Bite-size Book Reviews

With the exception of Susan Baganz’s “Pesto and Potholes” – so suitable for the start of the Green Bay Packers season! – it’s all audiobook reviews this week. I get a lot of housework and sewing and quilting done while I listen to audiobooks!


Pesto and Potholes by Susan M. Baganz

Pesto and Potholes, paperback by Susan M. Baganz

This is a delightful, gentle romance sprinkled with silliness.  The heroine is recovering from serious physical and emotional trauma, trying to restart life in a new city. She connects with the hero and friends at her new church and starts to heal, but she experiences setbacks and has to recover, a little stronger each time.  I was especially impressed by the realistic community. The friends and families of the main characters interact naturally under various circumstances, including the potentially-problematic operation of a family business. Ms. Baganz writes in a pleasant rhythm, pacing the story well.


Poseidon's Arrow by Clive and Dirk Cussler - audiobook reviews by Cathe Swanson


Poseidon’s Arrow, audiobook by Clive and Dirk Cussler, read by Scott Brick

I’m starting to worry about Dirk Pitt. He’s not getting any younger, but he’s still out there saving the world. This is an interesting and creative story featuring the rare earth minerals, Chinese villains, and an amazing piece of technology that only needs one more thing to make it work. Will Dirk and his children find it before the bad guys?





Organized Grime by Christy Barritt - audiobook reviews by Cathe Swanson

Organized Grime, audiobook by Christy Barritt, read by Angela Goethals

This is the third in the Squeaky Clean Mysteries. The heroine is a crime scene cleaner with aspirations to a career in criminal forensics. She is a new Christian, and Ms. Barritt does a good job of portraying the changes in her emotional life and relationships. The hero is a sensible man with a generous heart. His unexpected involvement in the plot was a neat touch. This humorous story has many layers and a complex plot that kept me guessing until the very satisfying end.




Seagrass Pier by Colleen Coble - audiobook reviews by Cathe Swanson

Seagrass Pier, audiobook by Colleen Coble, read by Devon O’Day

This book has an unusual heroine – a recent heart transplant patient who is having flashbacks, “remembering” the experiences and emotions of the murdered donor. I was wondering how those spiritual issues would fit into a Christian novel, but Ms. Coble handled it well. The woman’s family and support network are all interesting characters who contribute to the story as a whole; her mother’s early-onset dementia is a poignant undercurrent through the plot. I was concerned for the four-year-old child… her father dies, her mother has a heart transplant and her grandmother has severe dementia. Then the hero (a stranger) recognizes the child and demands to be given time alone with her. Poor kid. Otherwise, it was a very satisfactory and complex story. One of the author’s best!


Last Ditch by Ngaio Marsh - audiobook reviews by Cathe SwansonLast Ditch, audiobook by Ngaio Marsh, read by Nadia May

Another classic detective novel from one of the Golden Age masters. This book is set later than the others; the protagonist is Alleyn’s son, Ricky. He becomes involved with a colorful family and the ensuing police investigation when one of them is killed. Dad shows up to solve the case and save Ricky from certain death.  As always, Ms. Marsh’s settings and characters are portrayed vividly.



Look for more audiobook reviews as summer approaches and I listen while I garden!

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Bite-Size Book Reviews


I had sewing and cleaning to do this week, so I have more audiobooks than printed ones, and it’s quite a variety of genres! This collection has a little of everything: Historical fiction, action/adventure, Amish romance, a fun mystery and a classic detective story from Agatha Christie!  Which is your favorite genre? Let me know in the comments.



against the tide1. Against the Tide, audiobook, by Elizabeth Camden

“Against the Tide” is the first Elizabeth Camden book I have read. It’s set in Boston at the turn of the 20th century. This novel is creative at every step – the heroine is a Turkish orphan, the hero was raised by the villain, she works as a translator for the military and he fights the opium trade. It depicts the financial insecurity of middle-class workers (especially women)in that era, drug addiction in children and adults, and significant religious differences between the two main characters. Wow. I immediately picked up another of her novels and will review that one later.


n or m2. N or M? paperback, by Agatha Christie

RETRO READ! This is the third of Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence detective novels. The first, “The Secret Adversary”, was set immediately after WWI, and this one is during WWII. They are delightful characters, consistent with their younger selves in the previous book. The setting is pure Agatha Christie – a small small seaside town with a ring of Fifth Columnist spies. Their interactions with their young adult children will appeal to sympathetic middle-aged readers. Fun book, but read “The Secret Adversary” first.



courting cate3. Courting Cate, audiobook, by Leslie Gould

This was a fun read, with parallels to “The Taming of the Shrew.” I liked the second half of the book best; it was good to see how quickly the heroine matured under hardship. She and the hero seemed very natural in that part of the story, with realistic emotional responses to the situation. The hero’s character, in particular, was well-developed: he was a little resentful and angry at times, which led him to be stubborn, and embarrassed by his parents but completely committed to fulfilling his responsibilities to them. Because I am familiar with The Taming of the Shrew, I anticipated the ending of the story, and I wasn’t disappointed.



adoring addie4. Adoring Addie, audiobook, by Leslie Gould

This book is based on “Romeo and Juliet.” (Fortunately, this one has a happier ending than the original.) It is a more substantial book than “Courting Cate”. The author addresses some heavier issues than are usually seen in Amish fiction; on the surface, the parents appear to be unreasonable and demanding, but the author’s portrayal of the mother’s psychological/emotional problems is sensitive, creating a character who is quite complex. The father is also a surprisingly sympathetic character, as he struggles to be loyal to a difficult wife and worries about his son’s alcoholism. In my opinion, the love affair is less interesting than the relationships and situations of the other characters.


mirage5. Mirage, audiobook, by Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul

All of Cussler’s books are great fun, but The Oregon Files is my favorite series. This one is very much the same as the others, except that more information about the good guys is revealed to the bad guys, perhaps changing the dynamic of the series from now on. One of the things I enjoy most about Cussler is the way he takes extravagant “artistic liberties” with world history but goes into great detail about the history of ships, cars and engines. You can trust him to be 100% accurate with the existing ones and be theoretically sound about the ones he makes up.


murders of richard6. The Murders of Richard III, paperback, by Elizabeth Peters

I like Elizabeth Peters’s novels. They are not great fiction; the characters – even the heroines – are not always likable, but I enjoy her books. Jacqueline Kirby is not a likable heroine. She’s a bit tedious, with her stereotypical feminist attitude and condescension, but that makes her a great “straight guy” for setting off fantastic situations and odd people. In this one, she is surrounded by members of a fanatical Richardian society in full historical regalia, determined to vindicate their revered and maligned Richard the III. Jacqueline jumps into the role-playing and dashes around fixing all the crises. It’s silly. It’s fun. Now my interest is piqued, and it’s time to reread Josephine Tey’s “Daughter of Time.”


So which one do you think you would like best? Let me know!

Bite-size Book Reviews – Cathe’s Weekly Reading Digest


Bite-size, digest… Get it? An intestinal play on words there… and my kids say I have no sense of humor. HA!

I did quite a bit of writing this week, especially as I participated in Jeff Goins’s Intentional Blogging Challenge, but I still managed to read several books. This week’s books were all mystery/suspense, in a variety of styles, from different time periods.


  1. “Not Quite Dead Enough and Booby Trap”, both audio, by Rex Stout

Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin make fun reading while I am sewing. Rex Stout’s stories span several decades; these two are set during WWII, and that seemed to give them more substance. Michael Pritchard reads most of these books. I like them.

  1. “Baggage Claim”, kindle, by Amanda Tru

This short book was all action. The characters jumped right in, ran hard until the end and then it ended. The chase was exciting, but I never got to know the characters. Not a bad book, though. Hopefully it’s only the introduction to a series that will have longer stories and more character development. I would read the series. I really only downloaded it because I am writing a story with that same name and I was curious to see if we had similar plots. We don’t.

  1. “Breach of Trust”, kindle, by DiAnn Mills

Christian fiction. DiAnn Mills’s novels are very well-researched, with solid plots that don’t get sacrificed for the sake of a romantic, wrap-it-up ending. She’s not afraid to pull punches, either. I was surprised, several times, and wondered how the author would make it all work out. I can always count on DiAnn Mills for a good story.

  1. “A Key to Death”, hardcover, by Richard and Frances Lockridge

Retro Read! Traditional detective story, published in 1954. A well-plotted murder mystery featuring Mr. and Mrs. North and a law firm that’s rapidly losing senior partners. This one had several twists. Because I have read it before, I knew the ending, but it’s not a predictable solution!



  1. “Trojan Odyssey”, audio, by Clive Cussler

I’ve read this one before. Mr. Cussler does some audacious things with history – and he almost gets us to wonder if it really happened that way! Dirk Pit saves the world yet again. The nice thing about listening to Clive Cussler novels is that I don’t have to pay close attention. If he mentions a boat, he will tell you when and where it was built, by whom, who commissioned it and for what purpose, what kind of engine it has and why that is a good/bad choice. So if I miss a few minutes, it was probably just description. I like these stories, though. They are clean fun. The bad guys are really bad and the good guys are really good.

  1. “Tomorrow’s Sun”, kindle, by Becky Melby

Christian fiction. I am enjoying this one. It’s a little strange, because it’s set in my own town, and the author really knows the area. At one point, the characters raced within a few blocks of my home, on their way to the hospital. I’m glad they knew the shortcut, or they would never have made it there in time! It’s set in two time periods (don’t worry – no time travel, just two sets of people who lived in the same house, one during the Civil War and one in the present.) The modern hero and heroine of this story are startlingly realistic. As I read the story, their personalities, convictions and motivations seem perfectly natural to me. I look forward to finishing it soon.

  1. “Legend in Green Velvet”, paperback, by Elizabeth Peters

I haven’t read anything by Elizabeth Peters in a couple years, but I pulled some of her books off the shelves for my last blog post and was hooked into this one. It’s one of her stand-alone books, with the usual smart-aleck characters in improbably situations. I love it. She’s one of my favorite authors.