When The Bough Breaks by Jonathan Kellerman

7C9E3B91-A988-4FE2-AEB0-05224EFA1D6B When the Bough Breaks is the first book in the Alex Delaware series by Jonathan Kellerman. Alex Delaware is a retired psychologist and in When the Bough Breaks Alex helps his friend, police detective, Milo. Milo is investigating a murder and has a juvenile eyewitness he wants Alex to interview. After getting to know Melody, Alex becomes involved in the investigation and helps solve the case. 

I found the writing to be very descriptive. It was so easy to picture everything going on. The experience of reading this book felt very similar to the experience of watching a crime TV show.  I enjoyed the characters and their development. Though I did feel that some of Alex’s actions in the end were not consistent with his personality. But, really this just makes me want to continue to read the series to understand his character better. This book was written in 1985 and it was fun going back in time with little details like using phone booths and calling information when looking for a phone number. 

Because author Kellerman does such a great job in describing scenes there are triggers warning for violence and child molestation. 

Ask Me No Questions by Shelley Noble

548431BC-EEE0-4C20-BC64-1093D0714ABF In Ask Me No Questions by Shelley Noble, Lady Dunbridge moves to Manhattan after the death of her husband. She moves in with her friend Bev who will introduce her to society. But before Bev has the chance her husband is murdered and Lady Dunbridge steps in to comfort her and also finds herself trying to figure out who murdered her friend’s husband. 

I found this to be a quick fun book. The mystery held my attention and kept me guessing. It was easy to picture Manhattan during the time period of 1900. The characters were fun and I especially liked Lady Dunbridge’s maid Lily and butler Preswick. Along with the compelling mystery and engaging characters there was also horse racing and corrupt police. This is the first book in the Lady Dunbridge Mystery series and I look forward to reading more. 

My copy of Ask Me No Questions was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!

Dreams of Falling by Karen White

A40C7786-0B0D-48DC-8A5F-DDC6562FC79C Dreams of Falling by Karen White is a southern story about family secrets and moving on from our pasts. The story is told in multigenerational flashbacks between the past and the present. In the present we follow the story of Larkin and her return to her hometown after nine years of being away. We learn of why she left and why she has not wanted to return and why she is angry with her parents. In the past storyline we follow the story of Larkin’s grandmother, Margaret, and her best friends, Ceecee and Bitty. Larkin realizes that there is much about her family that she does not know and so she begins to ask questions and search for answers. Dreams of Falling is the story of what she discovers in her search. 

There were many things I really enjoyed about this book. Karen White has a beautiful, descriptive way of writing that I really enjoyed and was probably my favorite part of the book. She tackles some great themes and I enjoyed thinking about family and the past and whether it is helpful or harmful to dissect our pasts. There is much to discuss about family and love, jealousy and the sacrifices others make because of the mistake of one person. This would be a fun book to read with others as there is so much to discuss.

I struggled with the characters in this book. While I really liked the story the characters just fell flat for me. They felt fluffy and without the substance that I enjoy in characters. I probably enjoyed the characters in the past storyline the most because the book went by quickly during those segments. When the story followed Larkin I really struggled with staying engaged. 

If you love a good story with lots to discuss and think about afterwards and characters with a lot of substance is not important to you Dreams of Falling would be a great read. 

My copy of Dreams of Falling was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!

InstaStyle by Tezza

513FAF53-0358-4EA4-A97E-6B58CCDEA771 Tezza is an Instagram influencer and so with that is an expert in how to use Instagram. In her book InstaStyle Tezza shares what she has learned. The book is divided into three sections. In the first section she explains the basic essentials of Instagram and covers basics such as creating your account and the language of Instagram. In the second section she shares ways to organize and showcase your life that relate to the mission you have, covering topics like defining your story and how to find ideas for posts, working with a photographer, location and props. All ideas to go towards the story you will tell. In the last section of the book Tezza shares ideas on how to get your audience and elevate your brand. 

The book is laid out beautifully and is easy to read. The sections are small and the information simple and easy to understand. The pictures are gorgeous. I found many of the ideas really easy to use and will incorporate many of them. I did discover while reading this book that I really have no interest in becoming an Instagram influencer. There is really a lot of time and hard work that goes into Instagram being a part or all of a personal business. Time I have decided I want to spend other places. But I really enjoyed the book and understand Instagram a little better now and have a much larger respect for those who do use Instagram for a business. 

My copy of InstaStyle was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!

The Drama Teacher by Koren Zailckas

327E05CD-FDE0-4B94-9247-689238CFEA48 The Drama Teacher by Koren Zailckas was a book I was not expecting to enjoy as much as I did. In fact, I found I could not put it down. Gracie is your average mother of two living with her husband in upstate New York with all the stresses of any average family. Except that Gracie isn’t really your average woman who deals with the stresses of life in normal ways. Gracie is a con artist who turns to cons to handle and solve the stresses of life. The story flips back and forth between the current stresses and cons Gracie finds herself involved in and her past where we learn how she learned to be a con artist and why she uses cons as her way of coping. 

I found the story to be quick reading and entertaining. There were a few things that I felt were a bit rushed and some details left out that I think would have made more sense as to some of Gracie’s actions.  

Gracie is a very complicated character. Some people might not like her at all but I found her totally fascinating. I found her cons fun to read about and I loved getting a behind the scenes look at how a con artist works and thinks. Gracie has done some truly awful things but I found myself rooting for her and hoping she could find happiness. I think Gracie was the reason I could not put the book down. She sucked me into the story. 

My copy of The Drama Teacher was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!

Murder in the Oval Library by C. M. Gleason

EC092ECA-ECC4-41B2-8893-B99471676759 Murder in the Oval Library by C.M. Gleason is the second book in the Lincoln’s White House Mystery series. As Lincoln waits for the Confederate Army to begin its attack on Washington DC, about a hundred men, the Frontier Guard, are in the White House awaiting for the attack. One of these men is found dead in the Oval Library. Is there a murderer among them? President Lincoln, knowing he can trust Adam Quinn, asks him to catch the killer. 

Adam once again uses his friends, Sophie, Dr. Hilton, and Miss Lemagne to help him. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters better in this second book. We learn more about their pasts and come to understand them better. 

By far my favorite aspect of the book were the historical elements. Author Gleason does a great job of describing events while still caring a story forward. I learned so much about the beginnings of the Civil War from this book. There were so many things I did not know and I was constantly doing further research to see if it was fact or fiction. Gleason describes these events in a way that I could easily picture Washington during this crucial time in our history. Washington then is not the Washington we see when we go there now and Gleason did a great job in placing me in the correct Washington. We are also shown this time period from the perspective of not only North and South, but race, and class. 

Murder in the Oval Library is a quick, engaging murder mystery. Though the setting of the beginning of the Civil War could be heavy, the story provides lots of information without weighing down or getting lost in a murder mystery. 

Murder in the Oval Library is the second in a series, and I do think it would be beneficial to read Murder in the Lincoln White House first, though it isn’t necessary. I love to get to know characters really well and so reading the first book gives more of that information, but it wasn’t necessary to the storyline.

My copy of Murder in the Oval Library was provided by Kensington Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!

There are many great books centered around the Civil War. As I read this book I realized that most of those books have taken place in the South. Have you read any great Civil War books that take place in the North?

Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen

B407BF7F-3936-4BA0-91F2-666B9F102EA8 When Harry’s wife dies, while he is buying a lottery ticket, he is overcome with grief and guilt. He leaves his job working for the Forest Service and finds his way to a remote wood in northeastern Pennsylvania. While finding himself among the trees his life becomes intwined with a young girl name Oriana and her mother Amanda who are also dealing with a loss. The characters find themselves involved in a real life fairy tale that changes their lives as only a fairy tale could. 

Harry’s Trees was often a heartbreaking experience. The grief felt when someone dies is devastating and Harry, Oriana and Amanda all experiences that grief and struggle to find their place in their new world. They each have different ways of dealing with their grief and they each learn to open their hearts once again to other people. Jon Cohen does a fantastic job in describing not only the grief and the emotional aspect of the book but also in describing the forest and the trees. Descriptions of trees can easily become boring in the wrong hands but Cohen made them interesting and in some ways the setting of the forest becomes a personalized character and not just a place for the story to take place.

This is a story about fairy tales, grief, books, quests, death, love, living life, riches, healing, regret, deliverance, magic. I’m not one to look for symbolism in books but there were so many times when I just couldn’t help myself thinking, “hmmm flowers opening, new beginnings”. There are many narrators in the book. Harry is the biggest narrator but I think every character gets an opportunity to narrate at some point. This enabled me to really look into a character and understand a bit about the decisions they made and the way they were. 

The book would be perfect if it wasn’t for the men in the town and their views of Amanda. Every man in town looked up to Amanda, but not in a motivational way but in a sexual way. I quickly grew tired of hearing every single man in town wanting Amanda. I think Amanda was suppose to be portrayed as a strong woman but by making her the object of every man’s sexual desire I felt like that became her purpose in the book. 

 Except for my problems with the Amanda character and storyline I loved everything about the book. It was slow paced, reflective, descriptive and character driven. 

This is a great book to discuss with others. So many themes and ideas to explore. For instance, even though I did not like the way Amanda was portrayed I have my suspicions as to why it works. 

Have you read Harry’s Trees? What would you love to discuss?

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye

5D658F4E-88DC-4F42-BF32-51164EE31524 The cover of The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye caught my eye and the story was just as catching.

The book begins with Alice, nicknamed Nobody, on a train to Portland with a gunshot wound. Max, a porter helps Alice and when they arrive in Portland takes her to the Paragon Hotel, the only all-black hotel in the city. As the novel unfolds we discover Alice’s past, why she fled Harlem with a gunshot wound and we learn about those Alice has befriended in the Paragon Hotel. 

I enjoyed The Paragon Hotel. The storyline goes back and forth between Alice’s past and her present. I found the back story of Alice growing up in Harlem an intriguing story and I was hooked wondering what happened that made her flee. I loved the unique characters that lived in the Paragon Hotel  and I found myself caught up in the struggles they each faced. I also learned a lot about the Ku Klux Klan in Portland during this time period of 1921. There was also a bit of a mystery as the characters living in the hotel search for a missing orphan child. I found Alice’s past with the Mafia and her present with the Ku Klux Klan fascinating as the author explored their differences and similarities. 

The Paragon Hotel was a quick, fast moving story and the time period of 1921 was well showcased. It was a fun read while also tackling issues of the time period and I learned more of what life was like during this time for people of different races and groups. 

My copy of The Paragon Hotel was given to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!

Murder in the Lincoln White House by C.M. Gleason

fd019c19-1e3b-483a-a293-50e153a7fbbb I have been reading a lot of mysteries set in England lately. So when Murder in the Lincoln White House by C.M. Gleason came across my path, I was excited to read one set in America. 

The story is set in Washington DC and begins on March 4, 1861, the day of Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration. Attempts on Lincoln’s life have been suspected and so security during the evenings ball is high. Despite this, a man is found stabbed to death in a room not far from the president. Adam Quinn, a friend of Lincoln’s from Kansas is asked by Lincoln to discreetly investigate. Quinn has no experience investigating a murder. But, he does have experience tracking animals which makes for a really interesting and new way of gathering clues in a mystery novel. I liked the character of Quinn and his frontier characteristics set among the political drama of Washington DC. 

I thought Murder in the Lincoln White House was a fun mystery with lots of suspects and motives. There was a great cast of diverse characters who kept things moving and had me guessing as to who committed the murder. I realized reading this book that I do not know much about America right before the Civil War when Lincoln is put into office. I enjoyed learning more about that history and really enjoyed the depictions of Washington during that time period. Who knew pigs roamed the streets! The city itself has come a long way. 

Murder in the Lincoln White House is the first book in a series and I’m looking forward to more books. The character of Quinn had events in his past that were referenced and I’m looking forward to learning more about those events and more about him as a character. I’m also looking forward to reading more about this time period and doing so in the setting of a mystery sounds like fun. 

My copy of Murder in the Lincoln White House was provided by Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!

The DASH Diet Mediterranean Solution by Marla Heller, MS, RD

507b3e93-3c5b-41d3-a132-467a685fd46b There are many diet and eating plans everywhere! I was looking for something that would help me with my weight and also improve my health as I’m getting older and my health is becoming a bigger concern to me. I also love food and don’t want to feel deprived. I was really intrigued by The DASH Diet Mediterranean Solution by Marla Heller, MS, RD. I have dappled a bit into Mediterranean meals and that is what grabbed my attention first. I had never heard of the DASH Diet and I can’t believe it. As I read this book I did more research into the DASH Diet and learned that it is the leading recommended way of eating by doctors and nutritionists as it reduces inflammation, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. 

The DASH Diet Mediterranean Solution did a great job providing information on both the DASH Diet and the Mediterranean Diet and the benefits from both. Heller explains the benefits of combining the two diets and how they compliment each other. I didn’t feel the information was over my head and I really learned a lot. Heller gives a great pep talk on why we should be healthy and it was just what I needed to start off the new year. There was also a lot of focus on what to include in eating instead of what to limit. I loved this and have not felt sad about all the things I shouldn’t be eating. Instead I’m able to just focus on what I get to include. The last half of the book includes eating plans, recipes and how to use the DASH Mediterranean diet in your everyday eating – even when eating out or at parties. 

I found this book really useful and manageable. The information was easy to understand and motivated me to be more aware of what I eat. I loved the eating plans and recipes and I’m excited to implement better eating into my new year. 

My copy of The DASH Diet Mediterranean Solution was given to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!