Sunday, February 23, 2020

Murder in the Mystery Suite

Author: Ellery Adams
Genre:  Mystery
Length: 277 pages (paperback)

Rating: 4 out of 5

Jane Steward manages Storyton Hall, a resort catering to book lovers in the rolling hills of western Virginia.  Jane needs to determine a way to drive additional funds as the staff roof needs repairs, the orchard needs pruning, and a variety of other items need attention.  After gaining inspiration from a book, she decides to host a Murder and Mayhem Week at the resort.  This will include a variety of events including a ball, role- playing and fantasy crime solving.

The event starts off with great success!  Guests arrive in full character.  They are actively participating from the moment they arrive.

Guests are excited to participate in the scavenger hunt.  Unknown to Jane, her twin sons are bribed by Felix Hampden to help him win the scavenger hunt.  When he wins a valuable book, several other guests approach him.  The next thing Jane knows, Felix is found dead and her week turns into a real mystery to solve!

This cozy mystery was a quick and easy read.  I was able to dive in right away and be brought into the story.  I appreciate that it didn't have lots of romance so that I could focus on the mystery myself.

This is the first book in a series.  I am sure some of my unanswered questions will be answered in the next few books.  However, unless I come across these books, I do not plan to actively search for them. 

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Triangles of Black: Once in a Thousand Years

Author: Ilona Ciller
Genre:  Science Fiction
Length: 361 pages (paperback)

Rating: 3 out of 5

I received a copy of Triangles of Black: Once in a Thousand Years in exchange for an honest review.

Sophie knows what she experienced.  She shares with Troy, her brother, who believes it is all in her mind.  He sets up an appointment with a counselor because he is concerned about her.  However, once Troy has his own experience, Sophie, Tracy (Sophie's friend) and Troy try to understand what is happening.

In the meantime, Troy finally lands a job as a farmhand.  Ironically, the Ministry of Power is interested in why the farm is not using electricity and how it is generating power.  This means Troy unexpectedly finds himself in the line of fire and must give up his job.

Troy, Sophie and Tracy are beginning to uncover a long forgotten world of magic.  They are being guided by three magical beings who are also trying to protect them as their lives are in increasing amounts of danger.

The story covers a variety of elements from magic, friendship, espionage, and corporate greed to name a few.  I found a few moments where I actually was laughing out loud.

The book itself would benefit from additional editing.  There were times when I found myself having to go back a few pages as the author had jumped scenes without a distinct break.  There were also times where the flow didn't make sense as sentences weren't complete.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and am looking forward to the next in the series.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Chinese Education in Singapore

Author: Zhang Zhixiong
Genre: Nonfiction
Length: 142 pages (paperback)

Rating: 3 out of 5

When this book crossed my path, I opted to grab it.  The education system in China and Singapore is not something that I would naturally dive into.

Having spent time in Dongguan for work, I had a reference point for some of the items in the book.  However, my reference point is very recent history and not the level that this book covers.

I like how the author began by sharing the cultural history.  I was fascinated by the early migration policies.  While I knew that Singapore had been a colony, I was still amazed to learn that most of the early schools were taught mainly in English.

If you are interested in this topic, then this book will be a valuable read. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Twelve Days of Christmas

Genre:  Holiday, Romance
Length: 212 pages (paperback)

Rating: 4 out of 5

Julia is bubbly and friendly while her neighbor Cain keeps to himself.  They are clearly opposites in every way.  When Julia confides in her best friend that Cain stole her newspaper, she decides to conduct a "kill him with kindness" experiment which she blogs about as a finalist for a new career.

She decides to make an effort to run into Cain every day in order to be nice to him.  Little things like propping his newspaper by his door and prepaying for his coffee appear to hit his irritation point.  She begins to call him "Ebenezer" on her blog.  Her readers are initially mixed on encouraging her to continue her experiment to saying he won't change.  Slowly Cain begins to open up and Julia feels herself doing the same.

The center of this story is questioning whether or not being kind to someone can have an impact on their life and those around them.

Rather predictable?  yes.  Overly cheesy?  Absolutely!  However, it's a fun and quick holiday read.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

A Charming Nightmare

Author: Marie Kammerer Franke
Genre:  Science Fiction, Fantasy
Length: 376 pages (paperback)
Sensitive Content: Violence, Sexual
Rating:  2 out of 5

Aylin wakes up, not certain what has happened.  She is a captive of an individual that is not quite human.  They are on the run, not certain what she is running from, not certain where she is.

She learns from Catch that she is from the past, roughly 40,000 years.  The Earth ended with a few years of her wedding.  A group of humans were saved, she wasn't one of them.  He was sent back to obtain an original human to help obtain a cure to a virus that is impacting the evolved humans, who are dying off fast.

She's swept into a whirlwind of activity from being a lab rat to constant fighting with Catch to causing issues for Elpis (the planet she is now on).  She's found that she's actually uncovering something much deeper than just the virus.

The story was difficult to follow.  Franke shifted from the distant past to the present to the recent past.  While she said she was inspired by Doctor Who, Bill Nye, Cosmos and a few other shows and books, all that I love, it was often difficult to follow the train of thought.

I honestly had a hard time reading this book due to all of the grammar and spelling issues.  Sentences are hard to follow as words appear to be missing.  Their/they're/there as well as your/you're are used as if they are the same.  Clearly this book needed an editor's or publisher's review.

This is the first of four books in her series.  I will not be picking up any of the others.

Who Gives A Crap

So...not a traditional review, but one that the family thought would be fun given that it is toilet "paper" and books are written on paper...

We have spent the last few years being aware of what we consume (bring into the house, not what just what we eat) and the longer term impact on the environment.  I have also instituted a guideline that when something comes into the house, something else needs to exit.  So, if a new pair of shoes comes in, an old pair needs to go out.  While our recycling garbage can volume has increased, we are down to one bag of actual garbage a week (sometimes every two weeks).

Now for our Who Gives a Crap review!

I came across this toilet paper on Pinterest.  I definitely didn't want the family towels (yes, totally gross), but I wanted to move away from the large sizes that we purchase at Costco and all of the waste that goes along with it.  I also wanted something that is kinder to the environment.  Along came Who Gives a Crap.  I love that it is made with bamboo and not trees.  I am also willing to pay a little more as they donate 50% of the profits to help build toilets.  I really like the fact that it is shipped to the house and I don't have to run out to get it and lug it home.  (OK, so maybe this one isn't the most environmentally friendly.)  It's soft and has no dyes!

If you are interested in trying it out, feel free to use our referral link to obtain $10 off your purchase (valid through March 2020).

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Girls' Guide to Wine

Author: Susy Atkins
Genre: Wine
Length: 144 pages (paperback)

Rating: 3 out of 5

A guide to wine, not to be taken seriously!  This fun little book is written by Susy Atkins, a wine editor.  In other words, someone who actually knows more about wine than me.

The author unapologetically dives into today's stereotypes of people who buy which types of wine.  She also shares some tips about buying wine online, by mail or at the store (clearly dating this book to its publish date of 2002).  I think my favorite part; buying your favorite bottle when no one will judge you and stay in to enjoy your evening.

The author intentionally doesn't take herself, or this topic, too seriously.  If you are looking for a true guide to wine, this isn't your book.  However, if you're looking for a quick read that will make you laugh, grab the book...and a bottle of your favorite wine...and enjoy!