Book Review: Threads of Suspicion

Threads of Suspicion #2  -     By: Dee Henderson<br />
While I lean towards reading historical fiction, I’ll occasionally pick up a good action or crime novel. Dee Henderson is an author I have always enjoyed reading, especially her military and police novels. Henderson’s newest novel is Threads of Suspicion, book two in the Evie Blackwell Cold Case series. I haven’t read book one, Traces of Guilt, but I didn’t feel too far behind and was still able to immensely enjoy the novel.

Police Lieutenant Evie Blackwell has just been assigned to the new Missing Persons Task Force in the state of Illinois. The Task Force’s job will be to go back to local and state cold cases, taking a fresh look, gathering new evidence, and solving the mystery of missing persons from years past.

Evie will be working with David Marshal, a former New York City cop, in solving these cold cases. Each member of the task force picks a case from a stack of cold cases. Evie chooses to look into the disappearance of a college student, Jenna Greenhill, which happened aa decade ago. David’s case is that of a PI who went missing several years prior.

Evie and David bring new questions to the table, and a fresh perspective, as they try to solve their respective cases. As they get deeper in, however, they realize their cases may be linked…not only with each other’s cases, but with each other’s personal lives.

Meanwhile, both David and Evie are struggling with their personal relationships. Will solving their cases help them solve their relationship problems as well?

I really enjoyed this novel. At 428 pages, it kept me busy for quite a while. There were times when it was a bit slow, but you can always see the wheels turning in the character’s heads, as they try to solve the next puzzle. As with the other Dee Henderson novels I have read, it kept me entertained while also giving me a lot of think about. I really felt a closeness to the characters and look forward to more from the author!

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Kid’s Book Review: The Bible Explorer’s Guide

My 8 year old loves picture filled fact books. Sometimes she spouts out a random fact, and proudly announces “I read it in my almanac.” So, I knew she would really enjoy The Bible Explorer’s Guide, a Bible almanac of sorts, filled with over 1,000 facts and photos.

The book is written in chronological order, starting with Let’s Explore the Bible, and ending with Writing the Rest of the Bible. Each page is filled with colorful blocks of facts, photos, maps, and captions.

There are facts about history, ancient customs and photos of ancient artifacts, facts about the lives of Biblical figures, and even background information about the occupations of citizens in Bible times.

Each page is filled with enough graphics to keep children interested, and I even learned quite a bit of new information! Some of the pages include:

-Captives in a Foreign Land
This page has maps, art, artifacts and photos of Babylon, talks about the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians and Daniel’s life in Babylon, including some of the famous events in Daniel’s life.

-Trumpets, Feasts, and Holy Days
This page outlines all the major Jewish festivals, the customs, the food, and the history behind each one. It shares accounts from Josephus about how many Jews he witnessed at the feast, and shows current photos of how Jewish people today celebrate each of the feasts.

-Enter the Gates of the Holy City
This page is filled with photos of Jerusalem, models of the Temple, and a painting of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. It tells kids about Jesus entering Jerusalem for the Passover before His crucifixion, tells them where in the Bible to read the account, and facts about how Herod the Great built much of the city as Jesus would have seen it.

This book quickly became a huge hit at our house, and I was very impressed with the amount of photos and graphics along with interesting facts, and I know it will be used in our homeschool quite frequently as well. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the Bible and Bible times.

*I received a free copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers and Zonderkidz Publishers. I was not required to give a positive review, as all opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Book Review: Invitation

I typically read historical fiction, but I decided to branch out and read book one in the Harbingers series, entitled Invitation, a paranormal novel.

This series is unique in that it is written by four different authors, each writing from the perspective of one of the four main characters. The authors are well-known in the Christian novel circle: Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky. It is a sci-fi meets spiritual warfare book.

The four characters are Brenda (Bill Myers), a street smart tattoo artist who has visions of future events; The Professor (Frank Peretti), a former priest turned atheist professor who sees everything from the lens of logic; Andi (Angela Hunt), the professor’s young assistant who can see patterns in everything, and Tank (Alton Gansky), the college football player who is connected to healing powers.

The book is divided into four sections: Brenda’s point of view starts the book, and tells her how the four of them came together because of her vision. Then the group gets caught up in a school for those with “special gifts” and they get caught up with demonic powers.

The second section is about the Professor meeting up with the other three under coincidental circumstances, and a mysterious, possessed house intent on and the presence of a mysterious young boy whom Brenda had a vision about.

The third section follows Andi, and how she calls the rest of the gang together to investigate the suspicious deaths of birds and fish near her Florida home.

The fourth section trails Tank as he meets up with the others to figure out how a young girl with strange gifts plays into their destinies.

Invitation was a very interesting book. The best part about the book was the cohesiveness of the characters despite being presented by different authors. Each character stayed true to his or her self, so I felt like the authors did a good job maintaining the personality of each character throughout the entire novel.

But, I have to say, all in all, it was a very strange book. I can’t say I’m hooked, but it was pretty entertaining. I just have to warn against reading right before bed–I had nightmares!

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way. I was not required to write a positive review.

10 Children’s Picture Books About Italy

 italy

This year we’ve been studying World Cultures and History in our homeschool. I wrote the curriculum, which is mostly a ton of library books, a bunch of hands on activities, and thoughtful open ended discussions.

I have checked out nearly 900 library books since September, so I have been able to read and narrow down my favorite books from each country and culture. We had a lot of fun studying Italy. We went to our favorite Italian restaurant, we built the Trevi Fountain out of LEGOs, and we did several art projects and listened to classical composers. These were the top 10 picture books we read about Italy.

1. Madeline and the Cats of Rome
Written by the grandson of the original author of the Madeline series, Madeline and the Cats of Rome follows the charming little French girl and the other 11 girls in her home plus Miss Clavel as they take a spring trip to Rome.

2. Pizza for the Queen
This is a really cute picture book based on a true story, about the origins of the Margherita pizza: when a pizza maker wanted to impress the Queen of Italy. This was a fun read and made us hungry!

3. There’s a Dolphin in the Grand Canal
This book takes place in Venice, and follows the young Venetian boy Luca as he tries to convince his family and friends that the dolphin he claims to see in the Grand Canal is not just a imaginary story.

4. Gabriella’s Song
Gabriella hears a beautiful melody in everything, including her everyday tasks, and it inspires a classical composer to write a new masterpiece when he hears the rhythm.

5. Vivaldi and the Invisible Orchestra
Cute historical fiction about a young orphan girl who transcribes Antonio Vivaldi’s music into sheet music, and how she inspires him. Based on true characters.

6. Strega Nona’s Gift
Fun and whimsical series about Strega Nona, the Italian grandmother who has magical powers.

7. The Famous Nini: A Mostly True Story of How a Plain White Cat Became a Star
A fun little book about a stray cat that becomes a celebrity.

8. Blockhead-The Life of Fibonacci
Probably one of the best books we have read this entire year. Informative, interesting, entertaining, and engaging. My 8 year old was inspired to write the Fibonacci sequence out as high as she could. The story of the mathematician who found number patterns in nature.

9. Italy ABCs
An ABC book that explains Italian words and famous locations.

10. You Wouldn’t Want to Live in Pompeii
We have LOVED the You Wouldn’t Want To… Series. It is written almost in comic book style and gives a lot of information while still being a lot of fun. The series includes other events, such as The Great Wall of China, the Hindenburg, and the Travels of Marco Polo.

This post contains some affiliate links if you order through Amazon, but these are all books we have read and enjoyed as a family and I don’t have a vested interest in any of them.

Cookbook Review: One Pan and Done

Is there anything better than pulling a delicious, healthy supper out of the oven knowing it was a cinch to prepare and didn’t dirty more than one pan?

Well, that’s the concept behind the newest cookbook from Molly Gilbert, One Pan & Done. Molly Gilbert’s last cookbook, the bestselling self-explanatory book Sheet Pan Suppers, gave a variety of meals that could be cooked completely on a sheet pan.

One Pan and Done is along the same lines, but Molly has gone beyond the sheet pan and has branched out to sharing recipes that are simply one pot/pan/skillet.

The recipes are divided into course: Breakfast and Brunch; Starters, Snacks, and Sides; Veggie Mains; Poultry; Fish; Meat; and Sweets. Each recipe has an icon on top designating it as a meal made from a Sheet Pan, Cast Iron Skillet, Dutch Oven, 9×13 Baking Dish, Muffin Tin, or Cake/Pie/Tart/Loaf/Bundt Pan.

Some of the recipes that really stood out to me included Portobello and Black Bean Chili cooked in a Dutch Oven, Quick Chicken Pot Pie in a Cast Iron Skillet, Warm Apple Biscuit Cake in a Bundt Pan, and Warm Buttermilk Doughnut Muffins in a Muffin Tin.

This cookbook offered a wide variety of meals, using typically fresh ingredients. There were quite a few recipes that I think even my kids would be fond of, such as Chicken Marsala and Oven Mac and Cheese. There were also “mature palate” meals such as Apricot Glazed Drumsticks with Quinoa and Baked Spring Risotto. So, I liked the variety. I also loved the concept of the book–as a busy mom, one pan dinners are a lifesaver!

*I received a copy of this cookbook from Blogging for Books and the publisher. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.