Review of Turn Your Setbacks Into Comebacks by Rick McDaniel

Turn Your Setbacks Into Comebacks is a book of strategies for starting fresh after a setback. The author discusses several types of comebacks that include:

  • Financial Comebacks
  • Relational Comebacks
  • Career Comebacks
  • Health Comebacks
  • Spiritual Comebacks

There are also chapters that address reasons and lessons for setbacks, as well as the different components to comebacks.

Since the author has written this book from a Christian perspective, and he’s the founder and Senior Pastor of the Richmond Community Church in VA, the book leans heavily on God, the Bible and spiritual matters. However, I would not call this book “preachy”.

The author did a wonderful job of including plenty of real life stories to make his point. I found guidance and strength from the author’s words. There were several times when the writing spoke directly to me and I found value in this.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wishes to move past a setback in order to experience the comeback they’ve prayed for.

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton


Book Review of A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson


A Talent for Murder is a fictionalized account of the 1926 mysterious ten-day disappearance of author Agatha Christie. Christie never spoke about those ten days and the event remains a mystery to this day. Wilson weaves a tale of extortion and murder as the backdrop to this strange and intriguing piece of Agatha Christie’s life.

When I saw this book at my local library, I knew it was next on my TBR list. I’m a huge Agatha Christie fan and I’ve always found Christie’s mysterious disappearance interesting. Unfortunately, this book did not live up to its promise of being “an utterly compelling and convincing story around this still unsolved mystery involving the world’s bestselling novelist.” I didn’t find it all convincing.

The idea that someone (Dr. Kurs) could blackmail Agatha Christie into murdering his wife simply by threatening to go public with the story of Archie Christie’s infidelity was ridiculous in my opinion. Sure, there were a few mentions of harm to Agatha’s young daughter, but those seemed a little too thin to be believable. However, when Agatha receives a blood-soaked severed dog paw (meant to make Agatha that her beloved dog Peter has been murdered), I’d had enough. Anything that deals with harm to animals is a definite deal breaker for me.

The book is incredibly slow and tedious. I found the banter between the two minor characters, Una and Davison, ridiculous and unnecessary. As much as I tried to read through to the end of this book, I just could not do it. Life is too short to read books that I just can’t manage to enjoy.

2 of 5 Stars, Susan Barton

Review of Harbour Street by Ann Cleeves


Seventy-year-old Margaret Krukowski is murdered on the Metro, shortly before the Christmas holiday. Detective Joe Ashworth and his daughter Jessie are on their way home in the same Metro car when the murder occurs. Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope welcomes the murder investigation since she’s not at all looking forward to the Christmas festivities. But when town prostitute Dee is also murdered, Dee’s ties to Harbour Street tells Vera that there’s much more going on than meets the eye. Will feisty Vera get the townspeople to reveal what they know about the murdered women?

I enjoy the PBS Vera series so when I saw several of the author’s books on the library shelf I decided to go with a story I hadn’t already seen. First off, I found that the books are different from the television series in that Vera isn’t exactly the sweet and loveable character in the books as she is on television. I HATED the way the author made so much about Vera’s weight. There was absolutely no reason to hammer the fact home that Vera is overweight. I could have counted the number of times the author used the word ‘fat’ to describe Vera and a few of the other characters. I found this extremely off-putting.

The story definitely dragged on and on. I grew bored several times and almost gave up, but I wanted to find out who the murderer was and why he or she killed the women. I honestly can’t say that the story was compelling, nor were any of the characters particularly likeable. In short, by the end of the book I just didn’t care that much.

I guess this is a case where the television series is much better than the books. Actress Brenda Blethyn really brings so much to Vera’s character. And, I honestly don’t remember anyone mentioning Vera’s so-called weight issue in the TV show. From now on, I think I’ll just stick with watching Vera on PBS.

2 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton

Review of Dying in the Wool by Frances Brody

Kate Shackelton loves solving mysteries and since the war ended she’s managed to solve several missing soldier cases for friends and acquaintances. When former fellow VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) nurse Tabitha Braithwaite asks Kate to locate her missing father so that he can walk her down the aisle at her wedding Kate is uneasy. She’s never accepted payment before and doesn’t consider herself a “professional”. But Tabitha insists she pay Kate for her efforts and thus begins Kate’s long and tedious search for the missing Joshua Braithwaite.

I chose this book from my local library because of the lovely book cover. It caught my attention and when I read the blurb it sounded like something I’d thoroughly enjoy. However, I did have trouble staying with this book. Although I did read it in its entirety, it was as long and tedious as Kate’s search for Joshua.

Dying in the Wool goes off in so many unnecessary directions – I wondered several times if the author was simply trying to pad the book to make it longer than it might have been. I would have accepted a much shorter book in favor of slogging through so many side roads. There were far too many subplots thrown in for good measure – to the point where the book became bogged down and boring. I didn’t find the characters to be likeable – including main character Kate – enough to truly earn my attention and interest.

After reading summaries from other reviewers I’ve learned that the Kate Shackelton books get better after this initial installment in the series. I noticed several of Frances Brody’s books on the library shelf and I’d consider trying one more book. If it doesn’t grab me I’ll just have to give up.

3 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton

Review of Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof


Tom Putnam is a pleasant and quiet English professor in a small college town. Tom’s wife Marjory’s mental illness is a drain on everyone around her and causes a great deal of gossip in the community. Yet, through it all, Tom remains the devoted and (almost) faithful husband. Aside from one brief affair with a colleague several years prior, Tom stands by Marjory despite her trying behavior.

When tragedy strikes, Tom’s life changes almost overnight – particularly when free-spirited Rose Callahan arrives to manage the college bookstore, then even more so when Tom learns he has a six-year-old son, who’s on his way for a sudden visit. Can things get even more complicated for Tom and those around him? Yes, they can…

When I spotted this book on the bargain table at my local bookstore, I was first drawn to the book cover. Then I read the inside cover and was intrigued enough to make the purchase. Yet, as I began to read, I admit that I had some trouble getting into the story. I felt as though the author meandered a bit too much and I began growing bored quickly. In fact, I almost gave up a few times, but I stayed with it. Actually, I’m glad that I did.

There are several very touching moments in Small Blessings. Several subplots are at work here and they do come together in the end. The characters are charmingly flawed and that’s what makes this such a lovely read. On the surface, many of the characters seem to be almost gruff and unfeeling, but the author does a wonderful job of opening them up so readers can see the complex emotions underneath – and after all, isn’t that how people really are? Tom is probably the one constant in the book – good natured, kind and consistent almost to a fault, but not quite. I found his character to be the anchor that holds the story together.

The ending was somewhat predictable, but I didn’t care one bit. It was exactly the way I’d hoped it would work out. Small Blessings is well worth sticking with through to the end. It’s a charming story about life, loss and love!

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton

Review of One by One by Robert Germaux

The Check Mark killer is on the loose in Pittsburgh and Detective Daniel Hayes and his SAS team members are struggling to crack the case. The victims don’t appear to have anything in common other than the mysterious check mark messages left near the bodies, but the SAS team’s investigation is determined to find the killer before his next Friday killing day rolls around.

This is the second Daniel Hayes book I’ve read by Robert Germaux, having read Small Talk, which I loved. I was certainly not disappointed with One by One. This is another suspenseful, tasteful detective novel – no gratuitous sex or swearing here – just the way I like my detective novels.

I loved that the SAS team works so well together to solve the Check Mark killings. There’s none of that one-upmanship or friction among team members, which I find often bogs down other detective novels. The SAS members all have jobs to do and they do it well by working together.

As in Germaux’s other novels, his protagonist is quite the romantic. Daniel Hayes is an all around nice guy who treats everyone with respect and compassion – in other words, he’s an extremely likeable guy. I did find his love interest, Lauren, to be ever so slightly conceited, but it certainly didn’t ruin the story for me.

I’m happy that Robert Germaux is continuing to write his Daniel Hayes detective novels. I’m looking forward to the third book in the series. I highly recommend One by One!

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton

Review of Understanding Color in Photography by Bryan Peterson


Bryan Peterson is an internationally known professional photographer and instructor, who has written dozens of photography books. Understanding Color in Photography is his most recent book on the subject and includes four separate sections:

  • Light, Exposure and Color
  • Color and Composition
  • Color and Mood
  • Using Tools to Enhance Color

Each section is broken down into specific and detailed topics, which covers things such as exposure and color, monochromatic colors, using color as background, complementary colors, filters, PhotoShop and much more.

As I’ve found with all of Bryan Peterson’s books, the photos are gloriously stunning. Although this is a generous-sized paperback, the quality of the book and photos are wonderful.

The author discusses color in a conversational, easy manner that gives the reader a sense of Peterson’s instructional style. He shares a tremendous amount of professional know-how so that even novice photographers can begin using his color techniques.

Most of us probably won’t have the opportunity take one of Bryan Peterson’s workshops. This book, and all of his books, is the next best thing! Thanks to Blogging for Books, the author and the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book.

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton

Review of Never Ever by Gita V. Reddy

Never Ever opens with one simple line: “‘Maybe we should get a divorce,’” Raj said, as Divya looked away.” The sentence is so shocking and unexpected and even Raj himself is surprised by it. After a marriage filled with seething, yet restrained anger and resentment, Raj finally has the courage to say aloud what he’s been thinking for some time.

After reading and loving several of Gita Reddy’s children’s books, I decided to download and try one of her “adult” books. I was not disappointed. Ms. Getty proves that she can certainly stretch herself as an author. Expressing herself in this new genre proves to be successful for her, which is the sign of a wonderful writer!

Never Ever is a short story filled with heartfelt emotion and likable characters. It’s written sensitively and thoughtfully. I would definitely read more of Gita’s books for adults, since I enjoyed this one so much!

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton


Review of The Little Yarnmouth Abduction by Tim Van Minton

Evan Peregrine lives with his Uncle Cedric on tiny Little Yarnmouth island, population thirty-something, and takes his boat to school in Middle Langton each school day. Bully and over privileged Barry Potts is a constant thorn in Evan’s side and, when he and Evan are forced to spend an afternoon in detention together, Evan suddenly finds himself a murder suspect.

When I began reading this book I had no idea what was to come. The Little Yarnmouth begins like a somewhat typical story of an outcast, trying to get through life and unfolds into a truly imaginative tale that includes a host of interesting characters and tons of adventure.

The author’s writing is intelligent and engaging. I certainly don’t think this book is just for kids. Adults will enjoy it as well. Although the main character is only twelve, the book isn’t written in an immature voice. This is a wonderful, original dystopian adventure!

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton

Review of 21 Ways to Forgive by Wes Daughenbaugh

21 Ways to Forgive is a brief Christian booklet that aims to explain the reasons why we need to forgive others. Pastor and author Wes Daughenbaugh shares his twenty-one top reasons why our salvation as Christians depends upon our ability to forgive “with all our hearts”.

Wow…this book really packs an evangelical punch! Pastor Daughenbaugh explains the concept and importance of forgiveness, in simple yet highly effective terms. As I was reading, I realized how little I really knew about forgiving others. As someone who has gone through a great deal of traumatic experiences, I’ve found it extremely difficult to forgive those who have harmed and wronged me in the past. I now understand that the process of forgiveness is for my own benefit, and for the benefit of strengthening my relationship with God.

21 Ways to Forgive is an excellent book for anyone, of any age. This book is certainly suitable for children and I can see it being used effectively in Sunday school classes, Bible study programs and Vacation Bible School curriculum. It’s an excellent teaching tool for adults and for children. It’s the kind of book that readers can return to time and again when they find themselves struggling to forgive.

I highly recommend 21 Ways to Forgive! Thanks to Book Crash, the publisher and the author for providing a complimentary copy.

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton