Ghosts of Painting Past (An Aurora Anderson Mystery) by Sybil Johnson
Christmas in Vista Beach in sunny California is filled with sandmen instead of snowmen in the new Aurora Anderson cozy mystery, Ghosts of Painting Past. Rory is working on a programming job in her home office when a body is found across the street during the teardown of the Zeppelin House. Along with the skeleton, a tole-painted heart was also found. Who was the victim? Why was he killed? What other dominos will fall within the town now that the body has been unearthed? When Rory’s father, Swan, is suspected of the crime, Rory must work with her best friend real estate agent, Liz, to solve the mystery. All while not angering her detective boyfriend, Martin.
I utterly adored that the conclusion of Ghosts of Painting Past tied up every loose end of the plot. There were so many different mysteries here that I was impressed that the author provided a clear end to each of them in the last few chapters. While discovering whodunit wasn’t very difficult, I enjoyed meeting the Anderson clan and respected their family’s closeness. Rory’s nervousness about meeting her boyfriend Martin’s parents is understandable and thoroughly relatable. Growing up in my own Los Angeles County beach community, I can assure everyone that it is very realistic (though I never created a sandman—because to Californians, the 50-degree Winter weather on the beach is freezing and best avoided, lol). I loved the characters in this book and will be anxiously awaiting the next book in the series. 4 stars!
Thanks to Henery Press and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below for one of three copies of the Kindle book!
It’s Christmastime in the quiet Los Angeles County city of Vista Beach, home of computer programmer and tole-painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson. The magic of the season fills the air as residents enjoy school concerts, a pier lighting ceremony and the annual sand-snowman contest.
During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Rory plans on painting ornaments to sell at the local craft fair and joining in on the holiday fun. But she finds the season anything but jolly after the house across the street is torn down, revealing a decades old crime. Past meets present when her father is implicated in the murder.
Fearing for her father’s future, Rory launches her own investigation, intent on discovering the truth and clearing his name.
About Sybil Johnson
Sybil Johnson’s love affair with reading began in kindergarten with “The Three Little Pigs.” Visits to the library introduced her to Encyclopedia Brown, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and a host of other characters. Fast forward to college where she continued reading while studying Computer Science. After a rewarding career in the computer industry, Sybil decided to try her hand at writing mysteries. Her short fiction has appeared in Mysterical-E and Spinetingler Magazine, among others. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in Southern California where she enjoys tole painting, studying ancient languages and spending time with friends and family.
If you want to have a more active and pain-free life even though you hate exercise and sit down all day at work (like me so no judging here), you need to read Stretching for Beginners.
The book is filled with sixty-seven easy stretching exercises with easy-to-follow colorful illustrations and instructions targeted at individual areas of the body. Each exercise has sections explaining what the exercise is good for, hints to follow, and how to level up the stretch when you become acclimatized to the basic level. At the back of the book, there are routines of exercises focused on everyday stretches, stretches for aches and pains, and stretches to strengthen the ability to play specific sports. My favorite routine is the 10-15 minute office stretches, which is perfect for a single break time. No laying on the dirty office carpeting. Everything is done standing up. There are only five stretches, which even the couch potato inside of me can commit to. Kudos to the authors for calling “Driving” a sport. I’m an athlete and I didn’t even know it!
Overall, if you aren’t active Stretching for Beginners is a good starting point for a New Year’s Resolution. The speed and simplicity of the stretches will motivate all but the most unmotivated to continue the program. 5 stars!
Thanks to Rockridge Press and Callisto Publishing for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
The Essential Air Fryer Cookbook has a massive amount of recipes. Basically, any dish you have ever heard of is included. And don’t assume they are the traditional fried foods either. This cookbook includes cheesecake, roasted fennel salad, French onion soup, chili cheese dogs, corn on the cob, and even ham and eggs. Most countries are also represented by Scotch eggs, curried sweet-and-spicy scallops, coconut jerk chicken, crispy pierogi with kielbasa and onions, fried wontons, chicken gyros, croquet monsieur, easy carnitas, miso-rubbed salmon fillets, pork schnitzel, to Moroccan-spiced carrots. Variety is not an issue here.
This cookbook bends over backward to be usable no matter what size, type, or brand of air fryer you have. It includes tags for fast, easy, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, can be gluten-free (a hint to check the pre-made ingredient labels), and the number of ingredients needed. There are also pairings listed from drinks to sauces to other recipes within the book.
However, before you agree with the book’s cover and decide this is “the only book you need”, there are three negatives to the book. It has no nutritional information, including calories, for the recipes. It only has a few recipe pictures in the back. There is no way to look for just vegan (or any other tag listed above) recipes throughout the book. Hopefully, the index that wasn’t included in my advanced copy will contain a way to do it.
With over 300 extremely varied recipes, the Essential Air Fryer Cookbook makes up for the deficiencies I named earlier. 4 stars and happy air frying!
Thanks to Voracious; Little, Brown & Company; and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Detroit was Broke. Through seven people’s stories, the author attempts to explain what went wrong, what went right, and what was the end result of Detroit’s trip through the Great Depression and bankruptcy.
Detroit was an urban oasis of jobs and industrial might until the 1960s. Then, race riots encouraged white flight to the suburbs reducing tax revenues. Deindustrialization and movement of factory jobs to other lower-wage countries decimated jobs in the city. Lack of jobs led to increased crime and mortgage defaults, which led to abandoned houses and squatters making them unsellable. Lack of jobs also forced subpar credit scores on local residents.
All of these factors led to opportunists buying these houses cheaply in bulk. After repackaging them, the investors used predatory lending practices to sell them to local residents who could not qualify for bank loans. The new homeowners were at an increased risk of default making them defacto renters of properties they were required to bring up to livable condition. And one missed payment and they were out with all their previous payments, improvements, and sweat equity lost with no legal recourse.
In the meantime, city government was forced into bankruptcy by the state. 30% of city jobs were cut. City bonds went into junk status making getting money substantially more expensive just when tax revenues were cratering due to the city resident issues detailed above.
How Detroit turned itself around from this domino effect of disaster after disaster makes an empowering read. The author attempts to not point the finger at race and Republicans for Detroit’s issues with minimal success. However, there were many issues caused by globalization and the economic crash that were clearly out of the city’s control. Overall, Broke is an intriguing story of failure, resilience, and hope—both individually through the seven people’s stories and on a national scale. 4 stars!
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
“Lark was a religious community: participation was expected, baptism a stipulation.” “…but soon the fog would descend, making Lark unreachable. Unleavable. There would be no more ships until April.”—from Impossible Causes.
Atmospheric combination of The Village and Carrie sets the scene in this coming-of-age gothic horror thriller. I expected to love Impossible Causes. But somehow I never fully believed the plot. However, if you like a heavy atmosphere and some of the lesser M. Night Shyamalan movies, you may enjoy it. 3 stars.
Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Filled with beautiful photographs of The World at Night, this book also highlights some of the world’s most beautiful places. From Stonehenge to Red Square to Mount Everest, all the photos highlight the night sky. There are pictures of star trails and eclipse paths captured with camera wizardry. It is surprising how much color a camera lens picks up in an aurora that is not seen by the naked eye.
Whether you want to marvel at the pictures or perhaps take some for yourself, The World at Night has you covered. There is an explanation of how each shot was taken. In addition, there is a chapter explaining what you need to be your own astrophotographer. Plus a compelling section on how light pollution is ruining the feeling of awe and connectedness shared by mankind with our ancestors when gazing at a star-filled sky. 4 stars!
Thanks to White Lion Publishing, Quarto Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Daniel is the owner of a failing bookstore trying to solve all his problems through obsessive list making in Twenty-one Truths about Love.
It’s hard to be Daniel. He loves his pregnant wife but constantly lies to her about the profitability of his business. He is worried about his ability to be a father, and basically all other aspects of his life. He not only sees the glass half-empty, it is broken on the floor and he has just cut his bare foot on it. While he wastes many hours making lists instead of reading marketing books (for his bookstore) or self-help books (for his sanity), the lists are always witty and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.
It is almost impossible for a reviewer to not create his or her own list about their feelings about Twenty-one Truths about Love. Here is mine:
Loved the format using lists exclusively.
Liked the humor.
Disliked the main character, Daniel, increasingly as the story moved forward.
Hated the ending.
Despite my list above, I still recommend the book for readers who like subtle (read as real) romance, are obsessive list makers like me, or just want to read a book in a completely different format. Now, I’m going to be worrying that I should have made the last sentence into a list. Oh no, have I caught Daniel’s obsessive overthinking? Give this quick read a try and you too can become obsessive. 4 stars!
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Goodreads for a copy I won in a Goodreads giveaway.