book review

The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side


I listen to audiobooks all the time, in my car and when I walk.  Usually it’s an exciting suspense or interesting non-fiction.  This week it was The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side by Agatha Christie, and as an audiobook I heard via my phone, the old tale was fresh and new all over again, with Miss Marple coming alive as never before.

As the story opens Miss Marple has advanced in years and her little town of Saint Mary Mead has grown to include a ‘development’, a collection of new homes just outside of town; increasing the size and population of what was once a sweet rural town. Miss Marple, at 86, is more housebound than in previous novels but she still has her friends, neighbors, and relatives from whom to glean information.

With the help of Mrs. Gantry, who once owned Gossington Hall and now the scene of an unexpected death, and her nephew the police inspector, Mrs. Marple uses her wit and wiles to discover  what really happened the day a local woman, Heather Babcock, is killed while visiting the Hall for a benefit. Was it an accident? Or was it … murder?

The book’s title The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side references a poem by Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Lady of Shalot, which is boldly recited by  Miss Marple several times in the novel, foreshadowing the killing as well as presenting a clue to motive.

“The mirror crack’d from side to side;
‘The curse is come upon me,’ cried
       The Lady of Shalott.”

Because it’s written by Agatha Christie this book is chock full of interesting characters with hidden agendas, and definitely worth the read.  Folks who steer clear of Christie thinking her books can’t compare to more contemporary mysteries will be pleasantly surprised: it’s more modern than you might think.  And please enjoy Miss Marple. I did.  Her wit and wisdom warmed me the way I would if I had been visiting my grandmother.  Miss Marple is determinedly independent, politely outspoken, and altogether lovely.


Reviewed by Leigh





book review, cattle mutilation, electrocution, Fiction, kidnapping, Mystery Review, Nebraska, school outbreak, suspense

Hotwire: A Maggie O’Dell Novel


I’d been in a dry spell, with nothing good to read, when a coworker recommended Alex Kava.   The novel I chose to read by Kava was Hotwire : A Maggie O’Dell Novel.

Maggie O’Dell is a FBI agent, who as the story opens, has been asked to speak at a conference on her specialty: forensics. But when she arrives in rural Nebraska, Maggie receives a call from her boss telling her to put the conference on hold a day to help  local law enforcement.  In many small midwestern towns cows often outnumber the people living there. This makes it difficult for these towns to afford their own forensic departments, so they must rely on state and federal  resources for assistance. That said, Maggie finds it odd to be called on to investigate a cow mutilation.  Even more unusual is the fact the carcass is completely drained of blood, with one eye missing and the poor animal’s legs raised towards the sky.

What is thought to be a government cover-up by the cattle ranchers, and part alien invasion by more creative residents, has Maggie stumped. And when local teenagers begin to die under mysterious circumstances Maggie decides to stay on to further her investigation, conference or no.  Later, when the body of yet another teen is found she is so puzzled  Maggie feels the need for a break.  Running down a secluded country road Maggie turns to see an old truck pulling to a stop at the top a hill. It guns its’ motor. Within seconds Maggie is run down, electrocuted, and kidnapped.

Meanwhile, across the country a strange outbreak occurs in Norfolk, VA and moves through several schools, making elementary students violently ill.  Maggie’s boyfriend, Colonel Benjamin Platt races the clock to discover just what is making the children sick, and hopefully discover an antidote.

How the author links these seemingly random events makes Hotwire an exciting read. Maggie O’Dell is a resourceful character with lots of experience from which to draw and being independent as well means she doesn’t depend on her boyfriend to rescue her from the kidnappers.

I enjoyed Hotwire.  It was a fun, fast-paced novel, with enough science and real life scenarios to keep me guessing.  While the epilogue didn’t pull all the events together as well as I would have liked, I was still satisfied with the results.  I plan to read another Maggie O’Dell novel, just to see what happens next!


Reviewed by Leigh


Alex Kava


book review, Heath, Nutritarian

The END of Heart Disease

Heart Disease

Hello Dear Readers,

You know by now that reading books on cooking and nutrition is one of my passions and reading Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s books is a must.  I own a copy of one of his first works on the Nutritarian plan, Eat to Live – The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss.  Basically Dr. Fuhrman advocates eating a primarily vegan diet with minor servings of animal products (if you must): beans, greens, cruciferous vegetables, fruits, small grain servings, nuts and seeds.

“Nutritional excellence, which involves eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and beans, does not have to exclude all animal products, but it has to be very rich in high-nutrient plant foods (which should make up well over 80 % of your calorie intake.) No more than 10 % of your total calories should come from animal foods.”

Dr. Fuhrman’s plan is very strict and to be honest, it’s difficult for me to follow. I use it as more of a guide to eating a healthier diet.  In the last few years, with all the new books being published I had strayed away from Eat to Live.  For example, I recently I told you about The Stash Plan  But Dr. Fuhrman’s new book, The End of Heart Disease – The Eat to LIve Plan To Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease has inspired me again.

This book is written to prevent and heal heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the US. Dr. Fuhrman believes 90 % of heart disease related deaths are preventable simply by taking care of yourself. Eating a diet based on plants and vegetables with a strong emphasis on nuts and seeds can make all the difference.

If you have one take away from this: eat a daily serving of walnuts, hemp, chia, or flax seeds. Walnuts, in particular, have the ability to increase your life span, reduce cardiovascular deaths, remove cholesterol from the body, lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, prevent aging in the brain cells and enhance brain viability.  Amazing right? What pill can do all that?

This book is not an easy read for the lay person; it took me some time, and I continue to refer back to it for the little tips like the one I just gave you on walnuts, but it’s worth the effort. Dr. Fuhrman includes plenty of recipes, as well as a special plan for those sick with heart disease or who are very over weight and need immediate help to begin healing.  The End of Heart Disease includes the latest scientific research to support Dr. Fuhrman’s belief that you can not only prevent, but actually heal and reverse heart disease.  He can’t do it for you, but he can show you how.



Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

eateat 2



book review

The Raven Boys


Maggie Steifvater, author of  The Raven Boys , is an extremely talented young woman who is not only a writer, but an artist, videographer, musician and loves sports cars.  She began writing when she was a teenager and hasn’t quit.   On, this book was given some of bad reviews by adults who felt it was too reminiscent of other teen reads; they found it boring and ordinary.  I don’t know what book they were reading, but it wasn’t the one I read! While some billed it as just another teen romance with the girl torn between two boys,  The Raven Boys ia actually more of a mystery, and a ghost story of sorts. It’s the search for truth wherever it leads.

The Raven Boys is about four young men in private school searching ley lines in Northern Virginia in hopes of solving a mystery. Meanwhile Blue is growing up in a family of psychics. Blue has no power of her own,  but acts as a conduit or amplifier when her mother Maura performs psychic readings, allowing more  access to the paranormal.

The problem with Blue is the multiple predictions regarding her future: if Blue meets her true love and kisses him, he will die, thus Blue has avoided boys all her life, especially the boys from Aglionby Academy , the private school in her hometown of Henrietta, Virginia.

Enter The Raven Boys, so-called because the school mascot is the raven.

  • Ganzy is the ringleader, wealthy beyond words and driving a hot orange Camaro.
  • Adam is attending  Aglionby on a partial scholarship,  working three jobs to pay his way, and avoid his abusive father.
  • Noah is shy, unassuming and acts as the touchstone for the group.
  • And Ronan, who is continually fighting with his brother and grieving the death of this father, has so much anger it threatens constant eruption.

As the Raven boys begin their search for the ley lines that promise to allow them to locate the mysterious mythical Welsh King Glendower, the boys visit Maura for their psychic reading only to discover Blue there as well.  Maura performs a Tarot reading for them, but worries that one of these young men may be her daughter’s undoing and so does not share all she knows.  When a body is discovered in the woods and a murderer comes  into the open, all the boys have discovered may be lost.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater is intriguing, and suspenseful. I was fascinated by the search for  Glendower and the promise that whomever wakes the king from his centuries old sleep will be granted a favor. The Raven Boys is worth the read, and if you can listen to the audio version then you have a real treat in store.  Will Patton, a well-known actor who is also an amazing reader with an authentic Southern accent, has a real ear for other voices as well.   As a side note you can go online to see Maggie’s animation and music created for  The Raven Boys, which is something she does for all her books. Visit Maggie Steifvater at her website for her latest work.

4 daisy rating


Reviewed by Leigh

leigh 2


For more on The Raven Cycle see:



raven 2raven 1

For more information on ley lines:



book review, family, Fiction

A Man Called Ove: A Novel


Chances are you have either already read this book for your book club or you have heard about it from a neighbor or friend. It was a customer who told me about it and said it was one of the best books she had ever read.  I thought, ‘Wow, I’ve got to read this book’.  If you haven’t, you should.  The book is witty, sad, sweet, and philosophical.

Set in suburban Sweden, poor Ove (pronounced ‘ooo-va’) is having difficulty adjusting to the death of his wife, and then the loss of his job. Trying to find his place in society again, he decides killing himself would simply be easier.  As he progresses to planning this new task Ove is met by obstacles aplenty in the form of pregnant women, little girls, inept homeowners and bike repairers, and one lone, mangled cat, all of whom distract him from his purpose.

How would you feel if the woman you loved, who was your whole world, left you alone with idiotic people of no consequence? If you are Ove, you just want to leave, but you have to do it correctly: wear the right suit; or if you decide against hanging and decide on a rifle blast, then just wear your underwear; lay down plastic sheeting so the emergency squad wont track mud all over the living room floor; cancel your phone and your paper; and try, seriously try, not to answer the door because everyone wants something from you.

The first time I began this book, I put it down. The second time, once I got past Ove’s anger and gruffness, I was able to see him the way his neighbors do: a man who needs to give life another try. A Man Called Ove is not maudlin, but sweet and moving.  It left me feeling satisfied, and yet bereft when I turned the last page.  I will miss Ove and the characters in this book.  Of course, I can always visit again…

5 daisies

Reviewed by Leigh

leigh 2


Fredric Backman