Friday, December 31, 2021

City of the Dead


City of the Dead: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman. New York: Ballantine Books, 2022. 336 pages. **** Publication February 2022

City of the Dead is 37 out of 37 in the Alex Delaware Series. Each of the books may be read as a standalone and enjoyed as a thrilling mystery. Once again psychologist Alex Delaware and Detective Milo Sturgis are called out to investigate a puzzling murder scene. 

Donny and Alfie work for a national moving company, Armour, Inc, and nothing about this trip has gone right. However, nothing prepared them for a loud thump which turned out to be a naked man hitting their truck. "Wrong place, wrong time for everyone." 

When a man in the neighborhood suggests that the victim may have been running from a rental house nearby which has frequent visitors of questionable character, blood is discovered by the rear door. Sturgis and Delaware are called to the scene when a woman's body is found in the house. Further complicating the case is that Alex realizes he encountered the victim in a prior case. 

Some authors who write series books become stale over time, not Jonathan Kellerman. I welcome every new book as an old friend and this one doesn't disappoint. Kellerman provides clues along the way (easily missed) as he reels the reader in. I recommend this book as one to add to your TBR list. 

Jonathan Kellerman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than three dozen bestselling crime novels, including the Alex Delaware series, The Butcher’s Theater, Billy Straight, The Conspiracy Club, Twisted, True Detectives, and The Murderer’s Daughter. With his wife, bestselling novelist Faye Kellerman, he co-authored Double Homicide and Capital Crimes. With his son, bestselling novelist Jesse Kellerman, he co-authored The Golem of Hollywood and The Golem of Paris. He is also the author of two children’s books and numerous nonfiction works, including Savage Spawn: Reflections on Violent Children and With Strings Attached: The Art and Beauty of Vintage Guitars. He has won the Goldwyn, Edgar, and Anthony awards and has been nominated for a Shamus Award. Jonathan and Faye Kellerman live in California, New Mexico, and New York.

For more information about Kellerman -

#psychologicalmystery #alexdelaware #cityofthedead #bookstagram #psychologicalthriller

Follow me on IG at @flamazing_books

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Book Girls - Lifetime of Reading : 2022 Reading Challenge

 December 27th, 2021

I stumbled across this Facebook Group and I am so excited to join in the Reading Challenge and to have some fun! More information is on the Book Girls' Guide Wepage. When you sign up through the Website, you will receive a free book tracker. 

Each month on the 20th I will receive a suggested list of books according to the theme.  I may choose one (or any other according to the month's criteria). The January theme for the Group I have chosen is  Novels With A Child Protagonist 

A few pluses for this Reading Group over others:

  • You don't need to participate through Facebook, you may communicate through email.
  • Some of the books have been around for awhile, so they may be available at your library or a Used Book Store.
FAQs and Introduction can be found here.

My book choice for January is -- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. This is book one of ten in the Flavia De Luce series. 

A Book Review will be posted for each month's book and my Book Tracker will be updated. 

#bookgirls #lifetimeofreading #thesweetnessatthebottomofthepie #2022readingchallenge

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

2022 Monthly Color Challenge

 The 2022 Monthly Color Challenge begins in one week! I have participated for the last 3 years and it is great fun. I am a Guest Blogger again this year. 

The Theme this year is "Spices" - sign up on Jen's Blog

and Join the "Quilt and Learn with Patterns by Jen" Facebook Group to show off your blocks and learn from others. Make sure you answer both questions in order to join. 

Look at all of those gorgeous colors!

I ordered these luscious fabrics from the Fat Quarter Shop. In previous years I spent may days trying to match colors and this year, I ordered the fabrics suggested by Jen.  

 I will be blogging during the months of March, July, and December. Follow along each and every month for tips and tricks from Jen and all of the Bloggers. 

Follow me on IG at kathy.nester

#2022monthlycolorchallenge #quiltandlearnwithpatternsbyjen 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Elephant Quilt

 I saw an elephant quilt hanging in my local Quilt Shop. The Old Country Store in Intercourse, PA, and knew I wanted to make it for my daughter for Christmas. Ann Bertorelli taught the class and it was great fun! Ann is an excellent teacher with all of the tips and tricks to make the class successful.

We used the Elephant pattern by Edyta Sitar. I wanted the quilt to have a modern look, so I chose fabrics to look like Ann's quilt. I took the class on a Wed and my LAQ had a deadline of Sat. morning to get it long-armed by Christmas. The race was on! My husband cut an elephant template out of plastic and helped trace it onto Heat and Bond lite.

I completed 5 elephants in class. 

Working feverishly, I laid the blocks on the living room floor. Looking at the finished size, I decided it definitely needed to be bigger. Instead of 24 blocks, I needed 35 blocks.

Ta-dah ! I made it! 

 I took it to the long-armer with a little lee-way on her part. She did a fabulous pattern and design. 

A flange binding always looks so easy on Youtube. When bringing the binding to the front and sewing it, the stitches were not straight and were unsightly. I took them out and decided to hand sew the flange. 

It wasn't until I started on the binding that I found the teal elephant on the lower left is not sewn down. It's completely quilted, now what?? Whatever I do is going to be noticeable. A few options -1. hand sew it down so it won't be seen from the back. (a straight or buttonhole stitch) 2. Sew it with a buttonhole stitch on the machine. 

Even though I have a right eye BRVO and stitching is difficult, I did try to sew even stitches. 

Slower progress and there's still the label to create. 

3 more days til Christmas! 

She loved it!


Monday, December 13, 2021

One Word - 2022

 One Word 2022- Pause

Each year brings its own blessings and challenges. Choosing a word each year is always difficult, however, Pause keeps jumping out at me. My family had a good year despite COVID and the nightly news and I am very grateful. 

I am struggling right now because my "people skills" are lacking, so Pause seems fitting. I have little patience and am curt and discourteous when I should be kind.

This quote inspired me. 

My One Word from past years:

2021 - Grateful

2020 - Joy  

2019 - Opportunity

2018- Clarity

2017 - Balance  

2016 -  Promise

2015 - Abundance

2014 - Believe

2013 - Simplify 

Information about "One Word"

#oneword #oneword2022

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Monday, December 06, 2021

Brandywine Valley Quilters 2022 UFO Challenge

For the last two years, my Quilt Guild has had a UFO Challenge. I wasn't going to join this year because I only seem to get 2 or 3 finished. On the other hand, I get 2 or 3 finished. Some of my UFOs are on this list for the 3rd year.  3rd times the charm, right?


1. Flamingo Birthday Quilt

2. Baby Boy Quilt

3. Gnome Quilt

4. 2021 Monthly Color Quilt

5. Gypsy Wife Quilt

6. Snow-a -long Quilt

7. Temperature Quilt

8. Medallion Quilt

9. Hen Quilt Party

10. Tea Party Quilt

11. Tula DayDreamer 

12. Color Quilt

Check back for progress reports or follow me on Instagram @ kathy.nester


The House in the Cerulean Sea


The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. New York: A Tom Doherty Associates Book, New York, 2020. 394 pages. *****

Linus Baker is a by-the-book caseworker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. His  job is to inspect orphanages and determine if the children are cared for appropriately according to the Rules and Regulations. He is given a highly classified secret assignment to travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage in the Cerulean Sea. There are 6 children on the island with Master Arthur Parnassus. 

Given folders and paperwork on the children doesn't prepare him for the creatures he encounters on the island. The more Linus gets to the know the children, the more he realizes that there are circumstances when the Rules and Regulations don't apply and sometimes family and home can be discovered in the strangest places.

I love a well-written fantasy book filled with whimsy, fun, and love. I have read that it is a "Gay" book. While I will certainly recommend it to anyone, I don't like labels. It is a love story (nothing graphic); all alluded to and about acceptance for others and who we are. 

Some controversy has surfaced about the source of Klune's inspiration for this story:

The Big Idea -

On TJ Klune's the House in the Cerulean Sea and the Right to Write

Perfect for a Young Adult. 

cerulean - A deep sky-blue color.

TJ KLUNE is a Lambda Literary Award-winning author (Into This River I Drown) and an ex-claims examiner for an insurance company. His novels include  the Green Creek series, The House on the Cerulean Sea and The Exraordinaries. Being queer himself, TJ believes it's important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories.

Interview with Klune

Tj can be reached at

Follow me on IG at flamazing_books


Monday, October 25, 2021

Fan Club


Fan Club by Erin Mayer. ***

An inside look into the world of being obsessed with a celebrity to the point of losing self-identity. "Fandom is about worship, yes, but it's also a reminder of all the ways life is unsatisfying for the regulars."  Stuck in a boring, mind numbing job as a Web Producer, a millennial connects with a group of women who are as obsessed as she is with Adriana Argento. The main character (she is not named) feels accepted and at home in the Group until she gets to know them individually. Is there a darker side to their activities?  

If you are looking for a change in the type of books that you are reading, this may be the one for you! My usual genres are mystery, historical , and women's fiction. I suspect that millennials will love this book, use of social media and the ability to stalk their idols electronically gives the false impression that the celebrity knows them and they have a personal relationship. Drugs distort their reality and intensifies feelings of isolation. For a debut novel, Mayer has captured the dark side of idolizing people you don't know and the burden on those performers. 

I received a copy of the book for a review and Blog Tour.

Erin Mayer is a freelance writer and editor based in Maine. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Man Repeller, Literary Hub, and others, and she was previously an associate fashion beauty editor at BustleFan Club is her first novel.

Follow me on IG at flamazing_books


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Other Me

The Other Me by Sarah Zachrich Jeng. New York, Berkley, 339 pages. ****

Kelly, a free-spirited artist living in Chicago, is celebrating her 29th birthday by attending her best friend Linnea's art show. "Sour Grapes isn't a good look" and Kelly is trying very hard to keep a smile on her face and celebrate Linnea's success. Crowded and warm, Kelly begins to feel nausea. She opens the bathroom door to-- "Surprise." Kelly is back in her hometown of Michigan and the guest of honor at her surprise party. Not only has she been transported to another place, but single Kelly is also now married to Eric Hyde, someone she barely knew in high school. Eric senses that something is wrong with Kelly, however, how can she possibly explain what has happened to her and how does she get back to her old life? The bigger question is does she really want to?

Jeng's debut novel will hold you fast and not let go. A new plot twist in time travel with many unexpected subplots. Entertaining and the perfect book to escape into, I read it in two days. If you enjoyed The Midnight Library and the concept of what if? you will want to read this novel. 

Sarah Zachrich Jeng grew up in Michigan and always had a flair for the morbid and mysterious (for her dad’s thirty-fifth birthday, she wrote a story entitled “The Man Who Died at 35”). She had a brief career as an aspiring rock star before she came to her senses and went back to school to become a web developer. Sarah lives in Florida with her family and two extremely hyper rescue dogs. The Other Me is her first novel.

Fore more information

Other books with a similar theme:

Dream Daughter

The Midnight Library

Follow me on IG - flamazing_books

#theotherme #timetravelfiction #alternativeuniverse 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Quilt Retreat and Checklist

 Quilt Retreats

I love going to Quilt Retreats and try to go to at least 2 a year. To avoid the risk of forgetting something, I created a Quilt Retreat Checklist. Not all items are needed every time, however, it is a good starting point. I updated it this fall to reflect new safety protocols. If one of the Retreats has a quilt project, contest or challenge and it requires materials, be sure to include those. 

Assuming you will be in a large room in a hotel or banquet hall, become familiar with the limitations set by the venue. Can you bring snacks to be shared? Are individual irons allowed? Will everyone need an extension cord? Must all attendees show vaccination cards and wear masks? Is alcohol allowed in the work room or guest's rooms? 

Quilt Retreat Checklist

Personalize for your needs. Do remember to mark your possessions with your name or initials, quilters are sharers and it's easier to pack up when you can identify your tools. If you and a friend are rooming and sitting together, you may want to plan ahead of time what each of you will bring so you can share your tools if you want to.

Seasonally I decorate my work space and thankfully I have sisters and friends who indulge me.

Calico Cutters Quilt Guild's Retreat has 3 rules:

Sleep when you want to.

Eat when you want to.

Sew when you want to.

Shop when you want to.

Quilt Retreats should be fun, NO QUILT POLICE! You will make new friends and learn new things. 

Quilt Retreat 2018

Retreat by the Sea

Quilt Retreat 2017

Quilt Retreat 2016

 #quiltretreat #quiltretreatchecklist 

Monday, October 04, 2021

Count the Ways

Count The Ways: A Novel by Joyce Maynard. New York: Willam Morrow, 2021. 445 pages. ****

Eleanor and Cam meet at a crafts fair in Vermont in the mid-1970's. Eleanor is an artist and writer; Cam makes wooden bowls. Fast-forward and they have four children and are living on a New Hampshire farm.

Eleanor is writing and illustrating a successful series of children's books, Cam is making hand-turned bowls from tree burls. When the demand for their books and bowls slow down, and money worries surface, Eleanor resents Cam's cavalier attitude that somehow everything will work out. When tragedy strikes because of Cam's inattention while watching the kids, Eleanor becomes bitter and can't forgive him. 

This is the first book of Maynard's that I have read and once started I couldn't put it down. It is so easy to analyze their marriage from the sidelines, however, I'm not sure I could be as strong as Eleanor in not telling the children the true story. I suspect the ending (no spoilers here) will have a different impact depending on the age of the reader. I recommend this book for a Book Club especially one with readers of different ages. 

Joyce Maynard is the author of eighteen books, including the New York Times bestselling novel Labor Day,  and To Die For (both adapted for film), Under the Influence and the memoirs, At Home in the World  and The Best of Us.  

Joyce Maynard is currently at work on a book about her return to Yale University two and a half years ago as an undergraduate, forty-eight years after dropping out at age 18.  

Joyce Maynard's website.

Follow me on IG @flamazing_books

#counttheways #family #betrayal

Sunday, October 03, 2021

The Madness of Crowds

The Madness of Crowds (17th in the series) by Louise Penny. New York; Minotaur Books, 2021. 439 pages. *****

"Q & A With Louise Penny on The Madness of Crowds." "A Word About The Cover For The Madness of Crowds."

All will be well. Ca va bien alter.

Chief Inspector Gamache and his family are enjoying the holidays and are looking forward to the New Year. The Pandemic has been officially declared over and the residents of Three Pines are celebrating with friends and family in a way that would have been impossible a year ago. 

The fact that Gamache receives a new assignment to provide security for a professor of statistics who will be giving a lecture at a nearby university is puzzling on many levels. Complicating his assignment is the appearance of Haniya Dad, the Hero of the Sudan, who claims to have come to the village to meet someone, however, she won't divulge the person's name.  Is it Ruth or the Asshole Saint and why won't she tell them? New Year's Eve ends in murder, which only raises more questions - has the wrong person been killed, mistaken for someone else or is this a carefully crafted murder? 

Louise Penny's latest book packs a punch! I have read all of her books in this series and this one could have easily been divided into two novels. Inevitably, books published now will include Pandemic/Covid situations and themes. That's what I thought when I started The Madness of Crowds, however, it veers in a different direction. There are many sub themes and yet, are they? Who gets to decide who lives or dies, is it a matter of economy, convenience, or viability? I highly recommend this series and suggest starting at Still Life (book 1) even though her books can be read individually. 

Previous Book:

All the Devils Are Here

From Louise Penny

"I live outside a small village south of Montreal, quite close to the American border. My husband Michael and I have long had dogs, all golden retrievers. Bonnie, Maggie, Seamus, Trudy and now Bishop. Some came as puppies, some were adopted as adults. All beloved.

Michael and I were together for 22 years and married for 20. He was the inspiration for Armand Gamache. Kindly, thoughtful, generous, a man of courage and integrity, who both loved and accepted love. 

He developed dementia, and died peacefully at home in September 2016, surrounded by the love he'd put into the world for his 83 years. 

So now it's Bishop and me. But we're far from alone. We have the village, and all our friends including My Assistant Lise, and the indomitable, happy spirit of Michael. And, of course, the company of Armand, Clara, Ruth, Gabri and Olivier et al."

For more information on Louise Penny -

Follow me on IG @flamazing_books.

#gratitude #themadnessofcrowds 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

A Simple Murder


A Simple Murder: A Kate Burkholder Short Story Collection by Linda Castillo. New York: Minotaur Books, 2021. 406 pages.  ****

A collection of original short stories from her Kate Burkholder series of books. Fans of the series will recognize and enjoy reading about her main characters. If you haven't read the books, these short stories are a wonderful introduction and provide a quick glimpse at Castillo's writing style. Perfect for the beach, waiting to pick up your children, short periods of time, etc. 

Linda Castillo is The New York Times bestselling author of the Kate Burkholder novels. She is the recipient of numerous industry awards. In addition to writing Castillo's other passion is horses. She lives in Texas with her husband. For more information, click here.

Follow me on IG @flamazing_books

#kateburkholderseries #mysteryshortstories #amishfiction

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Wish You Were Here


Wish You Were Here: A Novel by Jodi Picoult. New York: Ballantine Books, 2021. 366 pages. ***** Publication November 30, 2021.

Diana O’Toole is right on track in her life. She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all while climbing the professional ladder in the art auction world.  She’s not engaged yet, but she knows her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident, is about to propose on their romantic getaway to the Galapagos—days before her thirtieth birthday. 

But then Covid begins to appear in the city. On the night before their trip, Finn breaks the news that he can't go. He must stay behind to work in the hospital. Their trip is nonrefundable, so Finn convinces Diana to go without him.

Diana is in shock when she gets there, and the island is evacuating. She decides to continue anyway and discovers that her luggage is lost, the hotel is closed, and the WIFI doesn't work. The island is under quarantine until the borders open again. She makes friends with a family on the island and begins to question her life's plan.

I read this book in one day. This is my first Covid Pandemic story, and it is well-written. Picoult's description of Finn's work in the hospital and the toll the pandemic took on the doctors and nurses was heart-wrenching. Communication between Diana and Finn is inconsistent and sporadic. Neither one can understand and empathize with the other's experience. Picoult's books force me to look inward, what would I do in a similar situation? There are so many people who probably have similar stories and experiences in the last year.  In her last two books, she focuses on life's choices and a "what if?" experience. I highly recommend Wish You Were Here  and I am already looking forward to her next one.

I received an ecopy for a review. 

Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-seven novels, including The Book of Two Ways, A Spark of Light, Small Great Things, Leaving Time, The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, and My Sister's Keeper, and, with daughter Samantha van Leer, two young adult novels, Between the Lines and Off the Page. For more information click here

Follow me on IG at flamazing_books

#wishyouwerehere #pandemicfiction #covidfiction 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

2021 Monthly Color Challenge - June

June - Pumpkin - Orange 


9 Impressive Health Benefits of Pumpkins

What are the Health Benefits of Pumkins

80 Best Pumpkin Decorations for an Easy, No-Carve Halloween Display

7 Delicious Ways to Use Pumpkin Seeds

This is the 6th block in the 2021 Monthly Color Challenge, you may find the block and instructions on Jen's blog, here.

Jen's patterns are clear and precise, make sure you look at the video too. In order to get my points centered, I ironed a crease down the center of the triangles and the square. 

Trim where indicated and your block should turn out beautifully!

If you don't have a 12.5 square ruler, it's not too late to purchase one. Very helpful when making these blocks.

These plastic boxes from Michael's are perfect for storing the blocks and the fabric. 


Make sure that you Link Up your block at the end of the month to win one of these great prizes!

Dragonfly’s Quilting Design Studio – Goodie Bag*

Bea Quilter – PDF Pattern

For the Love of Geese – PDF Pattern

True Blue Quilts – Book: Monochromatic Quilts Amazing Variety*

Make Modern Magazine – 6 month subscription

Island Batik – Fat Quarter Bundle*

Benartex – Fabric Bundle*

Quilters Dream Batting – 60 x 60 Dream Poly*

The Warm Company – 90 x 108 Warm and Plush 100% Cotton

Appliques Quilts and More – $10 gift certificate

Fat Quarter Shop – Gift Certificate

DayBrook Designs – 2 PDF Patterns

Patterns By Jen – Tucker Trimmer 1® ruler*

Follow me on IG at kathy.nester

#2021monthlycolorchallenge #junequiltblock #pumpkin #grateful

Monday, June 14, 2021

Hour of the Witch


Hour of the Witch: a Novel by Chris Bohjalian. New York:Doubleday, 2021. 400 pages *****

Seventeenth Century New England where every woman is suspected of being a witch. Twenty-four-year-old Mary Deerfield is the second wife of Tomas Deerfield, a cruel and powerful man, who rules his household with his fists. Thomas is very careful to treat his wife with kindness and respect when Catherine, the servant girl, or his daughter is present. Mary's life with Thomas becomes intolerable when he stabs her in the hand with a fork to see if she is a witch. Divorces are few in Puritan Boston, however, Mary fears for her life when Thomas is drunk and knows it is only a matter of time until he kills her. Will Mary be granted a divorce based on her injuries or will she be sent back to her angry and humiliated husband? 

I have always been interested in the Salem Witch Trials and wondered what was the true story? This book is fiction and not based on any one's life story, however I suspect it is a composite of people and circumstances that occurred frequently in this time and place. Given human nature the story is totally believable and it's a wonder anyone survived. Superstition mixed with jealousy, pettiness and cruelty, fueled the flames of religious wrath. Difficult to put down once started, yet I didn't want it to end and was fearful of Mary's fate. No spoilers here,  you'll have to read it to find out for yourself. Definitely add it to the top of your Reading List!


Witch Hunts in Puritan New England


Chris Bohjalian is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 22 books.  His work has been translated into 35 languages and become three movies and a TV series. His books have been chosen as Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Hartford Courant, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Bookpage, and Salon. For more info, click here.

Follow me on IG @flamazing_books

Suggested Summer Reading List

#historicalfiction  #witchcraft #puritannewenglandfiction

Sunday, June 06, 2021

The Four Winds


The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2021. 464 pages. ****

Texas 1921. Twenty-five-year-old Elsa Wolcott spends her time reading and daydreaming about adventures of her own. She feels like an outsider and thought ugly by her family. Elsa resents being considered a spinster, so she cuts her hair and sews a red silk dress. One rebellious night, she meets Raffaello Martinelli, and her life is changed forever. Considered ruined, her family wants nothing to do with her and marriage seems to be the only answer. Working on a farm is hard work, made more difficult by the disapproving looks from her mother-in-law. 

1934. People are out of work and a drought has settled in the Great Plains. Dust storms are relentless, crops are dead, water is drying up and store shelves are empty, Elsa makes the unfathomable decision to follow others and take her children and head towards California. Elsa's bravery is tested when those traveling are considered “Okies" and employers take advantage of them.

Receiving mixed reviews (socialism, political), I am perplexed by these reviews. I enjoyed this book and learned so much about the The Great Plains and the dust storms. "Roughly 2.5 million people left the Dust Bowl states—Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma—during the 1930s." I had no idea. Hannah writes a compelling story about a horrific time in our history. It is not a happy story; however, it is one that must be told. Heartbreaking, yet hopeful. This will be a good Book Club choice and will provide many points of discussion. I recommend you read it and decide for yourself. 

Information on the Dust Bowl:

The Dust Bowl, a film by Ken Burns

Kristin Hannah is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, Winter Garden, Night Road, and Firefly Lane.

Kristin is a former-lawyer-turned writer who lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. Her novel, Firefly Lane, became a runaway bestseller in 2009, a touchstone novel that brought women together, and The Nightingale, in 2015 was voted a best book of the year by Amazon, Buzzfeed, iTunes, Library Journal, Paste, The Wall Street Journal and The Week.  Additionally, the novel won the coveted Goodreads and People’s Choice Awards. The audiobook of The Nightingale won the Audiobook of the Year Award in the fiction category. For more information on Kristin Hannah and her books,

Follow my bookstagram in IG at flamazing_books

#historicalfiction #dustbowlfiction  #thegreatdepressionfiction 

Friday, June 04, 2021

Suggested Summer Reading 2021

Looking for something to read this summer?

Here are some of the books that I enjoyed and reviewed:

Eternal by Lisa Scottoline

Extraordinary Life of Sam Hill by Robert Dugoni

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Dare

The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku

The Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman

The Perfect Daughter by D. J. Palmer

Seven Perfect Things by Catherine Ryan Hyde

 The Woman With the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff

Follow me on IG @flamazing_books and on my Blog

The Girl with the Louding Voice


The Girl with the Louding Voice: a Novel by Abi Dare. New York, Dutton, 2020. 368 pages *****

Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who faces a bleak future: sold as a third wife to a vile old man.  The second wife befriends her and just as Adunni is adjusting to her new life, tragedy strikes. Adunni dreams of returning to school and getting an education and instead is sold as a domestic servant to Big Madam and Big Daddy. Rebecca, her predecessor, mysteriously disappeared and Adunni is determined to find out how and why. Big Daddy has his own ideas for Adunni's responsibilities despite his wife's violent tendencies. 

This book is an amazing coming-of-age debut novel. Adunni's voice is strong and clear in her quest to get an education and speak in a "louding voice" for other girls in a similar situation. The story is a complex one of cultural expectations and inequality. I loved Adunni's independence, spunk, and determination. I'm not sure whether Dare has planned a sequel, or this is a stand-alone novel, however, I want more! Once read, you will be telling your friends about it and recommending it to everyone. Add it to your summer reading list. 

For more information on Nigeria:

Abi Daré grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, and has lived in the UK for eighteen years. She studied law at the University of Wolverhampton and has an MSc in International Project Management from Glasgow Caledonian University as well as an MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London. The Girl with the Louding Voice won the Bath Novel Award for unpublished manuscripts in 2018 and was also selected as a finalist in the 2018 Literary Consultancy Pen Factor competition. Abi lives in Essex with her husband and two daughters, who inspired her to write her debut novel.

Suggested Summer Reading Books

#historicalfiction #bookstagram

Follow me on IG at flamazing_books

Sunday, May 23, 2021

The Happiest Man on Earth


The Happiest Man on Earth: The Beautiful Life of an Auschwitz Survivor by Eddie Jaku. New York: Harper, 2021. 198 pages. *****

Born in Leipzig, Germany, into a Jewish family, Eddie Jaku was a teenager when his world was turned upside down. On November 9, 1938--Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass--Eddie was beaten by SS thugs, arrested, and sent to a concentration camp with thousands of other Jews from across Germany. Every day for the next seven years, Eddie faced unimaginable horrors in Buchenwald, in Auschwitz, and finally on a forced death march during the Third Reich's last days. The Nazis took everything from Eddie--his family, his friends, and his country. 

While reliving the horrors of his experiences, Eddie also provides insight into his will to survive. He learned that " happiness does not fall from the sky; it is in your hands. Happiness comes from inside yourself and from the people you love." Calling himself The Happiest Man on Earth, Eddie looks for the good in people and wants the world to be a better place and for us never to give up hope. At 100 years old, his tenaciousness, kindness and generosity is an inspiration to all who reads or hears his story. I read this book in one day and highly recommend it. When I worked in a local high school Holocaust survivors visited the school each year and spoke to the students about their experiences. Eddie's book should be required reading for everyone. It will also be a powerful Graduation present. 

Eddie Jaku OAM was born Abraham Jakubowicz in Germany in 1920. In World War Two, Eddie was imprisoned in Buchenwald and Auschwitz concentration camps. In 1945, he was sent on a 'death march' but escaped. Finally he was rescued by Allied soldiers. In 1950 he moved with family to Australia where he has lived since. Eddie has volunteered at the Sydney Jewish Museum since its inception in 1992. Eddie has been married to his wife Flore for 74 years. They have two sons, grandchildren and great grandchildren. In 2020, Eddie celebrated his 100th birthday.

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Friday, May 21, 2021

The Guilt Trip


The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones. New York, Minatour Books, 2021. 320 pages. *****

Six friends are traveling to Portugal for Ali and Will's wedding. Even though they are friends, there is some tension in the group when they arrive at the airport and Ali cannot find her passport. Ali rubs Jack, Will's brother, the wrong way and Rachel, his wife, can't figure out why. Ali is flamboyant, flirty, loud, and likes to drink, however, Rachel is hoping to get to know her new sister-in-law better on this trip. The weekend takes a turn for the worse when Jack tells his wife and two of the friends that Ali is cheating on Will. When Rachel overhears Ali confide that she doesn't want any children after Ali tells Will she can't wait to start having babies, Rachel doesn't know what to do. With all of the lies and deceit, it is no surprise that the weekend ends in murder. 

I received an ecopy for a review.

Sandie Jones is a master of the psychological thriller and her latest book does not disappoint. I love it when I can't figure out who the good and bad guys are. Great for beach reading and Bookclub discussions.

Sandie Jones is the author of The Half Sister, The First Mistake and The Other Woman which is a Reese Witherspoon Bookclub Pick and New York Times bestseller. Her novels have featured in Entertainment Weekly, Good Morning America, Good Housekeeping, Prima and more. She lives in London with her husband and three children.

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#psychologicalthriller #mystery

Friday, May 14, 2021

Do No Harm


Do No Harm by Christina McDonald. New York, Gallery Books, 350 pages. 202.  *** Topics & Questions for Discussion. 

Emma and Nate lead an idyllic life, both working in their chosen careers and have an adorable five-year-old son. Emma is a doctor at the local hospital and Nate is a police detective. Neither make a lot of money and with Emma's medical school loans, money is tight. When their son, Josh, is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, their world comes crashing down. What will a parent do for their child? The medical bills mount and Emma in her quest for fast money throws aside her ethics as a doctor to enter the world of drugs.

Do No Harm is a quick read, perfect for summer. While unbelievable in parts of the plot, it was an interesting read and kept my attention throughout. I did find the ending somewhat unsatisfying. My sense of fairness wanted a different outcome. Does the end ever justify the means? 

Christina McDonald is the USA Today bestselling author of Do No Harm, Behind Every Lie and The Night Olivia Fell (Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books), which has been optioned for television by a major Hollywood studio.

Her writing has been featured in The Sunday Times, Dublin,, and Expedia. Originally from Seattle, WA, she has a BA in Communications from the University of Washington and an MA in Journalism from the National University of Ireland Galway. She now lives in London, England with her husband, two sons, and their dog, Tango. She’s currently working on her next novel. For more information

#thriller #psychologicalthriller

Sunday, May 09, 2021

The Perfect Daughter


The Perfect Daughter by D. J. Palmer. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2021. 384 pages. ****

When Grace finds four-year-old Penny abandoned in the park, she feels an immediate connection with her. Convincing her husband to adopt Penny isn't easy, however, Grace believes that Penny is the daughter she has always wanted. Flash forward to today, Sixteen-year-old Penny is discovered covered in blood, holding a weapon next to the corpse of her biological mother. Grace already has her hands full trying to keep the family pizza restaurant open, however, she is determined to do anything to prove Penny's innocence. Penny remembers nothing from that night, and she is confined in the state mental hospital awaiting a trial. While there she is treated by Dr. Mitchell McHugh to determine if she has Dissociative Identity Disorder. Is Penny a victim of multiple personalities or a master manipulator and a cold-blooded killer?

I love the many twists and turns of Palmer's plots. Penny's many personalities fascinate me in their uniqueness and believability. Grace's single-mindedness keeps her from seeing what's right in front of her. I kept telling myself just one more chapter and then I'll go to bed. Of course, I didn't and then it was done. Perfect escape reading, this story will suck you in and not let you go until you understand why the killer had no choice. 

I received an ecopy for a review.

Review of  Saving Meghan

For more information on D.J. Palmer, click here.

Daniel Palmer is the USA Today bestselling author of ten critically acclaimed suspense novels. He published his first novel, DELIRIOUS, after a decade-long career in e-commerce, where he helped launch first generation websites for major online retailers including Barnes & Noble and Dick Sporting Goods. Following the success of Daniel's publishing career, he founded DAY IN THE LIFE MEDIA, a video production and communication company committed to helping brands identify their brand heroes so they can tell stories in a way that directly impacts the bottom line. A recording artist, accomplished blues harmonica player, and lifelong Red Sox fan, Daniel lives in New Hampshire with his wife and two children.

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#psychologicalthriller #multiplepersonalities #murder #suspense #perfectdaughter 

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

The Woman with the Blue Star


The Woman with the Blue Star: a novel  by Pam Jenoff. Canada: Park Row Books, 2021. 336 pages. *****  Publication date May 4, 2021.

1942. Sadie Gault is eighteen and living with her parents amid the horrors of the Kraków Ghetto during World War II. When the Nazis clear the ghetto, Sadie and her pregnant mother are forced to seek refuge in the sewers beneath the city. Wet, dirty, no food, and sharing living quarters with another family is hauntingly brought to life by Jenoff. 

Ella Stepanek is a rich Polish girl living a life of relative ease with her stepmother, who entertains the occupying Germans. Lonely and scorned by her friends because of her stepmother's activities, Ella walks the streets longing for her fiancé, who has gone off to war. 

The two girls become aware of each other when Ella catches a glimpse of Sadie beneath the sewer grate in the street. Aware of the danger for each of them, a friendship forms between the two girls who grow to depend on each other for survival. One misstep and all of them will be shot. 

Unlike other World War II fiction books, Jenoff wrote this book during the Pandemic lockdown and captured the feeling of isolation and an uncertain future in her writing. If you have taken a break from Holocaust books, you will want to read this one. Jenoff states that the book was inspired by the true story of a small group of Jews who survived WWII in the sewers of Lviv, Poland. While her book is fictitious, it reads true. I was in the sewer feeling the fear, despair, and horror.  I asked myself several times, would I have survived?  This book is mesmerizing and engrossing, once started I couldn't stop reading even though I was fearful of how it would end. I recommend it as a Book Club choice with many discussion and research points. 

For more information on this subject:

Pam is the author of The Kommandant's Girl, which was an international bestseller and nominated for a Quill award, as well as The Winter Guest, The Diplomat's Wife, The Ambassador’s Daughter, Almost Home, A Hidden Affair and The Things We Cherished. She also authored a short story in the anthology Grand Central: Original Postwar Stories of Love and Reunion. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children.

For more information on Pam Jenoff, click here. 

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Monday, May 03, 2021

Boy Underground


Boy Underground by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Seattle: Lake Union Publishing, 2021. 336 pages. ***** Book Club Questions. Publication Date December 7, 2021. 

It's 1941, Steven Katz is the son of a wealthy landowner in California and has distanced himself from his school friends. While trying out for the high school baseball team to please his father, Steven meets Suki, the son of a field worker who introduces him to Nick and Ollie. The four become fast friends even though Steven knows his parents will not approve of his new friends, they become inseparable. Life in the United States is changing particularly in rural California. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor Steven and his friends each have their own challenges to face and overcome. Suki's family is relocated to an internment camp at Manzanar and forced to take only what they can carry. Ollie enlists in the Army and is gone before they know it. Nick is accused of brutally beating a man even though he has an alibi since he was camping with his three friends. The police aren't interested in where Nick says he was that night since it is his own father who claims his son did it. Steven suggests hiding Suki and Nick at his father's immense farm so that they will not be separated from each other. Only one of the boys takes him up on his offer and Steven hides him in the root cellar. Responsibility for his friend's every need begins to wear on Steven especially when his family is unconcerned and disconnected from what is happening to others because of the war. Staying true to his convictions isolates Steven and reinforces how different he is from his family and the people in town. Forced to make difficult and adult decisions, Steven finds his voice and to verbalize what's important to him. 

Hyde has taken a very difficult time in American history and a sensitive subject to explore through the friendship of four very different young men and their families. Hyde creates complex characters who clearly compliment each other and have strong voices that resonate throughout the story. Awakening feelings for the same sex are handled beautifully and suggest that this will make an excellent YA book. Family values are an integral part of each boy even when he has to overcome them to do what is right for him. 

Each of Hyde's books are unique and I love that she explores a sensitive topic (more than one) and always includes an animal with a pivotal role. I know that once started, I will not put her book down until the very end. I started Boy Underground on a flight from Orlando to Philadelphia and I finished it on the same day. 

Once again Hyde has written an excellent story about friendship, the kindness of strangers, family values and the strength and goodness of people. The fact that she can so eloquently express her character's thoughts and feelings provides insight to a time and place. As Churchill once said, "Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it."  

I received a copy for review. 

 Other Hyde books reviewed by me: 

Seven Perfect Things

My Name is Anton  

Brave Girl, Quiet Girl

Have You Seen Luis Velez?


 Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of forty published and forthcoming books. An avid traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer,  she shares her astrophotography with readers on her website. 

For more information about her and her books, click here

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#LGBTQfamilyfiction #LGBTQhistoricalfiction #friendshipfiction #boyunderground