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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Tine To Live, A Tine To Die

Author:  Edith Maxwell
Publisher:  Kensington Books
Genre:  Mystery
Pages:  Hardcover
Reviewer:  Virginia Armstrong
Rating:  5

In the quaint town of Westbury, Massachusetts, Cameron Flaherty has taken over her Great Uncle Albert’s farm.  With the help of the CSA volunteers, many who belong to the Westbury Locavore Club, her venture as organic farmer begins to prosper.

That is until Mike Montgomery, a hired hand, is found murdered.  Not only is he found on her property, but with Cam’s pitchfork thrust through his neck.

To clear her name, she must carry out her own investigation, which leads to a vast array of suspects and uncovering a few of the town’s secrets.  Going to dangerous lengths, Cam will stop at nothing until the killer is revealed.

A Tine To Live, A Tine To Die did not hold my attention for long.  The characters were stiff and the dialogue unconvincing.  The story lacked substance, but contained too much filler while the author spent much time on needless explanations.  I would probably pass this one by.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Steam Train Dream Train

Authors:   Sherri Duskey Rinker
                 Tom Lichtenheld
Genre:   Children’s
Publisher:  Chronicle Books
Pages:   Hardcover
Reviewers:  Virginia Armstrong
                    Tyler Skyler
    Story: 6
    Illustrations:  7
    Total:  6.5
Steam Train Dream Train is a sleepy time story for youngsters where animals – monkeys, bears, and even a dinosaur load a train with goodies.  It’s a good way to show how different animals (or people) can work and play together, and the value and rewards of teamwork.

Virginia’s take:  The illustrations were great!  Unfortunately the story didn’t hold the attention of five-year old Tyler or his two-year old sister, Sophia.  I found the story to be a little too busy for bedtime, yet the illustrations depicted too much of the night to be anything but that.  Also, the rhyming did not always flow smoothly, which threw the reading off a bit.
Tyler’s take:  Tyler liked the story.  He was quite impressed to see the bear driving the train and the dinosaur pulled his attention back into the book.  At the end, the story seems to make more sense to him when he realizes the story is about a boy dreaming about his toy train set.

Storm Front

Author:  Richard Castle
Genre:  Thriller
Pages:  Hardback
Publisher:  Hyperion
Reviewer:  Virginia Armstrong
Rating:  5

CIA fixer Derrick Storm is on a manhunt.  Someone has targeted the world’s most powerful bankers, leaving a trail of tortured corpses in his wake.  The M.O. points to only one man, Storm’s sworn adversary, Gregor Volkov, a psychotic mercenary who will stop at nothing.

Storm must not only locate Volkov, but must uncover the man who has hired him before a global financial catastrophe occurs the likes of which have never been seen before.  With the help of a beautiful Chinese operative and a geeky computer expert, Storm races the clock to find the last person on Volkov’s hit list before it’s too late.

With the CIA concealing pertinent information and politicians on the take, Storm has his work cut out for him that takes him across the globe and into a high speed car chase.  Worse, Volkov has decided to go renegade on his employer with plans of his own.

Storm Front grabs the reader from the first page, pulling you along into the mystery.  Derrick Storm’s character is likable and easily visualized, especially when interacting with Xi Bang, the Chinese operative.  Unfortunately, halfway through the book, the story loses its allure, the mystery becoming dull and drawn out.  The car chase was a bit long and overdone, perhaps better received in a movie.  With that said, the style of writing was done very well, the characters portrayed in excellent fashion.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Case Of Redemption

Author:  Adam Mitzner
A Case of RedemptionGenre:   Suspense Fiction
Pages:  Hardcover
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Reviewer:  Virginia Armstrong
Rating:  7.5

Rap star Legally Dead is charged with brutally killing his girlfriend.  The proof is in his lyrics.  Or at least that’s what the prosecution believes.   The rapper insists he innocent. 

 Dan Sorenson is an attorney who is out of work by his own choice.  Since his wife and daughter's deaths, he chooses scotch over practicing the law.  When his friend’s sister, Nina approaches him about taking on a new client, he is reluctant.  As far as he’s concerned, he believes as does the prosecution.  The song says it all.

With some cajoling on Nina’s part, Dan finally agrees to represent the accused.  Setting aside the scotch, he dives into the investigation, feeling his life coming back to him.  All the while, he remembers the last case he’d taken on.  The part he’d had in it.  The guilt he still felt.  The last thing he wanted or needed was to repeat the same mistake.

Soon, he finds himself in a plot of twists and turns filled with deception and a case of he said/she said.

A Case of Redemption is two-fold, not only for the rapper, but for Dan Sorenson as well as he tries to free himself of the guilt from a prior case.  The story is well written, keeping the reader guessing who did it.  Then, for a brief time, it appears the author begins to slack because the reader has it all figured out, and then; Wham! Adam Mitzner hits you with a surprise punch in the end.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Still Life in Shadows

Still Life in Shadows
Author:  Alice J. Wisler
Genre: Fiction
Pages: Paperback
Publisher: Moody Publishing
Reviewer: Virginia Armstrong
Rating:  8

Bearing the shame of a family secret, Gideon Miller escaped the confines of the Old Order and his father’s harsh ways.  Now, fifteen years later, he is known as the Getaway Savior as he helps others from the Amish community transit into the “real world”.

Enter Kiki, an autistic teen, who at times can be very persistent and impatient.  After an unpleasant introduction, Gideon agrees to hire her on at his auto repair shop.  It is only afterward that he realizes she is related to Mari, a woman he is smitten with.
Torn between the rules, or lack of rules, in the modern world and those of his Amish upbringing, Gideon is faced with moral questions, choices he has made and his belief in God. 

Together, Kiki and Gideon find inspiration and hope in their displaced lives and above all else, God’s forgiveness and grace.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  The story touches your heart.  It makes you laugh.  It makes you cry.  The characters are colorful and filled with life.  The storyline is of personal relationships, forged friendships, and adapting in an alien world.  It touches upon demons of the past, addictions, abuse, forgiveness.  Honoring promises and making difficult choices.  It deeply connects the reader to the story, making you question yourself as to the choices you would have made as opposed to Gideon.

In the end, it gives inspiration and hope as Gideon finds his way back to God.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Author:  Mike Lawson
Buy this bookGenre:  Thriller
Pages:  Hardcover
Reviewer:  Virginia Armstrong
Ratings:  6 

Orson Mulray, CEO of Mulray Pharma, is intent on fame and fortune no matter the cost, even if it means human sacrifice.   Believing Dr. Simon Ballard has found the Holy Grail of medicine, he gives him the means to research on human guinea pigs by using the Warwick Foundation, a disaster relief organization, to provide the research subjects and also as a front to cover his crime.   

Fast forward two years.  Joe DeMarco is tasked to investigate a two-year-old murder case to appease the boss’s wife.   The mother of Brian Kincaid insists her son has been framed.  DeMarco plans on doing as little as possible, believing Kincaid to be guilty.  That is until his friend Emma becomes involves and insists he delve deeper. Soon, DeMarco and Emma find themselves embroiled in a deadly plot that covers third world countries as well as Washington, D.C., leaving victims falling like dominoes.

House blood chillingly brings to mind the lengths some will go for money and status, and how unsuspecting victims can be pulled into the deception.  Orson and his crew are written true to character as cold and emotionless villains out to get whatever they desire.  The story also shows how one small inquiry can bring the entire scheme tumbling down.  At first, DeMarco comes across lazy and unmotivated, but with the help of his friend Emma, gets the job done.  All in all, it’s a good read with murder, mayhem, greed and ultimately, the good guys winning in the end.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Anonymous Sources

AUTHOR:  Mary LouiseKelly
Genre:  Thriller
Pages:  Hardcover
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Reviewer:  VirginiaArmstrong
Ratings:  7 

While reporter Alexander  James is covering an apparent suicide, instinct compels her to delve deeper.  As the pieces begin to fall together, she finds herself embroiled in a terroristic plot against the United States.  More exact, the White House.  Keeping one step ahead to stay alive and uncertain who to trust, she engages with the intelligence community, giving them the missing information needed to avert a nuclear attack.

Anonymous Sources is a realistic terrorist thriller.  The plot spreads out only to come together perfectly, keeping the readers intrigued and on the edge of their seat.  The genuine ambience and true to life characters deem this book a fantastic read this summer.