Monthly Archives: August, 2013

Camping’s Top Secrets

Camping’s Top Secrets by Cliff Jacobson

Rating:  * * * *

A compilation of useful tips for everything from treating hypothermia and blisters to packing sourdough starter for a trip to sewing cozies for cooking pots.  I have the 2nd edition, copyright 1998, but there is at least one subsequent version.  These are great tips, detailed but not exhaustive.  Other books by Jacobson provide greater detail on almost everything in this book.  I look  through this book about once a year and focus on something I’ve only skimmed before.


I love the word feckless.  The English language does not contain the word feck.  Thus one can be feck-less but cannot be feck-ful.  I’m sure it says something about me that I find this fascinating.

Welcome to Last Chance

Welcome to Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong

Rating:  * * *

Lainie Davis, on the run from her old life, ends up in Last Chance, NM.  What she hopes will be a few hours’ stay while her car is repaired turns into months as she finds a job, makes new friends, and begins to trust others besides herself.  She meets and befriends Ray, who is also in Last Chance by circumstance rather than by choice.  Lainie finds herself wishing she could remain in Last Chance forever, although she fears her past will catch up with her and she will be forced to leave.

Welcome to Last Chance is a novel about chances:  2nd, 3rd, last chances.  Every character in the story is offered chances:  to make a better 2nd impression on someone; to see the impact of their words and deeds on others; to change lives in ways tiny to huge.  What each person chooses to do with those chances makes the story.

Lainie is independent and stubborn.  I cheered at her take-no-guff response to being harassed by a customer, and I laughed out loud at the outfit she chose for her first Sunday outing in town, an outing she was ordered to attend, much to her disgust.  Her choices are not always the wisest, but she does take responsibility for her own actions.

This is Cathleen Armstrong’s debut novel.  While at times it is awkward due to too much dialogue and a hazy timeline,  I enjoyed the book.  If you like this novel, you may also like Lisa Wingate’s Daily, TX series.

I received an advance reader copy from NetGalley.


I have met my Doppelganger, personality-wise.  Not sure which was weirder:  the meeting, or the recognition.


Snickerdoodle is a great word, isn’t it?  Wikipedia says the name may be a corruption of a German word for a type of noodle, or it might just be a nonsense word.  I vote for nonsense word.

The Desert Here and The Desert Far Away

The Desert Here and The Desert Far Away by Marcus Sakey

(alternately titled The Desert here and the Desert There)

A short story in the collection Thriller 2:  Stories You Just Can’t Put Down, edited by Clive Cussler

Rating:  * * * * *

When his military buddy Cooper calls on him for help, Nick doesn’t hesitate.  Now stateside, the bond that was forged in Iraq still holds strong.  Nick learns that Cooper’s troubles are far larger than he implied, and more dangerous, causing Nick to have flashbacks to their time in Iraq.  The story explores war through its toll on soldiers and through the bonds they form.  Perhaps because the story is short, its punch is concentrated. If you like this story, you might also like the 2007 movie In the Valley of Elah.

Fatal Judgment (Guardians of Justice #1)

Fatal Judgment (Guardians of Justice Book #1) by Irene Hannon

Rating:  * * * *

US Marshal Jake Taylor reluctantly accepts an assignment to protect federal judge Liz Michaels, the widow of his best friend and the woman he believes caused his friend’s suicide.  Thrown together due to the protection detail, Jake and Liz come to understand one another better.  Meanwhile, the danger escalates and it becomes a life or death race to track down the bad guy before he reaches Liz.

One of the things I love about this book is that the Marshals always follow the rules.  No rogue agents in this book:  they follow procedure, they call for backup when appropriate, and they don’t take matters into their own hands.

Liz is strong and independent without being loud about it, and Jake is introspective, intelligent, and thoughtful.  A winning combination of characters and characteristics.

Fatal Judgment is filled with tension, excitement, suspense, and drama, start to finish.   I look forward to the next installment in the series.

Lip Smackin’ Vegetarian Backpackin’

Lip Smackin’ Vegetarian Backpackin’ by Christine & Tim Conners

Rating:  * * * *

The original Lipsmackin’ Backpackin’ is my first and most-used camping cookbook (5 of 5 star rating), but this is a close second. The at-home and at-camp instructions are clear and concise. Recipes range from extremely simple to quite advanced, and also range from no cooking time at all to requiring several hours to prepare. Useful tips and tricks are included.  Serving size and nutritional info are included.

I use these recipes for both canoe camping and car camping, as well as lunches for work.

If you like this book, you might also like A Fork in the Trail by Laurie Ann March.

Shock Wave (Virgil Flowers series #5)

Shock Wave (Virgil Flowers series #5) by John Sandford

Rating:  * *

A mega-chain store is planning to build a supermart in a small town, threatening the livelihoods of existing businesses and sparking heated environmental protests.  All to no avail:  building plans advance despite the controversy.  Until bombs start exploding.  The first claims a life at the corporate headquarters of the mega-corp.  The second kills a construction supervisor on the job site.  More follow.  The story starts with a bang (no pun intended) and progresses quickly through a series of events.  Wisecracking Investigator Flowers has his hands full trying to narrow the list.

Flowers has an inflated sense of studliness which gets in the way of this story.  Despite his trademark wry humor and cheeky dialogue, his self-importance takes over this novel.

Almost all the characters in this book utter quirky and off-beat phrases. While it’s not unusual for one person in a crowd to do that, it is unusual for all of them to speak that way. This, too, gets in the way of the story.

Flowers is an engaging and often enjoyable character.  While this novel is not my favorite, it has sufficient action and excitement and witticisms that fans of the series will almost certainly enjoy it.

Most Likely to Die

Most Likely to Die by Lisa Jackson, Wendy Corsi Staub, and Beverly Barton

Rating:  *

A thriller in three parts.  An upcoming class reunion prompts the re-emergence of the murderer of a popular boy in high school 20 years prior.  Rachel, Kirsten, and Lindsay race to find the killer without enlisting the aid of law enforcement or common sense.

Credibility is strained from the start, but I could overlook that if the story were engaging enough.  This one is not.

I find it difficult to sympathize with Kirsten and her husband.  However likeable Lindsay and Rachel, they are not enough to salvage the story.  By the third section the story line has been stretched so far it kind of snaps.  The identify of the killer becomes glaringly obvious rather early on in the book.

While these three authors have enjoyed success in their solo writings, this collaboration falls flat.

%d bloggers like this: