Book Review/Recommendation: Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

One recent Saturday I spent almost the entire day under a warm blanket with chocolate chip cookies dipped in Nutella and read Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz. It was very enjoyable, not only because it was the most relaxed I had been in a long time and I had chocolate, but because the book was such a good one.

My husband recommended the book so I was a bit leery at first. We don’t always like the same books, but lately, he’s been suggesting ones I have enjoyed, including the Walt Longmire Series by Craig Johnson. I’m also reading my first Donald Westlake book, Call Me A Cab, at his suggestion.

First, a little bit about Moriarty. For those familiar with Sherlock Holmes books and movies, you will recognize that name. The book opens, though, with Professor James Moriarty having died at Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland, which leaves the reader wondering about the title of the book.

The main characters of the book are Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase and Inspector Athelney Jones.

The description of the book: Sherlock Holmes is dead.

Days after Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty fall to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls, Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase arrives from New York. The death of Moriarty has created a poisonous vacuum which has been swiftly filled by a fiendish new criminal mastermind. Ably assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones, a devoted student of Holmes’s methods of investigation and deduction, Chase must hunt down this shadowy figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, a man determined to engulf London in a tide of murder and menace.

The game is afoot . . .

My view: The book is written like an old-fashioned Sherlock Holmes book so don’t expect there to be modern overdone descriptions of characters of scenes. For the most part the book is a fast paced, dialogue heavy and straight forward presentation. The focus is on the story, not the characters necessarily.

Horowitz takes the reader down into a dark world of crime, twisting around and around until there is a point you’re not sure who is who. Even though I tried to guess the ending and was right on one theory, the way Horowitz brought the story to its finality was still satisfying and fascinating. I honestly couldn’t put the book down once I got myself snuggled in that Saturday afternoon under the covers, and placed other books I was reading aside so I could finish it. I also stopped feeding my children and taking a shower, but that’s an entirely different issue. I’m kidding, of course. I took a shower. I’m not a monster.

Reading the book has encouraged me to move on to Horowitz’s other Sherlock Holmes book The House of Silk which was actually his first Sherlock Holmes-related book.

The House of Silk was the first book authorized as a new Sherlock Holmes novel by the Arthur Conan Doyle in 125-years.

Confession time: I have not actually read any original Sherlock Holmes books. My husband is a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, however, and we have watched many shows based on the books together.

How about you? Are you a big Sherlock Holmes fan? Have you read all of Arthur Conan Doyle’s books?

Book Review His Road to Redemption by Lisa Jordan

Book title: His Road to Redemption

Author: Lisa Jordan

Genre: Inspirational Romance

Published by: Love Inspired

 

Description:

A veteran in need of a fresh start
will get more than he bargained for…

Veteran Micah Holland’s scars go deeper than anyone knows. An inheritance from his mentor could be a new beginning—if he shares the inherited goat farm with fiercely independent Paige Watson. Now the only way they can keep the farm is to work together. But first Micah must prove he’s a changed man to keep his dream and the woman he’s falling for.

My review: When you read a lot of romance books, they can sometimes become stale and predictable (though Love Inspired books are not usually this way) so when I picked up His Road to Redemption, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised at the way this story was laid out and the unique characters Lisa created. I absolutely loved Micah and his complexity. I loved his tenderness, hidden sometimes under a tough veneer, and I loved how he worked through the challenges of his life without being overly dramatic about it all.

 

When a character with a physical challenge is written about in some books, too much attention is focused on that challenge. In this book, Micah’s physical challenge was mentioned once or twice but didn’t need to be reiterated several times. This made his injury seem normal and part of his every day, which it was. Yes, he was injured at war, but he moved forward through his life and didn’t let it stop him from reaching his goals. Very often, an author tries too hard to push the idea of inclusivity instead of simply making the challenge part of who the person is.

 

After reading this book I will definitely be looking for more Love Inspired books, but especially more by Lisa Jordan. As someone who has met Lisa (but who was not asked to read or give a review of this book), I can tell you that her kind, caring and faith-filled personality comes across in this book. When I put it down, I not only felt good inside but satisfied and for a reader, a satisfying read is everything.

Book Review: Journey to ChiYah by Kimberly Russell. A deeply allegorical journey of our walk with Christ.

Book Title: Journey to ChiYah

Author: Kimberly Russell

Genre: Christian fiction/Christian fantasy

Goodreads Description: JADE PEPPERDINE HAS A PROBLEM

Her life is crumbling beneath the weight of the past, events of the present, and fears for her future. Things need to change, but she doesn’t know where to start.Answers come in the form of an unexpected opportunity when Jade finds herself stuck in a mythical land. She meets Mayor Dudley, who insinuates she is emotionally broken and in need of repair … a fact she’d just as soon ignore. He offers to help her get home if she is willing to face her issues through a process of restoration. Frightened and skeptical yet out of options, Jade grudgingly agrees. And soon figures out that change is a journey, not a destination.Come along on the adventure of a lifetime, and maybe you’ll find someone you never knew you lost: Yourself. 

Excerpt from the author (Thank you, Kim!):

Abaddon’s eyes darkened black like coal. “My idea is simple. You’ve got a gal coming in soon that I think will be perfect for this experiment.” He clucked his tongue. “Thirtyish, a bit, chubby, works in a library. Same tired scenario as the others. Past issues affecting her present. Fear and insecurities. Blah, blah, blah.”

Watch it. She’s one of mine.”

Abaddon’s mouth tightened. “Aren’t they all? Just send her off to gather her journey relics like always, but if I can get them away from her, she stays with me, and I get the Avnet, too.”

Mayor grunted in distaste. No wonder his nemesis’ name meant destruction in Hebrew. He opened his mouth to put the rogue in his place then hesitated. Maybe he could use Abaddon’s plan against him and teach him a lesson he wouldn’t soon forget. A deterrent against future complications.

But at what price? Did he really want to potentially position one of his own in harm’s way? No, but assigning his top emissaries to the case would keep her safe. The unsuspecting woman would be fine, and Abaddon would get what he so richly deserved. And it wouldn’t be the Avnet.

Mayor pushed to his feet. “Fine. Do what you have to.” He whirled and threw a scowl over his shoulder, “But you cannot hurt her. I’m warning you.”

“Oh, I won’t.” Abaddon shot him an evil leer. “Not much, anyway.”

My Review: 5 starts out of 5



Some who read the title of the book will be perplexed and think, “I don’t think this is the book for me,” but they would be wrong. This is a book for everyone.

The book is “fantasy”, I suppose you might say, but it is also deeply allegorical to our journey through life and especially our journey with God and Christ.

This book will transport you to a world of restoration, healing, redemption, and personal revision. It will remind you that we do not merely war against flesh and blood, but “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

The book takes the reader on a fantastical journey with Jade Pepperdine, a 30-something woman who has faced her fair share of heartache, rejection, and flattened self-worth.

Hook yourself in, readers. This is a work of fiction but for many it will be a hard dose of reality wrapped up in a gentle embrace.

After an accident tosses Jade, quite literally, upside down, she finds herself in a mystical land, which she at first believes is part of a dream. She soon learns that ChiYah is very real indeed. A group of five eccentric helpers come alongside her to help her battle her way through the various dangers of ChiYah to reach her personal healing.

But reaching restoration won’t come easy for Jade. She’s agreed to the quest Mayor Dudley has offered to her, albeit grudgingly, so she can go back to her reality in “the real world” working at a library and fending off her overly critical mother. Now she has to sidestep the traps along the way, including unassuming attacks from a mysterious stranger who hopes to cause her to stumble and come work for him instead.

Journey to ChiYah is a book that will have you looking inside yourself, maybe not liking what you see, and then considering taking your own quest to make peace with every part of you  — the happy parts, the grumpy parts, the sometimes unreasonable parts, the parts that have been hurt, the parts that have been rejected, the parts that still have hope left in them.

Russell is a talented writer who uses well-written, engaging fiction laced with humor, well thought out dialogue, and entertaining characters to drive her point home. She uses fiction and prose to touch on so many issues we frail humans deal with, including anxiety, anger, unforgiveness, self-deprecating behavior, distrust, insecurity, a critical spirit.

Most of all, though, she uses her talent to point us to the only one who can heal us of the issues that threaten our joy — a Heavenly Father who wants to take us on a journey that might seem difficult but in the end will lead us into a meadow of peace, even with the chaos of life swirls around us.

Book Review: In Sheeps Clothing by Pegg Thomas

Book and author: In Sheeps Clothing by Pegg Thomas

Publisher: Spinner of Yarns Publishing

Genre: Christian Fiction

Description:

Yarrow Fenn, the talented spinster sister, was passed over when her intended walked out on her years before. She’s content with her life – for the most part – until Peter Maltby arrives in town. A journeyman fuller, Peter comes to Milford, Connecticut, not to woo the young women, but to rise to the rank of master fuller and return to Boston for some unfinished business. When their lives intersect over an orphan lamb, sparks are kindled. But their budding romance will have to survive revealed secrets when someone else shows up in Milford.

My Review:

This read was a delightful, short, and sweet journey into the past. I am not someone who usually reads historical fiction but the cover and title caught my eye and I gave it a chance. The story flowed easily and the writing was very good. The book is very short and I could have done with a little more about both characters, but that’s only because I really enjoyed learning about them both. I will definitely be looking up more books by Pegg.

Book Review: Avoiding Marriage by Karin Beery

Avoiding Marriage by Karin Beery

Publisher:  EABooks Publishing 

Description:

Two years ago, Jessica Miller made a mess of her already confusing life. Now, she’s back in Boyne Heights, and she’s determined to fix her reputation. She can’t seem to avoid the past that haunts her, but that’s the joy of small-town life—word spreads and people remember. Intent on her mission, however, she faces her past head-on, taking a job with her ex-boyfriend while avoiding her grandmother’s attempts to find her a new one.

My Review:

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book, which I appreciated because I might not have picked it up on my own. It was the first time I’d read anything by this author so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I don’t usually read a ton of light romances or novellas but apparently, I am missing out because I really enjoyed this one. In fact, I enjoyed the characters so much that my only complaint is that the book wasn’t long enough. I know there are other books with these characters, however, so I am looking forward to reading more about them in the future.

Part of me felt, at first, that the premise was a little unrealistic – the idea of a young woman going to work for her ex-boyfriend who is now married, but then I thought about all the people around me who are doing similar things. I mean I even know of an actor whose ex-wife produces movies with him. What this book reminded me was that people move on, heal, and grow in many different ways so even if I wouldn’t be comfortable with that, there are plenty of people who are and have been.

The main character’s (Jessica’s) life was very relatable to me. To some, it may have seemed she had more on her than “real” people would, in regards to her family’s situation, but in my world, families are messy. There are divorces and hurt feelings and addictions and recovering addicts, etc. I like that Karin isn’t afraid to face those issues head-on. In the midst of all of Jessica’s struggles is the chance for love and that brings lighter and sweeter moments to the story.

This is a quick read for an avid reader, which is nice because then you can move on to Ashley’s story (which occurs before this one) in Practically Married or other books by Karin.

I received a copy of Practically Married from the author. This in no way affects my review. All opinions are my own.

Favorite Books Read in 2020

I thought about sharing a list of the books I read this year, but I share an Amazon and Goodreads account with my mom (it makes it easier for me to add books to her Kindle for her) and she read a lot more books than me so sifting through what she read and what I read was a little overwhelming. My Kindle list also includes books from my husband’s account and he’s also read a lot more books than I have this year (as he always does.)

I’ve been lesson planning for when school starts for the kids next week so I didn’t have time to sit and figure out what I read, what she read, and what he read. I do know she read around 200 this year (some of them short, some of them awful Kindle books, poor lady) on her Kindle and he read 80 on his Kindle. They both also read a few hard copies of books.

Since I didn’t want to try to make a list of all the books I read, which would have been short (maybe 20), I thought I’d list some of my favorites of what I read this year instead.

My favorite reads this year were:

A Long Time Comin’ by Robin W. Pearson

Lead Me Home by Amy K. Sorrells

Falling Home by Karen White

About Your Father And Other Celebrities I Have Known by Peggy Rowe (the only non-fiction book I read all the way through.)

A Longmire Mystery: The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish by Bethany Turner.

The Dead Don’t Dance by Charles Martin


Honorable Mentions:

Borders of the Heart Chris Fabry

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

Silas Marner by George Elliot

The Knife Slipped by Earl Stanley Gardner

A Cord of Three Strands by Christy Distler

I know a lot of readers announce a reading goal for the new year, but I find goals like that distract me from simply enjoying reading. I guess I could set my goal at 20 and see what happens, but . . . that just sounds so organized, so I don’t think I’ll really set that as my goal. Pretend I did, though, so I fit in with all the book bloggers of the world.

So how about you? What were some of your favorite reads of 2020? Let me know in the comments.

Book Review: Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish by Bethany Turner

Some books ooze the personality of the author and I think Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish is one of those books — if Bethany Turner’s social media accounts are any indication of what a fun, hilarious person she is in real life — and I think they are.

First the Goodreads description for the book:

Celebrity chef Maxwell Cavanaugh is known for many things: his multiple Michelin stars, his top-rated Culinary Channel show To the Max, and most of all his horrible temper. Hadley Beckett, host of the Culinary Channel’s other top-rated show, At Home with Hadley, is beloved for her Southern charm and for making her viewers feel like family.

When Max experiences a very public temper tantrum, he’s sent packing to get his life in order. When he returns, career in shambles, his only chance to get back on TV and in the public’s good graces is to work alongside Hadley.

As these polar-opposite celeb chefs begin to peel away the layers of public persona and reputation, they will not only discover the key ingredients for getting along, but also learn the secret recipe for unexpected forgiveness . . . and maybe even love. In the meantime, hide the knives.

Fan-favorite Bethany Turner serves up a heaping helping of humor and romance with this thoroughly modern story centered on cooking, enemies, and second chances.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed the lighthearted moments woven among some tender, difficult memories and realities for the main characters — Hadley Becket and Max Cavanaugh, both high-profile chefs. Hadley was definitely the one with more of a sense of humor, while Max was more of the “grump”. As you read you realize that some of Hadley’s humor is to cover insecurities and hurts and that Max’s grouchy tendancies are for the same reasons. Attempts to cover flaws with their moods aren’t the only similarities the pair have, of course, something readers learn as the book continues.

I’m always impressed with Bethany’s way with words. She is a master of using humor, cultural references, and yet, still keeps her fiction free of swearing, sex, or violence.

She’s also a master at descriptions. One of my favorite descriptions in this book was how Hadley described the way Max’s shirt fit him: “The T-shirt sleeves strained just slightly to their resting point mid-way down his bicep, and with his arms crossed over his chest, as they were now, you could almost hear an audible sigh from the front of the shirt, as it was allowed a moment to relax from the tightness that Max’s well-toned chest and shoulders usually created.”

These days we need something light and romantic to distract us and Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish is the perfect way to do that. Find out more about Bethany on her Instagram and Facebook accounts or her website: http://seebethanywrite.com/

Book review: A Cord of Three Strands, historical fiction

Book reviews won’t necessarily be a regular feature here but I’ve read a couple I’ve liked lately and wanted to share in case others are looking for a good distraction. Plus I “met” this author online and thought it would be cool to help her promote her first book. I mean she’s from Pennsylvania and the book takes place in Pennsylvania so she must be cool, right?

First, the Goodreads description of the book:

As 1756 dawns, Isaac Lukens leaves the Pennsylvania wilderness after two years with the Lenape people. He’s failed to find the families of his birth parents, a French trader and a Lenape woman. Worse, the tribe he’s lived with, having rejected his peacemaking efforts, now ravages frontier settlements in retaliation. When he arrives in the Quaker community where he was reared, questions taunt him: Who is he—white man or Lenape? And where does he belong?

Elisabeth Alden, Isaac’s dearest childhood friend, is left to tend her young siblings alone upon her father’s death. Despite Isaac’s promise to care for her and the children, she battles resentment toward him for having left, while an unspeakable tragedy and her discordant courtship with a prominent Philadelphian weigh on her as well.

Elisabeth must marry or lose guardianship of her siblings, and her options threaten the life with her and the children that Isaac has come to love. Faced with Elisabeth’s hesitancy to marry, the prospect of finding his family at last, and the opportunity to assist in the peace process between Pennsylvania and its Indian tribes, Isaac must determine where—and to whom—the Almighty has called him

My review:

To be honest, the prologue to this book made me think I might not enjoy it because the language seemed a little old fashioned. The important words in the previous sentence? Seemed and at first. Because by chapter 1 I realized the use of older language was a way to bring me closer to understanding the characters and their way of life. It wasn’t long before beginning it that I was hooked on the book and having a hard time putting it down. I was on the edge of my seat throughout, wondering what trial or triumph might face the main characters, Isaac and Elisabeth, next.

 This book is a romance in some ways, yes, but it is such a sweet, gradual romance that the reader isn’t overwhelmed with sappiness and drama. Much of the romantic nature of the story is over shadowed by the compelling story of the Lenape people through the eyes of Isaac and the story of the Quakers through both Isaac and Elisabeth’s eyes. This isn’t one of those romantic stories where romance is the main focus. Yes, love is the main thread that holds the characters and the story together but it is a love that is deeper than a physical and romantic attraction. It is a spiritual love and an emotional one.

From the beginning of this book I fell in love with the characters,  my heart broke for their trials, and my eyes were opened to the struggles faced by this nation’s early settlers and the natives who lived on the land before the settlers ever arrived. I literally wanted to crawl inside the book at times and hug Elisabeth close and then take her away from a world that could be so cruel in the early years of our nation’s founding.

I was never sure what adventure was coming next for Isaac and Elisabeth and I loved that. It kept me turning pages (and kept me up too late at some nights). As a Christian I don’t believe in fate so in this case I believe it was divine guidance that led me to discover Christy’s book. In the first few pages Christy mentioned a town near where I grew up and now live, which hooked me on the book even more.

I later discovered the author lives in the same state and holds the same love for this state’s local and Native American history in the same way I do. This is Christy’s first book, but I expect to see many more from her in the future and I’m really looking forward to them.

If you’re not already a fan of historical fiction, this book will make you one. She could use some reviews for the book to get it some more attention so if you read it and like it, please leave her a review on Amazon.

Christy is also an editor (copy editing, content editing, line editing, proofreading, manuscript review) and you can find more information about that part of her life HERE.