Book Review #39: “The Lady’s Slipper: A Melody Mystery”

The Lady's Slipper

Image Credit: Amazon

If you haven’t already, I recommend reading the other reviews of Melody’s books before checking out this one:


This is Melody’s first mystery story, and I was just blown away. I read this entire book in one sitting this past Saturday night – Something that hasn’t happened in a very, very long time.

The book is set in May 1965, and Melody is going through something that we all have struggled with – Maintaining old relationships/friendships while trying to be nice and make new friends. We see her trying to keep up her relationship with her 12-year-old cousin, Val, but also admiring 14-year-old Leah, wanting to be friends with her, too. Val gets really jealous because she starts to become the third wheel, and Melody is caught in the middle. But, there’s a mystery to solve!

Melody starts to suspect that Leah is keeping several secrets, particularly about her grandfather, Dr. Roth. Slowly, Melody learns Dr. Roth escaped Poland and the Nazis during World War II. As a botanist, he wanted to save as many plants as he could. Along the way, Melody gets an education about the Jewish faith, Hebrew, and the horrors of war. She makes a connection with Leah around family, and Melody learns that she can balance time with family as well as friends.

All of these secrets are coming to light while Melody’s Poppa is busy preparing for the Belle Isle Flower Show at the breathtaking conservancy. Several mysterious and suspicious events occur while the exhibition is being set up, and Poppa is targeted because he’s the only black man in the show. Are there other suspects? Will Poppa be arrested?

This book was a bit complex, but I was very impressed in how it all pulled together. I was floored by the amount of historical detail the author packed into this book! She expertly weaved together the worlds of Europe and the United States, as well as the worlds of African-Americans and Jewish people during those time periods. And to make it all make sense, that’s impressive to me.

I hope more Melody mysteries are published – I want more!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #38: “The Runaway: A Maryellen Mystery”

If you haven’t already, I recommend checking out my other reviews on Maryellen’s books before reading this review:


This new mystery featuring Maryellen, her family, and friends, takes us from Daytona Beach, all the way to Cape Canaveral!

Scooter is the Larkin family’s beloved daschund. Maryellen grows angry with him one day after tripping over him, and sends him out of the house. Hours later, Scooter simply disappears! Maryellen is heartbroken, convinced it was her fault that Scooter ran away.

Things start to become fishy when Maryellen and her friends notice other dogs in the neighborhood have vanished. Soon, multiple suspects are coming out of the woodwork. Can Maryellen and her friends solve the case? Will Scooter return?

I finished this book, all 232 pages, in just two nights. I think it took me about 90 minutes total to read it. I love these new mysteries with the BeForever characters. I want to read them all!

A fair warning – This book may be upsetting to some who are passionate about dogs and animals, but it’s an important book to read. I’m glad that American Girl is touching on tough topics (I won’t give anything significant away here), and the historical accuracy and explanations are superb. They cover a lot of ground in this one book, showcasing how dogs and other animals have been, and still are, used for science and scientific purposes. They also tie in the space race with the Soviet Union!

I’m planning to read Melody’s (1964) latest mystery next!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #22: “How I Choose My Books” Tag

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Image Credit: Kristen Kraves Books

The lovely ladies at Thrice Read did this awesome tag!

Here’s the link to their original post:


Find a book on your shelves with a blue cover. What made you pick up that book in the first place?

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I had heard a lot about it, but I bought it after the movie came out. I found it in a local used book shop called Book Owl. I’m glad that I bought it and read it – John Green is one of my favorite authors.

Think of a book you didn’t expect to enjoy but did. Why did you read it in the first place?

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. As I wrote in my review, I was intrigued by it when one of my PEO sisters presented her review of it at one of our meetings in 2014. However, when I finally found my own copy, I felt hesitant and unsure. I found quickly that I didn’t need to worry – It was a really good book!

Stand in front of your bookshelf with your eyes closed and pick a book at random. How did you discover this book?

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I’d first heard good things online, but what sold it for me was when Whitehead was interviewed by Terry Gross for NPR’s Fresh Air in August 2016. Not too long after the interview aired, I received a Barnes & Noble gift card for my birthday, and promptly bought it. It’s one of the best adult fiction books that I’ve ever read.

Pick a book that someone personally recommended to you. What did you think of it?

If I Am Missing Or Dead: A Sister’s Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation by Janine Latus. My good friend Mike Holtzclaw recommended this book after I told him about my past abusive relationship when I was in college. Mike is good friends with Janine, and learned her story along with her sister’s tragic murder. It was a tough book to read, but I’m so glad that I did. It’s one of those books that’s stuck with me ever since I’ve read it, and that was well over a year ago.

Pick a book you discovered through book blogs. Did it live up to the hype?

To be honest, I don’t think I’ve read or reviewed any books that I’ve discovered through book blogs – Not yet, anyway. I’m working through several books on my TBR first! However, there are several book blogs and book bloggers that I absolutely adore, and I’m finding that my TBR is constantly growing and expanding.

Find a book on your shelves with a one word title. What drew you to this book?

Divergent by Veronica Roth. I remember falling in love with the plot, and being inspired because the woman is my age. As my review shows, there are issues with the overall trilogy, but when I first heard about Roth and her books, my imagination ran wild and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them!

What book did you discover through a film/TV adaptation?

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win The Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly. I LOVED the movie adaptation – If you haven’t seen it, do it! It’s an awesome movie and a great story. With that said, I need to add the book to my TBR. Plus, Shetterly is from Hampton, Virginia, just a stone’s throw away from where I live and work.

Think of your all-time favorite books. When did you read these and why did you pick them up in the first place?

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’ve loved this book since it was assigned reading by Mr. Degnan in IB English. It’s one book that I re-read at least once every single year. I was so inspired by Gatsby that I ended up doing a major research project for Degnan on Fitzgerald’s life and his other books. It was an amazing time period that he lived in and wrote about!


How do you typically choose the books you read?

Leave me some recommendations of your favorite books. I’m always looking for more!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #37: “The Unknown and Impossible: How a research facility in Virginia mastered the air and conquered space”

The Unknown and Impossible

Image Credit: Amazon

“I am proud to be part of a species where a subset of its members willingly put their lives at risk to push the boundaries of our existence.”

~ Neil deGrasse Tyson


Mike Holtzclaw is a good friend of mine from church and our blood drives. This year, he’s also a co-author of this amazing book. He, along with Tamara Dietrich, and Mark St. John Erickson, are all employees with the Daily Press. All part of the News division, Dietrich is the Senior Reporter – Science and Environment, Holtzclaw is a Senior Reporter, and Erickson is the Senior Reporter – History.

Mike took to Facebook a while back to make the announcement that the book was being published. I immediately went to Amazon and pre-ordered it. I was impressed – It arrived earlier than expected!

Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop! Having worked for the student newspaper of Longwood University, The Rotunda, I immediately recognized the vast amount of research, interviews, and collaboration that went into writing this book!

It’s such a quick read, but it’s jam-packed with over 100 years of history, and a look into our future. I thought I knew a lot about the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Langley, but boy, was I wrong!

It’s fitting they published the book during the 100th anniversary of Langley Research Center, as well as the 25th anniversary of the Virginia Air & Space Center (The NASA Langley Visitor Center), both located in Hampton, Virginia. I remember taking many trips to the Air & Space Center as a kid, having grown up across the water in Chesapeake. I was always in awe of the exhibits and the history there. However, this book has helped me truly understand how significant Langley has been to the development of the space program, training the astronauts, and making both aviation and space travel better.

If you haven’t seen Hidden Figures, just do it. It’s not only an impressive movie, but it also shines a nice spotlight on both Hampton and Langley. I want to read Margot Lee Shetterly’s book as well. Katherine Johnson is one of the many profiles in the book, and she’s 98 years old!

I greatly appreciated the dedication to historical accuracy – The authors clearly demonstrated that. They used a vast array of sources, resources, and interviews. Thanks to their work, I now have a much better appreciation of Hampton as a city, and this great research facility that started out so small, and unappreciated. I always smile when I see the NASA logo directing people to Langley on Interstate 64 West on my way to work every weekday!

In addition to historical accuracy, I loved seeing all the photos! I loved how they were set within the text, and each one of them added something to the words on the page. Plus, the profiles of the pioneering people at the end of every chapter was really awesome to see and read, recognizing their talents and contributions from 1917 forward.

If you want to learn about how NASA came out of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), how a tiny corner of southeastern Virginia was one of the first places to pursue and develop groundbreaking research in aviation, how aviation development gave way to the space program, and what the future may behold – Absolutely, definitely read this book.

It’s a refreshing, fascinating read about 100 years that truly shaped our skies, our planet, and our future. Here’s to leaving more footprints on the moon, Mars, and more.

5 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #5: Margaret Mitchell

Margaret-Mitchell-Quotes-3

Image Credit: Relatably.com

Another Awesome Author that I was recently thinking about was Margaret Mitchell.

Confession time: I have never read Gone With The Wind all the way through. I attempted several times in middle school (mainly for the massive amount of AR points!), but never accomplished it. However, it’s on my TBR, and I’m absolutely determined to read it before 2017 ends.

Having never fully read the book also means that I’ve never seen the movie. That’s another goal of mine, but that will only happen after I finish the book.


Learning about Mitchell’s life was simply fascinating, having not known much past writing Gone With The Wind.

Born in 1900, she started writing and illustrating stories from a very early age. Her mother kept many of them, and several boxes of stories were still in the house when Mitchell left for college. She was a very imaginative child, making up fairy tales, cowboys and Indians stories, and more.

Starting in 1922, she wrote feature articles for The Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine. Although her journalism career was short-lived due to a persistent ankle injury, she wrote 129 feature articles, 85 news stories, and several book reviews in the span of four years.

Her husband, John Marsh, was part of the inspiration for Mitchell (known as Peggy by then) to write Gone With The Wind. Having left journalism due to her ankle injury, John grew tired of constantly lugging books back and forth from their house to the library, and finally said to her,

“For God’s sake, Peggy, can’t you write a book instead of reading thousands of them?”


Sadly, Mitchell’s life was dramatically cut short. She died at age 48 when she was hit by a speeding car while crossing the street with her husband in Atlanta. She never fully regained consciousness. The driver was eventually convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and served 11 months in jail.


While she is best known for Gone With The Wind, I wanted to highlight a few more of Mitchell’s works. Incredibly, she destroyed some of her manuscripts herself, and others were destroyed after she died!

Lost Laysen (completed 1916, published 1996)

Lost Laysen

Image Credit: Amazon

Reading about this novella was amazing! I definitely want to read it, if I can find it. I’m so glad it was published, even though it took 80 years.

The Big Four (never published)

As a teenager, Mitchell wrote The Big Four, a 400-page novel about girls in a boarding school. At this point, it is thought to be lost. This makes me sad – It sounds like an intriguing story.

Before Scarlett: Girlhood Writings of Margaret Mitchell (2010)

Before Scarlett

Image Credit: Amazon

This book is a collection of 28 of Mitchell’s early writings. The description on Amazon sounds so intriguing. It makes me think of me, in a way, when I wrote stories as a child. I’m considering adding this one to my TBR – I hope my library has it!


I leave you with this inspirational quote from the author herself:

“I had every detail clear in my mind before I sat down to the typewriter.”


What about you? Have you read Gone With The Wind? Have you read anything else by Margaret Mitchell?

Come back next month for another exciting installment of Awesome Authors!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Blog Awards #15: The Sunshine Blogger Award – Number Three!

sunshine1

Image Credit: Found on Bookmark Your Thoughts

I’m honored and humbled to have been nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award for the third time. I was nominated by Jenna at Bookmark Your Thoughts. Thanks, Jenna!

Here’s the link to the post where I was nominated:


What is the Sunshine Blogger Award?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive, and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.


The Rules

  1. Thank the person/persons that nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator has given you.
  3. Nominate 11 other people, and give them 11 new questions to answer.
  4. List the rules and display the award.

Questions from Jenna

One. What’s your favourite book from your childhood?

  • I read and re-read the American Girl “Central Series,” or the six books that were about the original Historical Characters, throughout my childhood. I had many of the books in my own library, and I checked out the others from the library. Kirsten, Samantha, and Molly were the original three girls when the company first started in 1986. Felicity was added in 1991, Addy debuted in 1993, and Josefina was introduced in 1997. Note – I shamelessly read them as an adult, too. I’m currently rebuilding my childhood collection!

Two. From the best of your knowledge, what is your favourite childhood memory?

  • I have so many! I think my favorite is playing with the kids in the cul-de-sacs of Leeward Drive and Leeward Court (where my parents still live), and hopping the fence in my backyard to access the city park. We had many neighborhood “Breakfast in the Park” get-togethers for years,

Three. What was your favourite subject in school? Why?

  • I’ve always loved English class more than anything else. I love to read, and I became a fairly good writer in elementary school. I think my love of reading and writing led to my decision to study journalism / Mass Media in college.

Four. If reincarnation is real, what would you like to come back as?

  • I’d love to be a guinea pig or a hedgehog. I had several guinea pigs growing up, and we took care of several for friends after ours passed away. My 6th grade Civics teacher had a classroom hedgehog named Curious, and I’ve wanted one of my own ever since.

Five. Name one reason why you would want to teleport to the future? What do you think it will behold?

  • I would love see if self-driving cars actually come to fruition, among other things. I would love to see revolutions in healthcare, cures for diseases (Cancer, Alzheimer’s, ALS, etc.), and agreement on tax reform!

Six. Who is your favourite hero/heroine in YA literature?

  • I loved Tally Youngblood in Uglies. Thinking about it, I need to read the rest of the series (Three more books). But, when I read it for my YA Literature class in the spring of 2011, I thought the book was revolutionary.

Seven. You’ve won a million dollars; what’s the very first thing you do with the money?

  • I pay off our mortgage.

Eight. It’s movie watching time; what’s your favourite movie genre that you’re most likely going to watch? Do you have a favourite movie?

  • Forrest Gump has always been my favorite movie! If I’m not watching that movie, anything with Tom Hanks is a good choice.

Nine. You can instantly travel to anywhere in the world; where are you travelling to? Why?

  • I’m headed to Hawaii. I’ve always wanted to visit! There are so many things to do there. My parents have been several times – They climbed Diamond Head in 2009!

Ten. You find a genie (with no restrictions) and are the lucky one to have three of your wishes granted; what are they?

  1. Have all of my novel attempts officially published and available to everyone.
  2. Have a library like Belle’s in Beauty and the Beast be built in my house / on my property.
  3. Pay off our mortgage, plus have about $20,000 available for several home improvements (New HVAC system, new windows, etc.)

Eleven. What book series or standalone novel would you recommend/do recommend to anyone? Why?

  • If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It’s one book that I re-read every single year, and it’s made a big impact on my life since reading it in high school.

Questions for the Nominees

  1. Do you have a favorite sports team?
  2. What movie are you most excited about for 2018?
  3. If money was no object, what would be your dream job?
  4. If you could do your school experience over again, would you have changed your field of study? If so, what would you pick?
  5. What is your favorite breed of dog?
  6. Do you have a dream pet(s)?
  7. If you could embark on a week-long trip in the United States, where would you go?
  8. What’s your favorite breakfast food(s)?
  9. If you could meet any author, who would you choose, and why?
  10. Is there a particular time period that you would want to live in?
  11. Do you have a favorite vacation or trip from your childhood?

And The Nominees Are …

  1. Dutch Lion
  2. daily(w)rite
  3. “An Tony’M”
  4. theexceptionalwriter
  5. Noveau Bohemian
  6. The Diary of a Muslim Girl
  7. Thriller/Suspense Film and Writing Festival
  8. Around the Library in 80 Days
  9. Bookends and Endings
  10. WilliWash
  11. BRAINISNTAFTERTHOUGHT

Please note: Your participation is completely voluntary!!


Thanks for reading! I’m so honored to receive this award.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #67: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 29)

Week #29: Your Favorite Memory.

For me, Oreos simply taste better if they’re frozen. Every time I eat a frozen Oreo, I think of the countless visits to Florida with my grandparents. My mom’s parents lived in Coral Gables, very close to Miami. My dad’s dad is still alive, and at age 91, he lives independently in a wonderful condominium community in Seminole, about 15 miles away from the Gulf of Mexico.

Florida is the state that I’ve been to the most times, easily over 100 times now. I have so many memories – We visited both sets of grandparents, along with other friends and family members, up to four times a year for many years. It was routine to get on a plane to visit for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, and sometimes, both.

Thinking of the current package of frozen Oreos in my freezer, easily reminds me of the Oreos and vanilla bean ice cream almost every night in Florida, coupled with Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! Spending time with them meant lots of adventures, and mostly unhealthy food. I learned how to play and master Scrabble and Upwords, improve my tennis skills, swim better, visiting many libraries, eating lots of good food, and enjoying each other’s company.

Both sets of grandparents were married for over 50 years! My mom’s parents celebrated an astounding 64 years together before Grandpa passed away in 2008. I feel incredibly fortunate and grateful to have had all four grandparents in my life until I was 20 years old, which is increasingly rare.

My dad’s parents were married for just over 50 years before Grandma Betty passed away in 2011.

Grandma Grace died in 2013 at the age of 96. This year, just a few weeks ago, would have been her 100th birthday.

Writing this post has inspired me to call Grandpa this weekend, as well as my Uncle Richard (Mom’s brother). It’s been too long since I’ve talked to them.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂