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Tuesday, November 21, 2017



Uneasy Relations 
(Gideon Oliver #15)


By Aaron Elkins






Gideon Oliver, world renowned forensic anthropologist known to most of the world as the “Skeleton Detective” wonders if the near death experiences he has suddenly been having are really just accidents or if the “Law of Interconnected Monkey Business” might have more to do with it.

He and his Park Ranger wife Julie are attending a conference at the Rock of Gibraltar celebrating the anniversary of the famous discovery of the remains of a part-Neanderthal child “Gibraltar Boy”. Although remarkable, the discovery was tainted by the loss of Sheila Chan, a colleague who was buried under tons of the ancient earth while working on the dig. 

As Gideon and Fausto, a former student and now the areas Chief Inspector, try to piece together the past as well as the present things seem to go from bad to worse. Ivan Gunderson, a famous archaeologist credited with finding Gibraltar Boy is consumed in a mysterious fire that leaves more questions smoldering than answers and Gideon must pick through the remains of his old friend to help solve the mystery of what is really going on.

Aaron Elkins does an outstanding job of intertwining his cast of nerdy, idiosyncratic, scientific characters in this Mediterranean setting laden with Barbary Apes and Neolithic remains. He takes us down the winding path of intrigue while keeping our deductive senses peaked.
A very good read for Gideon followers and for those new to the series who like a bit of forensic anthropology thrown in to their mystery reading.

This book review was originally written for Armchair Interviews

Friday, November 17, 2017



Dirkle Smat and the Flying Statue


By Lynn D. Garthwaite



Meet the Explorers Club, Dirkle Smat, leader of the group, his brother Quid who always appears braver on the outside than he is truly feeling on the inside, Fiddy Bublob aka snack- bearer, Bean Lumley a true inventor and Toonie Oobles who adds a touch of feminine sensibility to the troop. Each of these curious kids shows inventiveness and intelligence while solving some minor and some not so minor mysteries together.

In Inside of Mount Flatbottom the Club uses their creative inventions to spelunk a deep dark cave and stumbles on to the answer to a long held myth and make some new friends in the process.

Dirkle Smat and the Flying Statue, the 2nd book in the series, takes the reader along with the kids to a magical land where they find getting home might be a little more puzzling a predicament than they bargained for.

In the third book in the series, Dirkle Smat and the Viking Shield, Dirkle and his friends find a century’s old map that leads them to a great historical treasure. The treasure inspires the kids to leave a bit of their own history to unearth.

Lynne Garthwaite’s Dirkle Smat series is a fun trip to the worlds of wonder that are often right here in our own backyard. Each story shows the value of helping one another through team work, positive encouragement and planning. They display a great transitional reading level for those children just entering the chapter book stage while still giving them plenty of illustrations to keep it appealing and a length that won’t overwhelm.

This review was originally written for Armchair Interviews

Thursday, November 16, 2017



The Seance

Audio book version

By John Harwood

Fiona Hardingham, Simon Vance, Katherine Kellgren (Narrators)


For a girl, growing up in the Victorian era has its own difficulties, but for Constance Langton things are far more ghastly than properly worn bustles and guarded reputations. Her mother is in an everlasting state of mourning over the loss of her youngest daughter Alma and her father is as detached, cold and indifferent as a wet fish. Forlorn, Constance makes a desperate attempt to bring her mother peace by arranging a séance’ which leads to Constance finding herself all alone in the world.


An unexpected inheritance befalls her in the form of an old, dilapidated and crumbling mansion with an ominous history. Constance becomes obsessed with disentangling the web of peculiar and eerie happenings the mansion has held for several generations and in doing so, finds her mind on the precipice of insanity and her life in mortal peril.


The author, John Harwood, does an excellent job of portraying the female character in this Victorian setting, which makes it easy to identify with the characters and follow the storyline with eager interest. The twists and turns of the mysteries surrounding the mansion and Constance’s life bind into a clever, believable conclusion.


I listened to the audio version of the book and I felt the narration was good although it did take me a bit to warm up to one of the narrators. There is one scene in particular where I felt the narration was too loud (even though shouting was taking place), but overall the multiple narrators introduced in separate parts worked quite well.

The story does take its time to build, but is worth the wait. I would recommend this book for its grasp of the era, the intricate story that beseeches being pieced together along with it skillful narration.

Monday, November 13, 2017


Dirkle Smat Inside Mount Flatbottom


By Lynn D. Garthwaite

Author Website

Meet the Explorers Club, Dirkle Smat, leader of the group, his brother Quid who always appears braver on the outside than he is truly feeling on the inside, Fiddy Bublob aka snack- bearer, Bean Lumley a true inventor and Toonie Oobles who adds a touch of feminine sensibility to the troop. Each of these curious kids shows inventiveness and intelligence while solving some minor and some not so minor mysteries together.

In Inside of Mount Flatbottom the Club uses their creative inventions to spelunk a deep dark cave and stumbles on to the answer to a long held myth and make some new friends in the process.

Dirkle Smat and the Flying Statue, the 2nd book in the series, takes the reader along with the kids to a magical land where they find getting home might be a little more puzzling a predicament than they bargained for.

In the third book in the series, Dirkle Smat and the Viking Shield, Dirkle and his friends find a century’s old map that leads them to a great historical treasure. The treasure inspires the kids to leave a bit of their own history to unearth.

Lynne Garthwaite’s Dirkle Smat series is a fun trip to the worlds of wonder that are often right here in our own backyard. Each story shows the value of helping one another through team work, positive encouragement and planning. They display a great transitional reading level for those children just entering the chapter book stage while still giving them plenty of illustrations to keep it appealing and a length that won’t overwhelm.

This review was originally written for Armchair Interviews

Saturday, November 11, 2017



Just One Damned Thing After Another

(The Chronicles of St. Mary's #1)

By Jodi Taylor


Sara Ramm (Narrator)

At a place called St. Mary’s you might expect the words ...”and everything went white…” to be followed by some transcendent spiritual experience. However; at this St. Mary’s those words are followed by a jump, a jump in time that transports its passengers to periods in history where they are to observe, retrieve data and log their unobtrusive encounters there. Seems harmless right? Wrong. . Being a historian is not a job for the fearless. Max has already had her fair share of her own turbulent history before she even arrives at St. Mary’s. Once there, chaos seems follow her know matter what time continuum she is in. As if dealing with the complications of being hurled back into a place and time that is utterly foreign and unpredictable wasn’t enough, Max must manage to survive the relationships she shares with her quirky and unconventional colleagues.

Jodi Taylor’s theme to this first in the series of St. Mary’s books is quite a rollicking ride. It has all of the elements you could want: plenty of action, a splash of romance, just a smidge of science fiction, and a spunky, strong-minded (yet quite flawed) heroine that takes you on a unique adventure.

The narration of the story was spot-on and the peaks and valleys of the story really kept me guessing what would happen next. I look forward to reading the next installment in the series to see how the quest continues. I am hopeful that the second in the series will measure up to my now high expectations.

The only warning I would give is that there is some strong language and one explicit scene so if that is bothersome to you, beware. However; I would recommend this book to just about anyone even those that are not science-fiction fans, because the story line holds interest even without the science fiction component.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


Dirkle Smat and the Viking Shield 

By Lynn D Garthwaite - Author's Website
 Craig Howarth

Meet the Explorers Club, Dirkle Smat, leader of the group, his brother Quid who always appears braver on the outside than he is truly feeling on the inside, Fiddy Bublob aka snack- bearer, Bean Lumley a true inventor and Toonie Oobles who adds a touch of feminine sensibility to the troop. Each of these curious kids shows inventiveness and intelligence while solving some minor and some not so minor mysteries together.

In Inside of Mount Flatbottom the Club uses their creative inventions to spelunk a deep dark cave and stumbles on to the answer to a long held myth and make some new friends in the process.

Dirkle Smat and the Flying Statue, the 2nd book in the series, takes the reader along with the kids to a magical land where they find getting home might be a little more puzzling a predicament than they bargained for.

In the third book in the series, Dirkle Smat and the Viking Shield, Dirkle and his friends find a century’s old map that leads them to a great historical treasure. The treasure inspires the kids to leave a bit of their own history to unearth.

Lynne Garthwaite’s Dirkle Smat series is a fun trip to the worlds of wonder that are often right here in our own backyard. Each story shows the value of helping one another through team work, positive encouragement and planning. They display a great transitional reading level for those children just entering the chapter book stage while still giving them plenty of illustrations to keep it appealing and a length that won’t overwhelm.

This review was originally written for Armchair Interviews

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Ghost Writer

Audio book version

By John Harwood 
Simon Vance (Narrator) 

Living a very solitary life with his overly anxious mother, Gerard Freeman’s only reason for getting up each day is his pen friend Alice. They share everything from the mundane to the mysteries and secrets that surround Gerard’s mother's past.

Gerard finds his great-grandmother Viola’s ghostly manuscripts and they take him down a shadowy path leading to a dreadfully real crime. Gerard’s passionate struggle to uncover the truth puts him in mortal danger and may just cost him his chance to be with Alice.


When I first began The Ghostwriter, I found it interesting, but I wasn’t awestruck, I just kept waiting for “something to happen”; for a while I thought it never would, but slowly that changed and I was drawn into the intricate account of Gerard Freeman’s life. One thing that really impressed me was the author’s ability to tell a story within a story, in fact at one point a story within a story within a story. To keep the reader engrossed in a tale and then bring them back to be just as engrossed in the overall tale takes an admirable skill, in my opinion. With that said, I was quite puzzled by the ending.


Simon Vance narrates and does a superb job. I have always enjoyed his narration and some of the accents he does makes me forget that it is he alone narrating. The characters come so much to life it also makes me wonder what his real voice is like and where he originates from.


I give this one 4 stars (Which means a very good book. I enjoyed it, perhaps even had a hard time "putting it down". I would recommend this book to others.)

Sunday, November 5, 2017


Friars Club Encyclopedia of Jokes: Revised and Updated! Over 2,000 One-Liners, Straight Lines, Stories, Gags, Roasts, Ribs, and Put-Downs



By Barry Dougherty, H. Aaron Cohl (Compiler)





Need your funny bone tickled? Well, look no further because it will start with a smile, then a snigger and before you know it you are laughing out loud! Packed with over two thousand jokes, funny stories, and put-downs The Friars Club Encyclopedia of Jokes is a must-have for anyone with the need to feed their humor addiction.

Although the Friars Club has been roasting celebrities since 1950, Drew Carey holds the dubious honor of being the first to have his roast televised. He provides a witty, no-nonsense introduction to the book. Continuing in this same style, the book provides oodles of entertainment for the not-so faint-hearted. Page after page there is humor abound by literally hundreds of stars including Jack Benny, Dave Berry, George Carlin, Wanda Sykes, Red Skelton, Billy Crystal, Bob Newhart, Jerry Seinfeld, Jeff Foxworthy, Betty White, Lewis Black and Art Linkletter.

Each joke, from the subtle to the racy, is categorized by topic for ease in finding just the right one to break the ice at your next party or to open your next speech.

The Friars Club Encyclopedia of Jokes has a ton of highly amusing and at times side-splitting material for the mature audience. Barry Dougherty and H. Aaron Cohl have done a first-rate job of compiling and organizing it for browsing. There is even an index in the back of the book so you can search by celebrity if you prefer. I recommend you pick up this book for a great pick-me-up

This review was originally written for Armchair Interviews

Saturday, November 4, 2017



Touch & Go

  Tessa Leoni #2




By Lisa Gardner 

Author Website


Elisabeth Rodgers (Narrator)






“Pain has a flavor” and that flavor is oranges, at least it is for Libby Denbe. But not so long ago when Libby’s life was without pain, a time when her “picture perfect” life really was perfect, the taste of oranges was bliss. She was married to the perfect man, and they had a beautiful daughter they both loved and cherished, their life together was their dream fused into reality, or at least, so she believed.

Now, that time is over. She and her family have been ripped away from their beautiful home into a nightmare that they fear and do not understand. Their perfect life melts away as the dark secrets each of them holds begins to surface while their current predicament gnaws at them both physically and psychologically.

It is up to Tessa Leone and other law enforcement to find them before it’s too late. But even if they can be saved physically, will it be too late to save them from their past?

This was the first book I have read/listened to by Lisa Gardner. Although this is the second in the series featuring Tessa Leone the story follows well by itself. The premise of the book was something that could be heard about on the news which is not normally the type of book I enjoy because of its modern style but some of the lesser characters were quite interesting and kept my attentiveness. However; What was disappointing to me was that they mystery was not challenging. I figured out the predictable conclusion very early on and was just coasting to the end to have my prediction confirmed.

The narrator, Elisabeth Rodgers, does a great job with the accent work of some of the characters, but I did occasionally find the narration a bit lulling. These parts were very minor and overall I would listen to her narratives again and she does believable work.

I would give this book 3 stars overall (my three star rating means – I can finish the book and am at least partially interested/entertained.)





Friday, November 3, 2017





The Night Watchman

 (Ray Quinn Series, Book 1)


Mark Mynheir


Published By: Multnomah Books

Ray Quinn’s detective career was shattered, along with his pelvis and a few other body parts, thanks to the bullets that also took out his partner. The booze he pours down helps wash out some of the memories, but only long enough to help him sleep. Now, the most exciting thing in his life is the Sudoku puzzle he does each night at his job as a night watchman for an upscale condominium complex.

Ray figures life couldn’t be any more mundane and miserable–but he was wrong. An exotic dancer and a pastor turn up dead in one of the condo units where he works, an apparent murder-suicide. The pastor’s sister, Pam, can’t believe her brother would end his own life, let alone take another’s and begs Ray to help her restore her brother’s reputation.

Grudgingly and armed with a surly attitude and less-than-enthusiastic desire, Ray takes a look into the case. Before he knows what’s hit him, the case spirals out of control and gets more downright dirty and dangerous than he thought possible, the roots of which lie within his much-cherished Orlando Police Department.

Mark Mynheir’s The Night Watchman is the first in a new series and Mark’s true-life experiences in law enforcement shine through in this novel of Christian crime suspense. The language, actions and police procedures shown by the characters are so realistic you feel as though you are being led behind the scenes into the world that cops live each and every day. Also noteworthy is Mark’s remarkable ability to capture the very real emotional aspect of one’s faith and the turmoil we encounter in life that can lead us into and out of it.

There is a Reader’s Guide in the back of the book as a nice added feature.



I admire this talented author’s ability to write realistic crime fiction laced with Christian beliefs and would recommend this book to anyone looking for such.

Thursday, November 2, 2017






The Story of the Samson

by Kathleen Benner Duble


A young boy climbs upon his grandfather’s bed and snuggles in next to him. He eagerly awaits grandpa to tell him the story that he has heard many times before, but can never get enough of. It is the story of grandpa’s house, a house that is made from pieces of a ship that grandpa worked on during his sailing days. The ship is named Samson.

Samson is a one hundred forty-nine foot schooner whose rich historical past spans over sixty-five years. Its exploits include encounters with the Titanic, the polar explorer Admiral Byrd and the Chicago World’s Fair. Each escapade encapsulates an emotion for grandpa that does not go undetected by his young grandson.

In true historical fiction style, this book is filled with loads of information for the reader.

The author, Kathleen Benner Duble, weaves the tale back and forth from Samson’s seal-trapping history to the present retelling of the story between grandpa and child. She captures the excitement and wonderment of the young boy who so lovingly admires his aging grandfather.

This review was originally written for Armchair Interviews