Quick Review: THE MINOR ADJUSTMENT BEAUTY SALON by Alexander McCall Smith

I love the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books, and number 14 came out this fall. I bought it for my husband for his birthday and just read it this weekend myself. It’s another “cozy” home run for this popular series.

This time, Grace and Phuti are expecting their first child. Will motherhood change Mma Makutsi, and will she want to stay at the agency now that she has a baby? Meanwhile, Precious is investigating two cases: an inheritance case where she needs to determine if the claimant is legitimate, and a beauty salon that is the victim of an anonymous slur campaign.

I really enjoy this series and look forward to more installments from Mr. Smith!

Review: CHRISTMAS IN APPLE RIDGE by Cindy Woodsmall

Through Blogging for Books and Water Brook Press, a Christian publisher, I received the three-in-one volume of CHRISTMAS IN APPLE RIDGE by Cindy Woodsmall to review. Apparently, the first two books were previously published in recent years, and the third is a new novella. I had never read anything by Cindy Woodsmall before, and these books all take place in the Amish community of Apple Ridge, PA. Before I began blogging, I actually did not realize “Amish” was a genre, seemingly under the larger heading of “Christian Romance”. This was new to me, but I have to say that I find these stories rather compelling. It’s comforting to think that in today’s hectic, crazed world there is a community that lives honestly and simply, in tune with nature and committed to their faith.

Each of these stories is inter-related, with characters overlapping, and in each the two central characters need to overcome past demons and emotional hurdles in order to find their soul mate. “The Sound of Sleigh Bells”, “The Christmas Singing”, and “The Dawn of Christmas” are the three novellas. They all center around Christmastime and a happy ending is guaranteed.

Recommended to those who enjoy this genre.

Thanks, Water Brook Publishers and Blogging for Books, for my copy!

Saturday Snapshot: Getting Ready for Xmas!

I haven’t posted in a while because I had a really busy fall, what with school, work, and being in a local production of Les Miserables.
Here are some shots from our house, where we are preparing for Christmas:


Our tree is a balsam this year. As you see, our angel does not want to stay put!


The children have their own tree for their ornaments. It’s artificial and goes in the family room, where they play.


The stockings are already hung by the chimney with care!IMG_1740And the Xmas train is in the front yard!

Happy Holidays to those celebrating!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at http://www.westmetromommy.blogspot.com. Please see her website for posting/participating info.

My Favorite Reads of 2013

It’s that time of year! Everywhere you look, “best of” lists are coming out. Best Books, Best Movies, Best Songs, Best Moments in Sports, etc. etc. Personally, I won’t assume that I have the power to individually say what’s best (plus I’m a big believer of “to each his own”). Instead, I would like to share what my personal favorite reads were this year. There were lots of books that I read and enjoyed this year, but these books stayed with me either because I loved the characters, or I couldn’t put the book down, or I thought it was incredibly well-written, or a combination of these things.

So here I give you – my favorite reading experiences for 2013 (reviews of all can be found on this blog):


The Maggie Hope series by Susan Elia MacNeal

The Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen

The Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley


Twerp by Mark Goldblatt

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender

Historical Fiction:

The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian

The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin

Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck

The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon

I Shall be Near to You by Lindsay McCabe


Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg


The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel


If you read me, you know I LOVE the Flavia de Luce mysteries – focusing on the humorous exploits and detective work of a precocious eleven-year-old chemist in the 1950’s British countryside.  Book 5 is coming out in January and I was thrilled beyond belief to get it from Net Galley (adding to my thrill was a tweet from Flavia herself saying she hoped I liked it!).


THE DEAD IN THEIR VAULTED ARCHES takes up where the last book left off: Flavia and her family are notified that her long-lost mother, Harriet, has been found and is heading home. However, when Flavia’s family arrives at the train station, it is Harriet’s body that is returning home, not Harriet herself. How exactly did Harriet die on her mountain hiking expedition? And who was with her? What was she hiding? Who is the mysterious young man who whispers to Flavia and then has an “accident” and falls under the oncoming train? And why is the great man, Churchill, himself speaking to Flavia in what appears to be code??Flavia sets about getting to the bottom of mystery of her mother’s death; but first she seeks to use her beloved chemistry in an attempt to bring her mother back to life.

Once again, I enjoyed Flavia’s exploits and especially her uniquely intellectual voice and dry witticisms that had me laughing out loud while reading! Flavia’s attempt to bring her mother back was so poignant – there is hardly anything so heart-wrenching as a young child who yearns for their deceased mother. This time the de Luce family is shown in more of their moral and emotional complexity, and you come to know them as a family torn asunder from the loss of Harriet. Along with this is a rollicking mystery of the family’s involvement with WWII, and a finale that makes the reader think that while we will hear more from Flavia, it won’t be same as when she is toodling around the family estate.

While the first book in this series remains my most favorite, I recommend this to readers of the series. I find the stories follow best if you read them in order.

Thank you, Net Galley and Delacorte Press, for my copy!!


A while ago (longer than I care to admit), I received a download of Laura Shofer’s novel, THE FINGERPRINT OF DESTINY, from her. Due to an odd issue with my Kindle (where it shuffled my hundreds of novels!) I “lost” it and only recently rediscovered it. This novel has a little bit of something for everyone and I really enjoyed reading it!

THE FINGERPRINT OF DESTINY starts with a fire (arson) with deaths involved in the Hope’s Point area of Long Island. Ellie Sinclair goes to cover the fire (which isn’t the first that has occurred in this area of late) for her newspaper and discovers that her estranged mother is among the victims. This starts a series of events where Ellie digs to find the truth, but also digs up old emotions, an old romance,  and memories of her “crazy” mother as she was growing up and their complicated relationship. Ellie is scrappy and tough, though somewhat dysfunctional and has a drinking problem. Add in some historical passages tracing Ellie’s Venezuelan heritage and the “fingerprint of destiny”, a few tough Latino gangs, a mystery, and some supernatural thrills and you’ve got the makings for this story!

I enjoyed reading this novel, the first for Ms. Shofer, and found it engrossing and well-written. I think it has such a variety of happenings that many will find it and its “mash-up genre” appealing!