Book Reviews – My Opinion

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book stack

I have been reviewing books since 2011. Most of them are sent to me, so for a reader, being paid in books is basically skipping the step between paycheck and going to the bookstore. Win/win in my estimation.

As a writer, I know how difficult it is to put words on paper. Especially words that someone else will read and love as passionately as I do. Enough to have them want to tell other people to read it. That means more than the writer’s family  and friends read whatever it is that is being written. It can be is a  short story, a book or an article.

Reviewers have the task of reading a book and sharing his or her thoughts with as many people as possible. I do not take this task lightly. But always keep in mind – it is only my opinion, I book I love could be a book you hate.

First and foremost, I read every book I am given or request from an author from sites such as Goodreads. I give it as much attention as I would the latest Stephen King or Jodi Picoult novel. Then I usually wait a day or two to think about the subtle aspects as well as my overall opinions.

I look at plot, characterization and overall fit to the genre it is written in. It is unfair to judge a perfectly written cozy novel against a highly literary novel. That is like comparing a lion to a giraffe. I like both of them yet the lion can’t imagine to eat leaves from the top of the tree while standing on the ground, it just isn’t made that way.

Most of the places I post my reviews, with the exception of my two blogs (this one and writeknit.wordpress.com – I know I should combine them, but need to be more blog smart), use a star rating system. So here is how I decide how many stars a review gets:

5 star

5 Star – I can’t put this book down. When I am doing something else it is calling to me. I have to chat about it to people at work and my long-suffering family. This is a great book in my world. I LOVE this book and want everyone to read it.

4 star

4 Star – This is a really good book. I like it a lot. But I can go a day without reading it if I have something else that has to be written/read. It is interesting and I’ve enjoyed it. Then only thing keeping this from the 5 star is I only like it or love it like a distant relative, not my kids. (I don’t LOVE it – see above).

3 star

3 Star – Just an ok book. Not necessarily a bad book, just not outstanding. There might be plot holes. For example, one I read didn’t follow through with a character, she was in it only when it helped the main character without explanation as to where she had been during other critical times when a child could not have been left alone.

There could be crazy, impossible twists that make a reader feel cheated because you could never have known or seen the end coming. Give me a fighting chance to figure it out!

Poor grammar and sentence structure make me nuts. Even if the story and characters are good and I have to read a sentence over and over to figure out what the author is trying to tell me, it is too frustrating as a reader to slog through page after page of this. I am not talking to literary – that is not as fast a read, but it is a beautiful read. BIG difference in my opinion.

bored

1 & 2 Star  – I have only given one of these in the last 6 years. It was a horrid book with characters that were impossible to connect with and I absolutely hated them in the end. It was poorly written with misspellings and strange attempts at American “sayings” obviously written by someone not clear on the language. I could not give it less than 1 Star – so that is what it got from me.

So if you see any of my reviews on Goodreads, Barnes and Nobel, Amazon & Amazon UK you will have an idea about what I was thinking when I gave the book the number of stars that I did. All of these reviews are under “Laura Hartman”.

Other places where I do not give a “star rating” but have links to my blogs are Instagram (lmh172) & Pinterest (writeknit).

Writing is hard work. I have nothing but the utmost respect for authors and books. My goal is to share good books with as many people as I can. Hopefully one of the readers of my reviews will find a new author they haven’t heard of before or try and new genre they we’re sure they would like. If that happens, I am happy and feel I have done my job as a reviewer.

(all images in this post were found on Google images)

the KWH iPad Show #13 💜 my heartfelt plea for HPP

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knitting with heart

frowning Mac computer

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Hello & Welcome
to my 13th episode of the
KWH iPad Show!

Today’s feature is a petition in support of
more widespread awareness of the debilitating
disease that is Hypophosphatasia aka HPP ♥

NOTE: some of the images in this post were
found via facebook or google images..

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Link to HPP online petition. Click image to visit the HPP online petition.

What is HPP and why should I care?
What does HPP have to do with this knitting blog?
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HPP is an ultra-rare genetic bone/muscle disease. People with HPP are missing the enzyme required for growing healthy, strong bones. My husband has lived an active life, but was born with this debilitatingly degenerative disease. The pain it inflicts is continual and increasingly extreme. It has forced him to give up a lot—confining him to crutches throughout the past 3 years. Yet he refuses to give in by maintaining a spirited life that is gracious, kind, loving, intelligent, humble…

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Book Review: The Koala of Death (spoiler alert – the koala is innocent!!)

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Ck out my latest book review.

writeknit

The Koala of Death

By Betty Webb

266 pages

Trouble is afoot for the keepers at Gunn Zoo. Teddy Bentley, one of the zoo keepers, finds one of her coworkers floating outside her houseboat. The corpse, Koala Kate, was the face of Gunn Zoo to locals because she appeared on a TV show and published a cute blog about life at the zoo.

Police quickly arrest Outback Bill, another one of the keepers. He insists on his innocence, and it appears Teddy is the only one that believes him. That is until there is another murder at Gunn Landing Harbor. This victim was a close friend of Kate, even though they seemed like an unlikely pair.

Joe Rejas, Teddy’s boyfriend and local sheriff, wants her to keep her nose out of the investigation. Especially after two murders steps away from her boat. Kate had secrets and one of them must…

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Book Review: The Splintered Paddle – Heart Pounding Hawaiian Mystery

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The Splintered Paddle – great book. See my review here and on my other blog: writeknit.wordpress.com

writeknit

splintered paddle

The Splintered Paddle

By Mark Troy

301 pages

Ava Rome can’t help everyone, but she tries. As a Private Investigator on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu, she takes the Law of the Splintered Paddle seriously and tries to live by it. According to the Honolulu Police Department website, the Law was “… decreed by Kamehameha I, circa 1782, to protect travelers from wanton attack” (http://www.honolulupd.org/department/index.php?page=ourbadge).

When Jenny Mordan, a well-known working girl, seeks out Ava’s protection she doesn’t hesitate or judge her lifestyle even though she doesn’t necessarily agree with it. Jenny is being blackmailed by a cop who thinks he is above the law so Ava takes the case. Unfortunately, this cop has more going on than his underhanded dealings with Jenny. The deeper Ava gets into the case, she realizes that Jenny’s life is at stake and maybe her own.

Enter a Goth want-to-be teenager of…

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Book Review: Deeper Than The Grave

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Excellent Mystery – had to post on both my blogs!

writeknit

Deeper Than The Grave (A Tai Randolph Mystery)

By Tina Whittle

294 PagesDeeper Than The Grave

Tai Randolph is the owner of a gun shop in Atlanta that specializes in Civil War re-enactment relics along with run-of-the-mill firearms and ammo. Formerly owned by her Uncle Dexter, Tai has organized the inventory and has settled in, making the business profitable in the process.

Her boyfriend, Trey Seaver, has beefed up security for the shop. As a corporate security agent, and former FBI agent, he is obsessed with keeping Tai safe. She finds his security measures equally aggravating and endearing, but thinks he has crossed the line due to problems he has had in the past, including an accident, that has left him with a brain injury.

Tai admits the security is good to have around the shop as there have been several times her system has detected attempted breaches. She suspects the neighboring business…

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Book Review: Desert Rage by Betty Webb – I can’t wait to read the rest of her books!

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Fabulous book!

writeknit

Desert Rage (A Lena Jones Mystery)

By Betty WebbDesertRageAmazon-330

Private Investigator Lena Jones is summoned to the home of a powerful, demanding Congresswoman Juliana Thorsson. Lena is willing to meet with her, but remains skeptical that she could stand this ambitious woman long enough to work the case no matter what it is. That is until she hears the details of the job Thorsson needs done.

A 14-year-old girl and her boyfriend have admitted that they brutally murdered the girl’s family. Her father, mother and 10-year-old brother were slain while eating lunch in their expensive Scottsdale home. After confessing to the crime, both teens have refused to talk to anyone and are being held in juvie with public defenders working their cases.

The Congresswoman wants to hire Lena to find evidence to clear Alison, the 14-year-old murderer. She is convinced that Ali has only confessed to keep Kyle out of…

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Book Review: Vengeance is Mine by Reavis Z. Wortham Moves faster than a sidewinder!!

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Yep, this is a reblog, from my other blog. It is complicated 🙂 Me, not the book. Well, I think that is too. In a good way 🙂

writeknit

Vengeance Is Mine (A Red River Mystery)
By Reavis Z. Wortham
323 Pages

Vengeance Is Mine is the latestvengence-200 book in Wortham’s Red River Mystery Series. It opens with a hit man getting an assignment in Las Vegas 1967. Anthony Agrioli has not gone soft, but when he sees a couple of kids on the list, something begins to stir inside him. After deciding to double-cross his gangster boss and get out of the killing business, he picks up a hot babe and heads out of town. They set out on a path that may lead them to their own destruction.

The couple ends up in a small town in northeast Texas, hoping to lead a quiet, unassuming life far away from the glitz, glamour and guns that defined their previous life. They quickly find small towns are friendly, but a bit wary of newcomers. The town might be tiny…

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Book Review:The Richebourg Affair

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The Richebourg Affair

By R.M. CartmelThe Richebourg Affair

309 pages

R.M. Cartmel’s novel, The Richebourg Affair is a solid, satisfying mystery set in the tiny village of Nuits-Saint-Georges, France. Commandant Truchaud, a decorated member of the Paris police department receives a call that his brother has died, and he must return home to Nuits-Saint-Georges immediately. His commanding officer insists Truchaud take at least a month off to go home to his family’s Domaine where he can properly attend to the burial of his brother. He also needs to make sure the rest of the family as well as their wine business is on steady footing before he returns to his post in Paris.

He arrives home to find his father in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the family business possibly involved in underhanded dealings and ghosts of his past rearing their heads at the most inopportune times. Truchaud finds a murder victim from an adjoining Domaine soon after his arrival home. Could his brother’s death have been murder instead of the suspected heart attack?

Helping the local police, Truchaud is knee deep in the investigation when he finds himself in more danger than he thought possible in his quiet hometown known for much sought after wines. Rich Burgundy, not blood is supposed to be flowing, but treachery and lies have fermented along with wine for years and the corks are about to pop.

The Richebourg Affair took me a little bit longer to read than a run of the mill mystery due to the different names for the various characters’ roles. Thanks to Cartmel’s handy listing (starting on page 305) of each character’s name and the role in which they play, it made it easier for me to identify each of them. The village is added to my list of main characters, because without this famous wine-producing village, there would not be a story.

I loved this book. So much so, that I researched the cost of the famous Richebourg wine that is discussed by the wine experts throughout the story. I will only be able to dream about the heady bouquet and flavors dancing on my tongue as $1800.00 USD would blow a hole in my budget the size of a Parisian vacation. However, there are more budget friendly options from Nuits-Saint-Georges, which I just might have to purchase for a special occasion.richebourg-2963-1-3

Much to my surprise, this is R.M. Cartmel’s first novel. It is layered with well-developed characters and a solid mystery in addition to the murder(s) set in a most interesting place. It teaches readers about wine growing and producing without a drop of boring lecture. All of the information is skillfully tucked into the story fitting perfectly as a backdrop, but always present. The reader has all of the answers needed to tie up loose ends when Truchaud hosts a dinner with all of the officers on the case as well as those affected by the happenings in the village. After the perfect end to a great story, I am looking forward to many more adventures of Commander Truchaud.

Copyright © 2014 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review. Image of a classic Richebourg label from wine-researcher.com (http://sr3.wine-searcher.net/images/region/richebourg-2963-1-3.jpg)

Review: The Good Know Nothing – Not Quite Hardboiled, But Tasty

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The Good Know Nothing

By Ken Kuhlkenhttp://www.poisonedpenpress.com/the-good-know-nothing/

277 pages

Detective Tom Hickey worked for a police department that not only enforced the law, but also often became judge and jury. It was 1936. Prohibition didn’t prevent drinking, it was hidden in plain sight and readily available. Hickey’s boss and most of the department were dirty. Turning guns on whiskey runners that didn’t pay them off, the law became lawless.

The Police Chief called Hickey in, gave him a rifle, and told him to kill a man. He left without argument or the intension of following orders. Hickey has troubles and he doesn’t want to add murder to the list. At the top of the list was the discontent of his wife, Madeline. The former records clerk was now a mother and a sweet singer that got a taste of show biz, savoring every morsel. Hickey is sensing an increasing distance in their relationship. Their young daughter Elizabeth is the joy of his life.

The other woman in his life is Florence, his younger sister. He was her protector and guardian when his father left them with their abusive mother. Once a wild thing, Florence has settled down and has a good life. The siblings are thrust into the past with the arrival of a book that was most likely written by their father. Hickey becomes obsessed with the mystery surrounding his father; every door that opens pulls him in deeper. Will he cross the line, losing everything dear to him just to find the long hidden secrets of the father that abandoned them?

This is the sixth and last Tom Hickey novel. It is the first I have read, and absolutely works as a stand-alone story.  The only thing that confused me at times was the number of characters. I can assume that some of them were developed in previous books. At times, I had to go back several pages to get a better understanding of some of the roles the characters played.

Hickey and his immediate family were well-defined and developed. Kuhlken made me fall in love with the precocious Elizabeth. Strong willed Florence has a wonderful soft spot. She works with young girls and her interactions with her niece showcases their close and loving relationship.

At times, this novel appeared to be noir. It was almost, but not quite dark enough. I found the story being bogged down with the telling of it at times. It was kind of struggle of to be or not to be hardboiled, but only at times.

I liked the short chapters. When things got rolling the story pops to life with page turning action. The ending was unexpected and satisfying.

Copyright © 2014 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Want to Successfully Publish? First, Are You a “Real” Writer?

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Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 8.07.57 AM

For many writers (me included), we don’t start off with the confidence to yell to the world, “I’m going to be a professional author!” Heck, I wrote a 178,000 word “novel” and still didn’t believe I was a writer. Later, I had over a year and a half of consistent blogging under my belt, multiple short stories, and newbie novels that had been at least good enough to win prestigious contests and yet….

I was not a “real writer.”

Schrödinger Writer? If you put a writer in an office at a keyboard, is the writer alive or dead (real or fake) until the book is published?

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We’ve Come a LONG Way, Baby

The literary landscape has shifted dramatically. More avenues of publishing have opened and become appealing, thus this silly question of, “Are we a real writer?” holds far less power. Believe it or not, when I began blogging, I dedicated…

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