The Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

the sea prayer

Printed Length:  48 pages
Published: September 18, 2018 by Riverhead Books

The Kite Runner is one of my favorite books, and I have enjoyed Khaled Hosseini’s other books as well, so I was eager to read his latest.  I was surprised to find it was more like an illustrated poem, but it’s one that is worth reading.

A father is writing to his son as they get ready to set off on a dangerous voyage to leave their war-torn country.  What lies ahead is dangerous but a better option than staying behind.  This short, 48-page book really touches the heart and made me feel the father’s emotions and connect with the life of a refugee, feeling compassion for them and their plight.  The illustrations are well-done and add an element that highlights the words.

As stated on the book’s inner flap, Khaled Hosseini will donate author proceeds from this book to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and to THE Khaled Hosseini Foundation to help fund life-saving relief efforts to help refugees around the globe.

To learn more about UNHCR, please visit:

To learn more about The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, please visit:




Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin

send down the rain

Print Length:  352 pages
Published:  May 8, 2018 by Thomas Nelson

Earlier in the year, I read my first Charles Martin book, Water From My Heart and thoroughly enjoyed it.  So when I saw that he had another book released this year, I had to read it.  I actually received an advanced readers copy but wasn’t able to get to it before it came out last May.  I’m really regretting that now.  After reading this book, Charles Martin is now definitely one of my favorite authors.

Joseph is a war decorated Vietnam vet who has returned home with emotional scars as well as the multiple scars on his body.  He lives alone in the remote mountains of North Carolina where he frequently calls into late-night radio host, Suzy, who listens to his war stories, trying to offer her support and healing.  She has her own struggles as she has been trying for years to locate her missing father.

One day Joseph Brooks finds an illegal Mexican mother and her two children who became lost in the mountains after running away from her vicious drug lord husband.  Joseph jumps in to help, offering to carry them to family members in Florida.  Along the way, he stops by his old hometown in Florida after learning of a horrific eighteen wheeler truck crash and seeing the smoke in the air miles away.  Here he finds the driver of the truck was the husband of the love of his life he left behind when he went to war, and now she has lost her husband as well as the restaurant she built.  Their reconnection brings out secrets from the past, and the stories of the characters including Joseph’s now Senator brother, interspersed throughout the book.

I can’t begin to express how eloquently and beautifully Charles Martin writes.  He is exquisitely skilled in storyline and character development.  He is considered a Christian writer, but his books do not preach, and someone who didn’t know that ahead of time wouldn’t realize it.  His books don’t talk about religion, but they do have religious themes of redemption, grace, sacrifice, hope, etc. in them.  Those are themes that resonate with me, and with his beautiful writing hug my heart.  I would highly recommend this author and this book.

My Rating:  5 Stars
On an additional fun note, I just saw another book cover that happens to look like the cover of Send Down the Rain:
a curve in the road


Death in Brittany by Jean-Luc Bannalec

death in brittany

Hardcover: 320 pages
Published: June 30, 2015 by Minotaur Books (first published 2012)


This book is our Mystery Group’s selection for this month, and it is a charming police procedural set in Brittany.  I have never read any of his books, but my husband who travels annually to Germany said that the books in this series are very popular there, and apparently there is a tv series based on this series.

The book starts off with the brutal stabbing of a ninety-one-year-old hotelier, Pierre-Louis Pennec who was found dead in his hotel.  (The murder, however, is not graphically described) Parisian Commissaire Dupin has now been working in Brittany for about three years.  Although he has started learning the culture and making acquaintances, he realizes he will always be considered an outsider.  At first, there doesn’t appear to be any apparent leads, but through his hunches and plodding forward, he uncovers several potential suspects.  Things become more complicated when someone else dies.  Was it a murder or an accident?

Art is significant in this area.  This was a well-loved location for Gauguin to paint, which also plays a part in the mystery.

The book is not fast-paced but reads at a moderate pace as Dupin methodically follows up on his leads and hunches, allowing you to savor the development of the mystery.  The strength of the book is the well-developed setting and sense of place.  You’ll feel that you are in the small village enjoying the food and ambiance, inspiring you to book a flight to go visit.

My rating:  3.5 Stars

Wednesday Wow – Book Covers that Look Alike

I have always been attracted to books by their book covers, so now that I am looking at book covers all day at my job, I started a little project where I keep copies of book covers I think look alike.  Early on in this blog post, I did a post of a couple of book covers that look alike but never continued.  Recently, one of the other librarians asked me if she could use my file to start putting posts on our library’s web site.  That made me thinkthat I should start a regular series of posts along that line; thus, I will now be posting Wednesday Wow – Book Covers that Look Alike.  The books in my first new posting are below.  I’d love to hear what you think and please share any that you have noticed!


Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer

hope never dies

Print Length: 304 pages
Published: July 10, 2018 by Quirk Books
Several of my colleagues at work had read this and said that they thought it was a fun read.  So I decided to give it a try.  I would agree with them that it was an entertaining read.

The book begins months after President Obama’s term has ended, and Joe Biden is at loose ends and rather forlorn that he hasn’t heard from his buddy Obama, yet continues to see pictures of him out and about with various celebrities.  All that changes one day when Obama stealthily appears at his house one evening and informs him that his favorite Amtrak conductor and friend was found dead on the railroad tracks and a map of Biden’s home was found on his body.  Biden decides to do a little amateur sleuthing to find out why and before you know it, he and Obama are involved in a mad caper investigation into his friend’s murder.

This book is a total humorous romp.  It’s not meant to be a serious or deep mystery.  It’s a little over the top, but there is a solid mystery underneath all the fun.  If you are looking for a fun, light read, I’d recommend this book.

My Rating:  4 Stars

Cordial Killing by Vikki Walton Blog Tour

Cordial Killing Book

I’m excited to announce a new experience for me – I am one of the stops along a blog tour for a new mystery book called Cordial Killing by Vikki Walton that just came out November 5, 2018.  Continue reading for a summary of the book, an interview with the author, author biography, and a recipe for Elderberry Cordials.  If you love cozy mysteries, I’m sure you’ll want to get a copy of this book.

Cordial Killing (A Backyard Farming Mystery)

Anne is excited for the opening of the Brandywine Inn. Kandi and Hope are her partners in the bed-and-breakfast in Carolan Springs, Colorado, where they also provide homesteading and herbal workshops for guests.

As soon as the guests arrive, it’s plain that the five old college chums have bad blood between them. When Anne finds a threatening note, it’s clear that someone is out for revenge. Then they find a guest dead. At first, the death appears to be natural, but suspicions begin to grow.

When a blizzard threatens the Inn, will it trap them all with a killer and no way out?

Cordial Killing is a classic who-dun-it with a twist. Set in the fictional small town of Carolan Springs, you will enjoy an armchair getaway into beautiful Colorado.

Buy link 


An Interview with the author, Vikki Walton

Q:  What would you like readers to know about your books?

A:  They’re cozy mysteries with a modern twist. There’s a mystery to solve but there’s              also time spent on getting to know the characters.

Q:  How did you get interested in writing mysteries and the cozy genre in particular?

A:  I guess if you could blame someone it would be Mildred Wirt Benson aka Carolyn              Keene who wrote over twenty of the Nancy Drew Books. Those adventures with                  Nancy were my first taste of the cozy mystery genre. Later, Agatha Christie books              became my favorite who-dun-it’s. So it wasn’t hard to see that mysteries would                    become my favorite genre.

Q:  Where did you get the inspiration for this book?

A:  I’ve always been interested in herbs and grow many of my own. I also make my own        tinctures, tonics and salves. I came up with an idea for the delivery method for a                murder and my imagination took off. I thought back to my own garden and some of          the flowers that had grown there. That’s when I knew what I would use for the                    means for the murder.

Q:  When you write your mysteries, do you have the whole mystery plotted out before            you write, or does it come to you as you write?

A:  Yes. Let me explain. An idea comes to me. Over days and weeks, scenes will come to          my mind. Then I’ll jot down a very simple outline. I have the beginning, I know the            means and the motive, I know what the clues and red herrings and I will be know              the  ending. But once I start writing, new characters will often pop up, new ideas                come to mind that I include, and changes may occur on when and where something          happens.

Q:  This is the second book in the series.  Do you feel people should begin with the first in        the series or will it be ok to start with this book?

A:  If they want to know more about the characters, then starting on book one is a good          idea as the characters develop in each subsequent story. But if they just want to read          a mystery, they can easily read the second book as a standalone story. Each story has        it’s own beginning and ending on that particular mystery.

Q:  What three words would you use to describe your book?

A:  A bit funny, A bit spooky, A bit classic trapped group of individuals.  More than three          words but that’s what you’ll get when you ask a writer!

About the author
Vikki Walton Picture

Vikki’s first words were “I get it!” This attitude became her life-long mantra to always go after what she wants. It also helped her realize her desire to help others get what they really want out of life.

After spending years as a registered interior designer, Vikki began to write. While writing for periodicals, Vikki found herself on assignment interviewing publishers in Colorado Springs. It wasn’t long before the natural beauty of Colorado captured her heart.

After moving to Colorado, Vikki  worked with nonprofits. However, she soon realized she needed more autonomy in her work.

Vikki started her own business as a nonprofit consultant and grant writer. She has helped nonprofits across the U.S. to receive millions of dollars for  their work. Yet, she realized doing one thing wouldn’t satisfy her for long.

Vikki became a Work Quilter™ combining her many passions to create multiple income streams. She started speaking and teaching adults on myriad and diverse topics around her knowledge, skills and passions.   She’s taught and spoken on Creative Writing, Design for Heart and Home, Fundraising Fundamentals , Suburban Homesteading, Permaculture, How to Get What You Really Want, and of course, Work Quilting. Two words that continually appear on instructor and speaker feedback forms are “engaging” and “knowledgeable.”

Born in Chicago, Vikki lived outside of Paris for a few years as a small child. That may account for her love of travel. She moved to Wichita with her parents before going on to live most of her life around the San Antonio, Texas area. She is the founder of #girlswantago and you can connect through Facebook or 

Vikki is also an experienced, professional  global house and pet sitter.  

Vikki’s favorite genre is mystery so it wasn’t long before she had begun her first cozy mystery series.  Incorporating her love of suburban homesteading, or as some call it, backyard farming, Vikki’s first book is Chicken Culprit.

You’ll most often find Vikki out hiking with her dog, outside gardening, traveling abroad, house or pet sitting, or writing her next book.


Marie’s Elderberry Cordial Recipe

Items Needed

  • Quart canning jar with lid
  • Funnel (large mouth)
  • Wooden spoon
  • Label or masking tape
  • Sharpie
  • Cheesecloth (optional)
  • Strainer (optional)
  • Decorative Bottle (optional)
Ingredients Amounts needed Comments
Elderberries 1.25 cup dried or 2 cups fresh For fresh, remove from stems.
Brandy 3 cups Can also use other alcohol but brandy is most commonly used.
Honey ¼ to ½ cup (or to taste) Vegans or those who don’t have access to good local raw honey can substitute maple syrup. Acquiring local honey will provide your cordial with its own unique flavor.
Cinnamon stick One Flavor along with Antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatory properties
Rosehips ¼ cup Extra Vitamin C
Ginger 1-2 tbsp grated fresh ginger Flavor along with Antioxidants


  • Place elderberries (and any optional ingredients, if using) into quart jar.
  • Cover with brandy.
  • Add honey.
  • Stir with wooden spoon or put lid on and shake.
  • Place in dark, cool space (usually a cabinet will do) for three to four weeks.
  • If desired, strain with cheesecloth and using a strainer, put into a decorative bottle.
  • Or you can leave ingredients in jar.
  • In winter take 1-2 tbsp daily for immune-boosting. If ill, take 3-4 tbsp (basically a shot glass) a few times a day until symptoms improve. This cordial can also be used as a base for poor-tasting tinctures such as osha.
  • Can last for a year with fresh berries and longer if made with dried berries—if you have it that long!


Elderberry is a wonderful plant to have in your yard or on your property. It has many medicinal benefits and uses. The elderberry plant most commonly associated with immune-boosting and flu-fighting properties is the dark berry plant (Elderberry Sambucus Nigra). Elder flower is also used in elixirs, teas and food.  Elder was the International Herb Association’s Herb of the Year in 2013. It’s usually harvested in September.

This Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


Cordial Killing (A Backyard Farming Mystery Series—Book Two)