Month: November 2021

Book Review: The Safecracker’s Secret by Sandra Bretting

“The Safecracker’s Secret” is a wonderful stand-alone book that focuses on the developing relationship between Gene, an elderly safecracker, and his college-aged protege Skye. Each individual is given a detailed personality and back story, and I felt that I grew to know and understand each of them as the story progressed. Watching their relationship grow from their first meeting in Gene’s lock shop through the end of the book was truly a pleasure. (Note: This is an age-appropriate mentor/mentee relationship, NOT a May-December romantic one.)

Gene’s safecracking skills are sometimes utilized by the local (Houston) police, and this time around he’s involved in a case involving drugs being sold to students at Skye’s college. Part of the story revolves around trying to solve this case, but the main focus of the book is on Skye and Gene. There is a good bit for the reader to think about in terms of family relationships, which could make for interesting book club discussions.

Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed was that chapters are told from the perspectives of different characters. Gene and Skye (naturally) have the most chapters, but it was nice to hear from Reef (an employee at Gene’s shop) and police detective Boudreaux occasionally as well. This provided unique insights into different parts of the story. I loved how everything was woven together in the end.

I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a quality character/relationship-driven story with a touch of mystery.

Five out of five slices of yummy provolone!

Book Review: Winterset Hollow by Jonathan Edward Durham

First off, I have to say that I absolutely adored this book! The year isn’t over yet, but I’m confident that this one will be making my Top 10 list. Yes, it’s that good.

I want to suggest that, if at all possible, please do yourself a favor and start reading at page 1, without reading any sort of summary or book description first. I think you’ll enjoy the story even more if you have no idea what’s coming. The story’s events were still a bit of a surprise, but I would have been full-on shocked and stunned if I hadn’t read the description first.

Now, on to why I loved “Winterset Hollow” so much:

  1. It’s different. I read a lot of books, so when I come across one that really strikes me as something I haven’t experienced before, I take notice. While this book has some familiar fantasy and magical realism elements, the direction and nature of the story itself is truly unique. When an author manages to surprise me like this, I’m always impressed.
  2. The actual story is very good. If you haven’t already read the description, I’ll provide the spoiler-free version: A young man and his friends visit the island home of the author of a favorite book. Many things happen during this visit, and they will surprise even if you have read a more detailed summary. They will THRILL you if you go in blind.
  3. The characters were very well-written. I felt like I really knew all of the major ones by the time the story ended. Eamon, the main character, is provided with an incredibly detailed psychological profile. Enough is shared about everyone else who matters to the plot that the reader understands each of them and their motivations. I felt so connected that I’d love to read a follow-up book (or even a short story) about what happened after the novel ended.
  4. The writing itself was impressive! I don’t just mean that the book was free of typos and grammatical errors. It was, but that is to be expected. I mean that the actual writing style was amazing. This book was beautifully written, with a lyrical quality evocative of Markus Zusak. Don’t worry…the writing style never bogs down or takes away from the flow of the story in any way. It’s just perfect!

Thank you, Jonathan Edward Durham, for writing such a fantastic book. This one will have a home in my permanent collection, and I eagerly await whatever you come up with next.

Five out of five chunks of my absolutely favorite sharp cheddar!

Book Review: The Sound of Violet by Allen Wolf

I enjoyed everything about “The Sound of Violet” by Allen Wolf. At its most basic, it’s the story of an autistic young man searching for love and not realizing that the girl he met is actually a prostitute. In actuality it is so much more.

First, I appreciated the realistic portrayal of a high-functioning autistic person. The author shares Shawn’s daily life, his relationships with family members, the difficulties he faced at work, and the way he viewed the world. The other major character, Violet, was also portrayed with a great deal of depth and sensitivity. As the story progresses, the reader learns about how and why she ended up in her current situation, and comes to care for her more and more.

Second, the romance was sweet and believable. Shawn and Violet gradually spend more and more time together, and get to know each other. While Shawn is eager to find someone special and settle down, Violet has trouble trusting and believing anything good could happen to her. Through both dialog and actions, the author demonstrates how the relationship grows and strengthens.

A movie is being made from this story, and I enjoyed seeing the cast photos included at the end. I can’t wait to see how this book translates to the big screen!

Five out of five slices of delectable Swiss!

Book Review: A View Most Glorious by Regina Scott

“A View Most Glorious” by Regina Scott is the third book in the “American Wonders Collection” series. It is absolutely fine as a stand-alone. This installment tells the story of Cora, a young suffragette who decides to prove her independence, make a statement about the abilities of women, and avoid a marriage she doesn’t want by climbing Mt. Rainier.

This book is definitely character driven. Both main characters (Cora and her mountain guide Nathan) are incredibly well-written. The reader will feel like he/she is gradually getting to know real people as the story moves along and more and more about the characters’ pasts, families, and personalities are revealed. This is a historical romance, so it’s not surprising that feelings grow between the two. I found it interesting that two people from high society backgrounds, both looking for more out of life, managed to find each other. It was fascinating to watch their relationship develop.

Although the romance is lovely, it is only one part of what this book has to offer. The relationship unfolds as the couple undertakes a climb of Mt. Ranier together. The reader will learn a lot about the geography of that area, and what it was like to be undertake such a challenge without the benefit of modern equipment and safety gear. There is also plenty of information about daily life, religion, clothing, food, and the role of women during that time. Despite learning quite a bit, you will never be bored or feel like you’re sitting in a history lecture. All of this information is presented as part of the story, and is truly fascinating!

Since this is a Christian novel, I’ll address the role of Christianity in the story. Nathan is a devout Christian, and lives as he believes. His daily morning devotions provide an excellent example for Cora, as well as for the reader. It is always nice to read about a Christian person (Nathan) who lets his faith guide his actions without constantly announcing it and trying to force it onto others. I thought the religious aspect of this novel was handled perfectly.

5 out of 5 slices of thinly sliced, ultra-sharp Cheddar!