Storey’s Guide to Keeping Honey Bees, 2nd edition

Glad to see this guide updated. Overall a solid book that would be at home on the shelves of public libraries, farm and garden stores, or to give as a gift to beginning beekeepers. This guide equips beekeeper0bbed8aa2bb37827b74af19bffb5bae5799745fds with practical advice. Some of the strong points include the overview of new research out of the University of Minnesota Bee Lab, overwintering techniques, and the value of bees as pollinators. Hives are now home to four types of inhabitants; the queen, workers, drones, and Varroa destructor. The authors emphasize the importance of staying current with strategies for managing the parasitic mites as well as other threats to bee health and the hive habitat. Candy boards were mentioned as winter feed, but only the hard candy processed at high temperatures. Fondant is more pliable and beekeepers report success with this winter feed as well. When beekeepers choose a mentor and join a bee club they will expand their skills and gain more confidence. The authors recommend this road map for future growth. The resources offered at the back are current and point readers to great resources for further information. The sidebar stories from experienced beekeepers boost reader appeal. The full color photos are well matched to the text.

Road to Magnolia Glen

978-1-4964-1594-3The Road to Magnolia Glen

Historical fiction fans will agree this is a five star series. I read The Road to Magnolia Glen, Book #2 in the Natchez Trace series . After just a few pages, I was digging into additional resources to find out more about Mississippi’s Natchez Trace. Its historical value is so vital that it is has been designated a National Parkway, managed by the National Park Service. A historical fiction book is always a winner when it prompts readers to go looking for more.

The immigrant experience is featured in this book. Natchez located on the Mississippi River is a crossroads of commerce. Immigrants with little means arrive as indentured servants and agree to work off the costs of their ocean passage. This story follows some indentured servants and others who arrived free of service obligations. A main character, Quinn O’Shea is a freeman ready to embark on a bright future. His intention is to unload his two younger siblings on his older brother and then strike out on his own. But Kiera Young, an indentured immigrant, wins his heart and his plans follow a different path.

Pam Hillman’s female characters are stars. Both Kiera and Isabella are problem solvers and resourceful. Readers will develop empathy for the colonial women’s plight, when they read about the obstacles these females must overcome. Kiera boards at Isabella’s plantation home and launches a stand where travelers along the Trace can secure food and modest lodgings. Stands along the Trace historically sprung up at intervals of a day’s travel. Kiera establishes a popular stand frequented by Trace travelers, as well as the loggers and field hands employed by Isabella and Connor at Breeze Hill Plantation.

Isabella and Connor are a couple that will capture your heart. They plan together, work together for common goals, and balance each other out in a charming way.

The cast of secondary characters drive the threats that have the potential to derail everything. A distraught father seems determined to harm Kiera’s sister because he holds her responsible for his son’s middle of the night elopement. The young couple’s disappearance sets in motion a search and rescue mission. The outcomes are likely to be vastly different based on who finds the couple first. The lecherous tavern keeper, Pierre Le Bonne, and his henchmen persist as ominous threats from beginning to end. Fans of inspirational historical romance will eagerly await the next installment in this series. I received a complimentary advanced reader’s copy from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. in exchange for my honest review.

Blind Betrayal

downloadThe plot draws you in immediately. When an environmentalist discovers collusion between a US Senator and a foreigner suspected of terrorism, he turns to a reporter to expose the corruption. The main emphasis of the story is focused on how US Marshals, Casey and E.J., will transport the reporter to testify before a grand jury. The plot thickens when life-threatening obstacles arise to prevent the reporter’s DC appearance. FBI imposters blow their cover and trigger a violent showdown. Casey and E.J. must now safeguard the reporter and themselves. One error in judgement or misplaced trust will cost them everything. They draw on their long careers in law enforcement to persevere through dire circumstances.

This is Book 3 in the Defenders of Justice series. The author writes with a brisk pace. She avoids side trips to restate events from previous novels. The title captures your curiosity and keeps you guessing until the end. You’re always wondering who will ultimately pull off a blind betrayal. The villains are sufficiently bad. Their web of deceit, illegal wrong-doings, and threatening behaviors keep the suspense taut. The good guys will not disappoint. One undercover agent proves trustworthy and is an essential ally.

Previously, Casey and E.J. had been partners in D.C. She left D.C. abruptly and moved to St. Louis, where the story reunites them. In D.C. Casey was in a relationship with E.J.’s best friend Jared. When Casey describes her relationship with Jared it’s clear why she leaves, but in my opinion one of her conclusions about this relationship is the only blemish in this story.

The surprise ending is full of tension. All subplots are resolved, and you can identify the characters who choose to betray their co-conspirators for personal gain. I received a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

Hope Harbor Series: Sea Rose Lane

727542Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon is a book to love and recommend with enthusiasm. One noteworthy aspect of Irene’s novel is her cast of multi-generational characters. You warm up to her characters immediately and root for them through all their ups and downs. The center stage love story involves the main characters BJ Stevens and Eric Nash. They are realistic characters, smart, and mature. They are looking to center their future lives on what’s most important for long term happiness and peace of mind. Previously they have chased fame and fortune only to have these paths end in disappointment. How do our main characters meet? In a car crash. Eric glances at his cell phone for a minute and misses the abrupt stop BJ made with her pick-up truck to avoid a dog. As the rest of the story unfolds, their hearts collide. Their first acrimonious meeting is a forgotten memory. They get to know each other through volunteer work. They proceed with caution at first. Each knowing that Eric’s stay in Hope Harbor may not be permanent. At the story’s end, BJ and Eric choose to build a life together in Hope Harbor and make a life-time commitment.

In Sea Rose Lane, the senior characters long for finding purpose and companionship. John Nash, a widower, renovates the family home into the Seabird Inn B & B. He will cook for the guests, treat them to great hospitality, and find a vibrant life after the death of his beloved wife. Eleanor, the most senior character, is a widow limited by arthritis to a walker. The plot developments that answer her needs for companionship and purpose are heart-warming. The series is called Hope Harbor and Eleanor’s story is proof that hope abounds.

Between the pages, Irene Hannon also shines a light on the challenges surrounding immigrants. Their struggles to overcome prejudice and their constant anxiety surrounding having the right paperwork to keep employment and secure housing in the US.

This book was on my TBR shelf. It’s book #2 in the series and I’m ready to jump into Pelican Point, Book #4

Where the Fire Falls – A National Park Vintage Novel by Karen Barnett

A superior five star plot based in a magnificent setting. Burning coals shoveled off cliffs f51iQ+auYDwL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_or star-fall like evening entertainment is not the only activity where the temperature is rising. The smoldering romance between Olivia and Clark ignites into a genuine love story. As their relationship heats up, they forge a lasting bond based on their true selves. Each character experiences betrayal and dashed dreams, but finds healing in beautiful Yosemite National Park. The subplots and lingering mysteries keep you guessing until all is revealed at the story’s end.

Christian themes are woven expertly into this story. Clark says, “Olivia, you’re never alone.” Echoing the sentiment behind Hebrew 13:5. As you watch the main characters’ plot lines work out for good, you recall that God has a plan for each life, and while you may not see it now, you can trust that God loves you as his heir and intends for you to find your way back to him. The dialogue describing how grace differs from disgrace is heartwarming and original. You’ll remember this exchange long after you finish the book.

This title is book two in Karen Barnett’s Vintage National Parks series. The attention to detail she has given to establish the correct time period reflects a high level of research. The musical references, hairstyles, and male and female attire are right out of the late 1920’s.

You’ll be glad you spent time in Yosemite National Park with Barnett’s novel. It’s as grand as the park itself. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher for my honest review. This book is available in early June.

The Golden Vial

51pJ6lVnHYL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Thomas Locke is a pseudonym used by David Bunn. Books authored by Locke fit in the genre epic fantasy or techno thrillers. I received a complimentary copy of The Golden Vial – Legends of the Realm Book #3 to review. This book meets your expectations for an epic fantasy. Battle lines are drawn and the forces of good build alliances to defeat the evil. As the quest to preserve the current world order unfolds, readers will meet wizards, mages, elves, and more. On one hand, it may seem different for a Christian publishing company to present a book with wizards and sorcery. But there are elements that mirror the plot details of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. It’s imaginative and fast paced. Thomas Locke writes with flair and great word choice.

If you’re a fan of strategy, you’ll appreciate the quote, “No matter how wise a leader might be, good fortune must still play a role.”

Readers will find the main character Dally’s story compelling. At one point, these words are repeated to her, “You have a good heart, young lady. It will take you far.” Dally has a far-seeing ability that drives the plot in multiple instances.

In the tradition other noteworthy epic fantasy books, the setting is all important. A map helps readers visualize the layout of the Realms. Fans of this genre will be pleased with the plot, strong characters, and fantasy elements.

A Borrowed Dream

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A Borrowed Dream by Amanda Cabot

At various points throughout the book, two main characters pause and sample fudge recipes. This is a great sensory strategy that immediately draws you right into the plot of A Borrowed Dream by Amanda Cabot. How fun that Lydia, a confectioner, is married to Travis, the Sheriff of this Texas town. Lydia and her good friend, Catherine, share important updates at the Candy Shop. They’re confidants and their frequent check-in’s keep the plot moving. Amanda Cabot gives us a strong cast of characters to warm up to as well as some reprobates to spurn. The characters’ entrance into the storyline is well timed and their dialogue keeps the story moving.

I appreciate that Cabot reveals plot details in a manner that resembles peeling back the layers of something edible. Step by step, she eases you into the various plot twists. This is book two in a trilogy. I had not read book one, but I easily jumped into the story.

There’s a love story for Catherine. Yet this is not the only emotional journey she travels. She must overcome resentment and find forgiveness for one character who figures prominently in her life. Readers will appreciate that she eventually understands what her Mama had told her, “Forgiveness helps you.”

The setting is 1881 in the small town of Cimarron Creek, Texas. There is a Wild West flavor to some of the story. Our main character, Catherine, is an independent problem solver who also works as the local school teacher. Overall, I found this book satisfying to read. Some questions I had about historical details were answered in the author notes.