Monthly Archives: December 2016

Love’s Christmas Past by Susan M. Baganz, Jewell Tweedt, Rachel James

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Love's Christmas PastThree gifted women authors masterfully join their talents creating a collection of three short stories all in one cover in a historical setting all with realistic characters all hoping to find love this Christmas season.

Council Bluffs’ author, Jewell Tweedt created an entrancing novelette, Christmas Bells, with her protagonist, Connie Rose Simonson. Connie manages two cafes on in the frontier town of Omaha, Nebraska during November of 1878. Connie is a recent widow who is also raising her seven-year-old son, Andrew. She enjoys being extremely busy to the point of exhaustion.

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With an invitation to a birthday party where there happen to be puppies, the two look forward to Saturday.

Dr. James Connor also works until exhaustion. Being a lonely bachelor is easier if you are busy especially when you are the only doctor within a thirty-miles radius. For a booming frontier town, that is a lot of responsibility for one person.

Rachel James is the author of another story in this collection entitled, A Medieval Christmas.

Nola is experiencing morning sickness. Her mother, Lady Langley, logically has made this conclusion. As an unwed woman with a social standing, she realizes that she could marry a man beneath her station or become a member of a convent, hopefully, close enough to observe her child grow.

The Earl of Beauwater needs a wife. A man of distinction needs a companion and heirs. With his brother’s dying wish is for to marry, can he find a particular woman to fulfill his responsibilities and dreams?

In Fragile Blessings by Susan Baganz, Grant and Lily anticipate the birth of their first child. Unfortunately, the baby dies during its rough delivery. How does anyone heal from the death of a child?

Misfortune has company when there is a fire leaving three Catholic children orphans at a nearby farm.

Who would care for three children with an entirely different religion?
These three stories join in themes of Christmas and hope. All three have practical problems reflective of the time period and even today.

These three short novelettes have an intended audience of women who enjoy reading historical fiction, Christian novels, and romance. All are thoroughly engaging stories transporting the reader to another time and place.

Love’s Christmas Past is the perfect gift for any woman who enjoys historical Christian romances.

Pretty Paper by Willie Nelson

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Pretty PaperAn interesting story that Willie Nelson has put together about how he came to write Pretty Paper which is just one of his many country hits. Willie, along with song writing and singing, writes books, both fiction and non-fiction. And to be honest much like his music his books are really great.

The Whistler by John Grisham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The WhistlerI would say this is Grisham’s best but I believe I say that after each of his books that I read. But truthfully this is a tremendous read. He always does a great job writing about the courts and trials but this one like some others goes into a lot of detail about the happenings outside the courthouse.

Lessons Learned (A Back to Omaha Adventure) (Volume 1)Grace’s Secret by Jewell Tweedt

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Lessons Learned“…you know that you can’t change the past, only the here and now.”
Grace Freeport is a well-respected school teacher in the frontier town of Omaha. She thoroughly enjoys working with each of her thirteen students but her past still secretly haunts her.

On a typical November day in 1874, the school day begins as usual. However, the weather quickly changes with a little snow, and temperatures are plunging with the wind accelerating.

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For a classroom with children, the weather can be frightening, and when their teacher steps outside to access the weather, the impending storm is terrifying for everyone.

Fortunately yesterday, Grace had taken the precaution of running a clothesline from the school to her home. She is well aware of storms in the plains and knows how quickly a blizzard can become dangerous. Leaving a note of their location, Grace carefully led the children holding the line and each other, to the safety of her home where she knows there is plenty of wood and food.

Exiles: A Mystery in Paris (The Daniel Levin Mysteries Book 1) by Lawrence J. Epstein

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Exiles:  A Mystery in ParisAlthough the title of the novel by Lawrence J. Epstein reads Exiles: A Mystery in Paris, in fact there are several types of mysteries tackled on various levels. The readers are invited to explore these and see beyond the shadow of the murder case which reigns over the plot.

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It all unravels in Paris, 1925 – a period marked by recovery, vitality and hope. It is the hope of a fresh start that pushes Daniel Levin to leave his home and venture into a foreign land to try and accomplish his dream of becoming a writer. While he quickly befriends the right people and receives a lot of help from them, he still has to face a lot of obstacles alone. Some of these are regarding his literary carrier, some even threaten his life.
Soon after his arrival, a murder takes place in his vicinity. The audacity of the crime and the fame of the victim guarantee the headlines. While he begins as merely a keen observer, his status will shift as he will find himself ever more involved in the case. Meanwhile, he is also faced with the mystery of love and its many masks. Levin thus has the opportunity to discover a city like Paris through a woman. As a bonus, the pages of the book are spiced with the appearances of famous characters of the likes of Sylvia Beach, Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein, all of who are strongly portrayed and bring an extra layer of complexity to the novel.

Chaos: A Scarpetta Novel by Patricia Cornwell

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

ChaosBestselling author Patricia Cornwell’s beloved medical examiner Kay Scarpetta is faced with one of her most bizarre cases yet. She and her investigative partner, Pete Marino must solve the mystery.

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On an unusually hot autumn night in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Kay and Pete are called to the scene of a dead bicyclist. The young woman appears to have been struck by lightning, but the strange thing is that there were no storms that night or lightning strikes at the time of her death. She seems to have been attacked mysteriously with super human force.

Walking the Dead by Heather Graham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Walking the DeadThis starts in Switzerland in 1816 when a group of well-known artists gather at the castle of a friend. It is to be a sociable, maybe some working, time for folks like Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and Claire Godwin. Henry Hubert was the host and at the end of the little get-together he announces that he too is an artist. He also announces that he is going to begin “painting with blood” to hopefully cover much of the dark despair of the castle.

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The story then moves to the present day and is basically located in New Orleans where a family has been found slain. It was a man, his wife, her mother, father, and her aunt. They are strewn through the house and appear to be stabbed and sliced up with a knife and possibly a sword.

Off the Hook: A Christmas Ornament Adventure by John Arvai III

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Off the Hook:  A Christmas Ornament AdventureWhy do we have ornaments on a Christmas tree?

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Is the reason decoration? Many trees combine ornaments given as remembrances of family members or memorable events.

Would you be surprised to discover that there is a purpose for the decorations, probably one that has been kept a secret from you?

On Christmas Eve, while most people are asleep and dreaming, each ornament diligently goes to work. It is the ornaments responsibility to fix the tree lights, tighten screws on the tree stand, and even guard the cookies and milk from pets. This annual event requires each decoration to be “off the hook.”

The star on the top of your tree is different and not an ornament. All the ornaments cooperatively work together to activate the star which is a location transmitter lighting each rooftop to be seen only by Santa.

This year the Thompson family has a problem. They just don’t know that it exists. During their annual Christmas Eve party, the family cat somehow toppled the star, falling into an empty gift bag which Aunt Connie brought to her home.

Once she discovers the star, she believes it is a gift to decorate one of her many trees. What will happen to the Thompson children when Santa is missing their home? Without a location transmitter, how will their home be found?

How can their Christmas be saved?

How can the family’s ornaments possibly save Christmas for the children?

Off the Hook is a wonderfully creative story with the illustrations perfectly matching the text into a logical and well-organized original Christmas story for children of all ages. Numerous themes surround this short book such as cooperation, friendship, prejudice, stereotypes, diligence and doing not what is easiest, but what is the right thing.

Surprisingly, each ornament is an independent character with an individual personality humanizing each and even revealing a little of every person’s hidden prejudices and biases.

The colorful illustrations perfectly match the text entrancing readers from as young as 2 to 102 focusing on the individual ornaments and the children.

When not being a US Army veteran, an IT professional, husband, and father of three children, the author enjoys hockey and using his imagination to create a beautifully original story.

This enchanting Christmas novel is available as an e-book or a paperback.
Off the Hook is a wonderful Christmas story that will endure the test of time becoming a new family traditional story to be shared with generations.

A Glitch in the System by Adam Aust

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

A Glitch in the SystemDebuting as a compelling and uncompromisingly good read, Adam Aust’s A Glitch in the System brings readers the forefront of the thriller genre with its riveting merging of sex, mystery and legal intrigue that has a dominatrix racing against time and the odds to solve an engulfing mystery that is completely destroying her life.

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In a particularly fascinating and intriguingly creative narrative, author Aust treats his readers to a gripper of a story that successfully flows with the spine tingling continuity similar to other well-known thriller writers like John Grisham. The story is steeped in a plot infused with cleverly planned and flowing twists that lend to this being an adventurously scintillating read that you want to finish in one sitting.