Month: October 2020

Book Review: I Am a Rockstar by Uma Vanka

I found “I Am a Rockstar” by Uma Vanka to be a refreshingly helpful book on multiple fronts. The author has had extensive personal experience in the professional world (as well as life in general), and draws of these experiences to craft a well-thought out and well-written guide to help others achieve success. Mr. Vanka’s writing style is professional, while still maintaining an easy readability for the reader. I appreciated him sharing these glimpses into his own life.

While not all of the ideas presented here will appeal to everyone, I am confident that anyone reading the book could walk away with plenty of realistic, actionable steps to take to improve your life. While the text focuses more on the professional aspects of life than on the personal ones, I found many of the suggestions applicable to both.

I especially liked how the book focused on identifying your own strengths and assets, and using these to move ahead in life. Honestly, there is something for everyone here.

Five out of five chunks of yummy sharp cheddar!

Book Review: Murder in Devil’s Cove by Melissa Bourbon

“Murder in Devil’s Cove” by Melissa Bourbon is the first book in a new cozy series, the Book Magic series. It served as my introduction to the author as well, and I must say, I was VERY impressed! Everything about this book was spot-on, and there were plenty of little extras to love. First, the characters are very well thought out and developed. It was fun reading about twins (Pippin and Grey), as well as the various inhabitants of a small beach town. Little extra: the twins were named after Lord of the Rings characters!

While we got a fair bit of insight into Pippen in this story, I look forward to future installments to learn more about some of the others, especially Grey. The plot was intriguing as well. I enjoyed following Pippen’s progress as she looked into the twenty-year-old disappearance of her father, as well as a newly-discovered murder (or was it an accident?). I also enjoyed how the twins’ family history played into the modern-day storyline. Little extra: we get a few flashes of the past and learn more about Pippen and Grey’s parents and their lives.

I enjoyed the touches of magical realism interspersed throughout the story as Pippen begins to discover her gift of bibliomancy. (In case you don’t know…this means using books for psychic purposes.) Little extra: a fair bit of the bibliomancy was centered upon “The Odyssey”, an ancient classic.

One more extra bit that I particularly enjoyed: a stray dog had been living on the twins’ formerly abandoned property, and Pippen takes time out of her schedule to make efforts to befriend her. This adds depth to Pippen’s character, and also gives readers the almost-required cozy pet.

All in all, five out of five scoops of slighly-warm Brie!

Book Review: The Lethal Legacy by Jeannette de Beauvoir

Book Review: The Lethal Legacy by Jeannette de Beauvoir

This is one of my favorite mystery series, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review the latest installment, “The Lethal Legacy”. Needless to say, I was NOT disappointed…this book continues to offer everything I love about the series, plus adds in some new aspects of life in Provincetown.

I am a huge fan of main character Sydney Riley. She is smart, organized, loyal, and absolutely hilarious! Her inner dialog is always a highlight for me….not much is funnier than the things Sydney thinks (but usually doesn’t say out loud).

The book is set in Provincetown, a real place that the author obviously knows well. Her love of the area shines through during the entire book, and her descriptions of the town and its people, places, and events made me want to visit. This time around, we visited (along with Sydney) some new-to-me parts of the P’town landscape. I enjoy learning more about this area with each book.

Some other highlights:

  1. A good bit of Provincetown’s history is shared, as the murder victim’s wife was in town to do a bit of historical research into her own ancestry. It was fascinating (but sad) to read about this real-life stop on the Underground Railroad, and what life was like for some of those who escaped to Canada.
  2. There is character diversity! Unlike so many cozies, not everyone is young, beautiful, thin, white, and straight. I very much enjoyed reading about different types of people within the cozy mystery sub-genre.
  3. This is NOT a romance! Yes, Sydney has a serious boyfriend, but he isn’t local. There are a couple of phone conversations, but Sydney tackles this mystery on her own.
  4. The main local detective is female, and is sometimes, grudgingly, willing to work with Sydney a bit. No trope-ish love/hate romance with law enforcement to be found!

All in all, another excellent novel by Ms. de Beauvoir! This book offers everything that’s expected from a cozy, but does so with enough of an edge to make it stand out in the genre.

Five out of five cups of shredded Pepper-Jack!

Book Review: Amora by Grant J. Hallstrom

“Amora” by Grant J. Hallstrom is a wonderfully accurate and detailed Christian historical fiction novel. It takes place in Rome during the mid/late 100s CE, the time when Marcus Aurelius was Caesar.

First, the story itself was fascinating. The reader follows the lives of Amora and her husband Leo starting with their marriage. To avoid spoilers, I won’t discuss the plot, but there is plenty of detail about everyday life for the upper classes, politics, military campaigns, and religious strife. All of this information is imparted to the reader as organic to the story; it never makes you feel like you’re reading a history book. You’ll get an enjoyable and interesting story, and learn some things in the process. What could be better?

The main characters of Amora, Leo, Maria, Esteban, and Antonio are all very detailed and realistic. I particularly enjoyed Antonio’s side-story and character development once he leaves Rome. Darius is also important, as he imparts major faith-based lessons to multiple characters. It was intriguing to see how each person lived out their faith, or came to find faith for the first time in their lives.

There is plenty of solid Christian content and theology in this book. Once again, it’s all organic to the storyline and characters, and never feels like it’s just been thrown in. Everything flows beautifully throughout the book.

A helpful glossary and some historical notes are included at the back of the book. I found the glossary a useful reference as I read, and the notes added more depth to some of the characters and events once I’d finished the story.

I highly recommend “Amora” to fans of historical fiction, ancient Rome, and Christian fiction.

Five out of five wedges of delicious Gouda!