disasters, the majority of readers will find something to relate to and laugh about in this book.  I mean, who hasn’t been squashed next to bickering children in the back seat?  If you prefer not to relive such traumatic experiences ever, perhaps this isn’t the book for you.  My overall rating was influenced by the above mentioned grammatical problems. 

3 star

Vacation to Graceland by Phillip Cornell was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day.  Get your copy here.

One Last Lie by Rob Kaufman

one last lie

Jonathan and Philip are approached by an old college friend of Phillip’s with an interesting proposition.  Angela offers to have their child.  Thrilled at the prospect of becoming fathers, they little realize the depths of deception that Angela has planned nor the price they will have to pay.

One Last Lie by Rob Kaufman was a page turner!  I was on the edge of my seat as each layer of the story was revealed.  Clues to the conclusion are scattered throughout the story, however, the “last lie” remained shrouded until close to the end.

The story has multiple perspectives so that the reader is able to see the horror unfold, yet helpless to do anything about it.  The characters were well-developed, both the principal players and minor personas. Rationales for the ultimate decisions made by the characters are hinted at but not spelled out. There’s an element of chance throughout it all.

The majority of the story is set in Connecticut, on streets that I visited as a child, which for me added just a little extra realism.  The author did a fabulous job setting the scene.  Things like this just don’t happen in upper-middle-class America, or do they?

four star

It was well written, with nary an error found. Unfortunately,  I don’t think this book is for everyone.  It’s not a pleasant read.  There’s no happy ever after ending given.  I would even say that it just might be too real for some.  Who knows why people do what they do?  Who knows why bad things happen? It would be easy to say that horrible things are perpetrated by those who have some sort of mental illness. In fact, the book suggests that. However, can that explain the permissiveness or blindness of those who interact with such people on a daily basis?

This book was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day. Read more about this book here. Get your own copy here.

If the Bed Falls In by Paul Casselle

if the bed falls in

Tom Friday is a slightly overweight struggling photographer battling middle age lethargy, or is he?  One day, just like any other day in his humdrum life, Tom wakes up in Joseph Miller’s car in West London.  The Beretta PX4 Storm in the glove box comes in handy when Tom decides to check out Joseph’s home and meets some bad guys.  Characters in Tom’s life start overlapping those in Joseph’s world.  Is Sarah Tom’s long-time platonic friend or Tilda, Joseph’s dead wife?  Accents start changing as well. Preston, a casual acquaintance of Tom’s, formerly a British up and coming artist, now has a pronounced Baltimore twang. Is it a cocaine-induced hallucination or is there something to this cloak and dagger stuff?  

I was surprised to find that what I believed to be a British spy novel actually was a Prepper conspiracy theory book in disguise. Somehow Amschel Rothschild was involved in Tom/Joseph’s identity crisis along with the incorrectly misattributed quote “Let me control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.”  That opened a whole new can of worms which included the CIA,  the Federal Reserve, and the fictional US President Harrington.  

Much to my delight, I learned some new vocabulary in the course of reading If the Bed Falls In by Paul Casselle.  Did you know that the term Limey is a slightly derogatory term used to refer to a British person?  It comes from the practice of British sailors sucking on limes to prevent scurvy and is North American in origin.  A mortise is a hole cut in a door frame designed to meet up with the lock section in the door once the key is turned. Scrumping is the act of stealing withered apples usually by scaling a wall or fence. Unfortunately, I’m still not quite clear what the adverb bolshily might be, possibly coming from the word boshy.

The desk clerk, Cyril, was my absolute favorite character in the book.  Remicient of Angus Bough, Johnny English’s assistant, he does whatever he can to aid his favorite hero.

3 star

Will you enjoy reading  If the Bed Falls In by Paul Casselle?  If you enjoy spy novels, then yes.  If you don’t, well, then no.

Read more about this book here.  Get your own copy here.  This book was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day.

Herbs and Essential Oils Ultimate Bundle 2019

My latest accomplishment, Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico, is included in the Herbs and Essential Oils Ultimate Bundle this year!

A peek inside the Herbs & Essential Oil Bundle!
Can you find mine?

The Herbs and Essential Oils bundle is the one I look forward to every year. If you are at all interested in natural healing, then you should check out this package deal. From June 5 to 10, you can get your copy of this incredible bundle for $37. That’s 29 eBooks, 7 eCourses & membership sites and 4 printable packs with a grand total of over $760 dollars for less than the price that my herb book costs on Amazon.

Buy the bundle now!

Don’t wait! Get your bundle today and dive right into further herbal exploration with me!

Cancelled: The Ultimate October Surprise by Michael Pinsky

cancelled

Cancelled: The Ultimate October Surprise by Michael Pinsky

It’s June before the 2016 US elections and things are a bit out of the ordinary.  Business tycoon Austin Howard is the unlikely dark-horse for the Republicans.  A former senator, Secretary of State and former First Lady Samantha Thompson is battling it out at the Democratic primaries with Senator Leland Anthony, the popular favorite.  While the public is being entertained by the mud-slinging Presidential candidate debates, General William Mendenhall, retired commander, becomes increasingly alarmed about the underlying motives for the Presidential orders that cut military spending but increase militarization of federal agencies.  The whole world is watching as the days count down to the election.

Although Cancelled: The Ultimate October Surprise by Michael Pinsky is a work of fiction, a number of characters could be easily identified as having some basis in reality.  This added to the intrigue and the what-if scenarios but also was a little confusing.  For instance, several actual episodes of the Trump/Clinton race are presented through the eyes of Austin Howard of Samantha Thompson, thereby accrediting things not known to be true as motives for the real events.  Then worldwide terrorist attacks were mentioned in the text, along with fictionalized attacks making it difficult to keep the parallel universes straight at times.  Despite this, the political story that unfolded was riveting.  Perhaps there is something to all those conspiracy theories after all.

I had more trouble following the covert military sections.  Instead of prose, most of the story was advanced through dialogue.  There were multiple characters to keep track of including retired and active duty military personnel, senators, governors, and terrorists.  Not being terribly military aware, I couldn’t say if the maneuvers were more or less authentic or boys playing soldier.

If you followed the 2016 elections as carefully as I did, I believe you would enjoy this book.  If you are following the political developments under POTUS 45 since his election, I believe you would find the book incredibly interesting.  Could the events that are depicted in this fiction book actually happen?  Only time will tell.

3 star

I could not, in all conscience, rate this book higher, however much I enjoyed it, because of the number of typographical errors and poorly worded sentences.  The dialogue was forced and repetitive in many instances.  A good editor would be able to fix these errors and add to the quality of the book.

This book was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day.  Click here to see other great titles.

The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

Illusions, pretense, secrets and lies. When a man dies at his own resurrection, escape artist Wren Lockhart, former apprentice to the great Harry Houdini, takes center stage in the investigation. Encompassing the years 1907-1927, from Washington, DC to Massachusetts, crossing the ocean to include England and France, the layers of mystery surrounding her are a puzzle for Agent Elliot Matthews to solve. What roles do magic, sleight of hand and faith play in Victor Peale’s death?

Harry Houdini and Dorothy Young on stage.

Fictional character Wren Lockhart was inspired by the real-life entertainer Dorothy Young, stage assistant to Harry Houdini.  The premise of this novel is a comment Houdini made about returning from the dead, that “it’s humanly impossible.”  After being convinced of the fraudulent nature of mediums, he spent considerable effort debunking various spiritualists of the time. (See also Houdini and the Supernatural, Houdini’s Greatest Trick: Debunking Medium Mina Crandon, Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle: a friendship split by spiritualism, Harry Houdini Investigates the Spirit World, Houdini: Magician, Spiritualist, or Skeptic?)

Houdini, the magician who debunked magic, could not bear to see the great rationalist (Arthur Conan) Doyle enchanted by ghosts and frauds. And so he did what any friend would: He set out to prove spiritualism false and rob his friend Doyle of the only comforting fiction that was keeping him sane. It was the least he could do.—John Hodgman

Following in her mentor’s footsteps, Wren uses her knowledge about performing and sleight of hand to assist the investigation into the resurrection of Victor Peale performed by self-proclaimed magician Horace Stapleton. The historical details that have been included in this novel give the reader a glimpse into the brilliant vaudeville world of the 1920s. The suspense built by brief looks into Wren’s long-buried past and the developing criminal case, as well as a blossoming romance, made the entire reading experience quite enjoyable.

A thoroughly delightful read.  Get your copy here.

5 star

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Right Proper Murder by Pearl Goodfellow

Clara Bennett isn’t much interested in attending the seance her Aunt Gwen is hosting. She likes it even less when the medium channels someone from her past. Things rapidly go downhill with a dead body, missing lady’s maid, and eight magical cats. It’s naturally quite overwhelming.

Clara is determined to get to the bottom of all this mayhem. She volunteers her services to the admirable Detective Inspector William Davenport from Scotland Yard as he attempts to unravel the mystery.

The eight black cats are Gloom, the token female, and her brothers, Onyx, Eclipse, Shade, Midnight, Fraidy, Carbon, and Jet. They are known collectively as Infiniti and are the immortal familiars attached to Hattie Jenkins’ family on the Coven Isles on the planet Earth. The egg-transportation device carries them to Thera, an alternate universe that resembles 18 century England, where they land right next to a dead body.

Apparently talking cats are none too odd an occurrence in this alternate world. Of course, the felines are held for questioning since it is obvious that the dead girl was murdered. After they are cleared, they have young Clara taking selfies with a tablet discovered inside the egg ship as they travel by carriage around town following up leads.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the 18th-century mystery, I’m not so sure how I felt about the cats. Even though they all had different “accents” and Jet was a cat-nip tweaker, I couldn’t really distinguish between them. If there must be magical, talking, time-traveling felines, then one would have been more than enough.

Then there were the ‘s instead of plurals instances. Even though there is a disclaimer at the beginning of the book clarifying that this book is written in Brit-speak, I’m fairly certain that apostrophe s is used when it is identifying a possession and never to indicate more than one even in the UK (i.e the universe’s demise vs. multiple universes).

Talking cats aside, Clara makes an excellent amateur sleuth. There seem to be some romantic inclinations between her and the good detective, who suffered some sort of accident in the past and may have a glass eye, or perhaps not. It wasn’t clear to me.

If you are looking for something a bit out of the ordinary with a classical who-done-it theme, then A Right Proper Murder by Pearl Goodfellow is the book for you.

You can read my review at Reedsy Discovery here.

Solar Storm, Solar Winter, and Solar Dawn by Rob Lopez

This post-apocalyptic series follows the Nolan family and small band of friends as they attempt to survive the aftermath of a Carrington force solar storm.

Sergeant Rick Nolan and his crew are part of a black-ops operation in Syria. Lauren Nolan, a former military interpreter, has just begun a new job requiring frequent traveling. Josh, a moody teenager, and Lizzy, a serious 6-year-old, have been left in the care of Lauren’s parents in North Carolina. And then the solar storm knocks out the power grid around the world.

Solar Storm chronicles Rick and Lauren’s struggles to return to their children and the children’s struggles to keep body and soul together as society collapses around their ears.

Solar Winter picks up with the onset of an extremely frigid winter. The Nolans and their rag-tag band of survivors hunker down in what used to be a golf clubhouse to wait it out. New factions arise and not all of them have the best of intentions. Boss rounds up and enslaves men and women alike. Packy is a bit of a pyromaniac and self-proclaimed trader. Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, the nuclear power plant goes into meltdown and the 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse, in the guise of Rick’s former nemesis Major Connors and his cronies, arrive on the Nolans’ doorstep.

Solar Dawn begins with the Nolan clan fleeing west. They encounter other pockets of civilization and other raiders. Rick attempts to unify the small groups to fight against the hooligans. Meanwhile, Major Connors and his crew have been busy setting up a new government, one Rick does not want to be a part of. Lauren is taken captive and the militia of the Carolinas overseen by Connors declares all-out war on Seargent Rick Nolan.

Solar Revolution, the next book in the series will be released sometime in 2019. I can’t wait until this book is out!

I enjoy apocalyptical dystopian stories and this series has been my favorite so far. Practical issues that are so often left out in other stories were integral parts of this saga. For instance, what’s a woman to do when she has her period? She can’t run out to the store anymore and pick up tampons. The stores have all been looted. Then birth control. Without modern medical interventions, people will be breeding like rabbits even if the environment is no longer feasible for infants.

There was also the fallacy of those prepper bunkhouses. It was a piece of cake for raiders to poison the air supply and take all those long-hoarded supplies for themselves. I also thought it realistic that those that had knowledge of the best survival skills, the elderly, were also the first to go. Physically they were no longer able to survive the difficult circumstances that the lack of electricity brought about. Of course, that meant that the younger survivors, who never had to make do with shortages in the land of abundance (the U.S.), found it more complicated to create a life off-grid.

Of the three, I was least satisfied with Solar Dawn. The story turned from practicalities to war maneuvers as civilization was reduced to roving hoards of delinquents. Of course, they haven’t turned to cannibalism yet which seems a given in many apocalypse books I’ve read. So perhaps there’s hope that the world will find a way to begin again in Solar Revolution.