Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dead and Buried by Karen MacInerney

Book 2 of the Gray Whale Inn Mystery series.  This is currently one of my favorite cozy mystery series. I am draw to books set on the East Coast. I have never been there.. hope to go one day.. and am truly fascinated by the thought of life in a sea village with rocks and salt air.  No doubt I romanticize it more than I should!

Cranberry Island is a close knit community full of a vast array of characters. They laugh and cry and gossip and argue, but they stick together.. and everyone is effected when something happens to one of their own.  

Natalie has her hands full running Gray Whale Inn, especially when her laundry-lady doesn't show up and the dirty linens are taking over the basement.  Natalie sets out to check on Polly, only to discover her body in the Cranberry bog behind her home. And so the mystery begins.  No matter how much she determines to not get involved, Natalie's curious mind gets the best of her and off she goes sleuthing. After a second, seemingly unrelated murder, occurs, her best friend is arrested and Natalie steps up her effort.

In the midst of playing detective, she runs her inn.. deals with a potential competitor spying out her business... a relatively new and still fragile relationship.. and an ex-finance who shows up unexpectedly.  

Life is never dull on Cranberry Island!

Knit, Purl, Die by Anne Canadeo

Book 2 of the Black Sheep Knitting Mystery series.

Another fun cozy mystery. I am not a knitter.. my daughter is so maybe that is why I like knitting mysteries.  And really knitting is sort of what holds the characters together (or should I say Yarn is!) but knitting is not the main focus.  I am a quilter and have a small close knit (oh what a pun!) group of quilting buddies who remind me a great deal of the Black Sheep Knitters.  It is just that camaraderie that occurs when you share a hobby or interest with a small group of people.. people you might not even speak to otherwise.. and you find that you share more than that hobby... you actually like each other!

Gloria Sterling has it all... looks, money, and a gorgeous young husband that other women drool over.  She is well thought of.. a savvy business woman.. charitable.. and in an odd way one of the gang when it comes to the Black Sheep Knitters. Not one of the regular group, but Gloria floats in whenever she can to chat and knit with the girls.

So when she is found dead, they take it personally.  The police are quick to rule her death an accident and certainly everything points to that, but the BSK have their doubts. And when they doubt they snoop!  Secret relationships.. business deals.. troubles.. all turn up as they try to unravel this mystery without smearing their deceased friend's name and adding sorrow to the grieving husband.

If you are a knitter, there are knitting ideas and links to patterns. Throughout the book you read of yummy meals and snacks.  Canadeo has been kind enough to put recipes in the back of the book for many of those yummy treats!

A fun cozy mystery... great way to relax and escape for a bit.

Let.It.Go by Karen Ehman

Back in the fall I was on the search for a Bible study for the ladies Bible study group I lead at church. We have never done any of the Proverbs 31 Ministries studies, so I decided to check them out. There was a new one about to be released, Let.It.Go. by Karen Ehman... How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith.  Being  somewhat of a control freak, this one sounded right up my alley!  So I ordered the book, the study guide and the DVD. 

I have to say that Proverbs 31 is very reasonable when it comes to their DVDs!  There books and study guides are about the norm, but their DVDs are a much better price than most of the studies I teach.  I was thrilled.

This review is for all of these items BUT you could easily read the book with out the Study Guide or DVD and get a great deal out of.  

My intention was to work through this on my own and then I learned of an online Bible study group that was going to do this study starting in February, so I signed up!  What fun it was to do with other ladies but it is definitely one that can be done on your own.

Ehman is a self-professed control freak who reaches out with great openness to woman who feel the need to manage every bit of their life (as well as their husband and kids and friends etc.) to death!  In the end, we put more pressure on ourselves and cause more stress and strain in our relationships.. including the most important one.. our relationship with God.

Through humor and personal experiences, Ehman guides you into the Word and personal introspection to discover the freedom that can be found in Letting Go!  Control is not bad.. it is over control that leads to lack to trust and the inability to walk in faith and let God be God!

The DVD offers a bit of personal input from Ehman and while a good bit of the material on it is covered in the book, I really loved being able to listen to her and then read it.  It seemed to help drive some of those points home.  The Study Guide is, to me, a bit weak for a group study. But it would be good for personal study or quiet time.  It reinforces what is taught on DVD and in the book, as well as takes the reader further into the Word... which is always a good thing!

Overall I enjoyed the study. I am not sure it will work for my ladies group, but I have ideas how to use it in my church's Women's Ministry and it effected my personal life.

If you are a control freak or just like to hang on to everything a bit too tightly, this would be a good read for you.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A State of Grace by Traci DePree

Book 2 of the Mystery and the Minister's Wife series.

I became a huge fan of DePree's years ago when I discovered her Lake Emily Series.. A Can of Peas, Dandelions in a Jelly Jar and Aprons on a Clothesline. I cannot tell you how much I love this series of books! So I felt certain I would enjoy A State of Grace... and I did.

The Mystery here is an old one linked with a present situation.  Kate Hanlon, wife to local pastor Paul. learns of a single mom bearing the burden of a child battling leukemia alone and she decides to reach out.  In doing so, she discovers a bright vibrant young woman fighting bravely for her life and a tired overwhelmed mother striving for a medical miracle.  And then the words are spoken.. quietly.. quickly.. certainly not planned and not to be repeated "I could stop Marissa's dying, but I am too selfish."  What did Marissa's mother mean by that? And if it is true.. that she could stop her dying.. why wouldn't she?

And so the search begins.  Kate is determined to learn more about Patricia's past... to determine how Marissa could be save.  And in doing so old wounds are opened and it is painful and scary, but only when we deal with the past can we live in the present.

Another lovely cozy mystery from this series written by various authors.  DePree wrote 2 in the series (I think.. maybe 3) and I feel certain they will be my favorites!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Through the Fire by Diane Noble

Yes, I started yet another cozy mystery series.. I am addicted!

This is book one of the Mystery and the Minister's Wife series.  This series is written by different authors and the books are considered stand-alones (not building on one another), but they all revolve around the same community and the same main characters.  I did read online that the publisher suggests reading the first 2 or 3 in order to get the lay of the land.  I am not over OCD about much in life, but I am with books. I like to read series in order ... no matter how "stand alone" the books are. So I started with book one and am now reading book two.

Kate and Paul Hanlon has left everything... their thriving church, their home, friends, children to follow God's lead which takes them from San Antonio, TX to Copper Mill, TN.  Paul is the new pastor of Faith Briar Church and Kate, the minister's wife.  They roll into town to discover their new church home a blaze and so the questioning begins. Who would want to burn down their church and why?

As Kate adjusts to life in a small town and a small house, she gets caught up in the mystery and drawn to investigate a bit herself.  Along the way she makes friends (and a few enemies)... discovers secrets...receives death threats... inherits a "grand-dog"... and learns a great deal about herself and trusting the Lord as He leads.

Fun, light, entertaining read.  I am looking forward to following this series and hope the rest are as delightful as this one.