Unicorn of Many Hats

REVIEW: The Pact by Jennifer Sturman


An almost wedding mystery. Rachel Benjamin and her college girlfriends made a pact, once upon a time, to save one another from bad relationships. When Emma’s deplorable fiance dies the night before the wedding, Rachel has to wonder if one of her friends followed through on The Pact.

If it wasn’t one of the girls, there aren’t many other choices. The only people at the property were wedding party members or family. Who would have taken such drastic steps to keep Emma and Richard from getting married?


I read this series years ago, but didn’t remember much about it so I decided to read it again. Because I remembered so little, I was able to (unsuccessfully) try to guess at the culprit as if I was reading it for the first time.

The main characters  – the five college friends – are written well as distinct personalities. I hope the rest of the books in the series will give me a better sense of all five of them, as well as their significant others. I wanted to know more about them as I read this.

The mystery was delightfully twisty. I liked that it kept me guessing all the way through. There were plenty of possible culprits. And the motives were realistic and plausible. Rachel is an interesting sleuth. When she thinks someone did it, she goes all in! I’m looking forward to re-reading the other books in this series. This book did include some foul language.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Unicorn of Many Hats


I sometimes have a complicated relationship with books. For the longest time, I kept each book I read. Eventually this created a space issue. Then I decided to just keep the “special” ones. There were no criteria for this designation – just a gut feeling. I kept all of my mystery series for certain. And then books I enjoyed so much I thought I might re-read them. Since I enjoy a lot of books each year, this meant I was still keeping a lot.

Eventually, I realized there were so many books I wanted to read for the first time that it was unlikely I would actually re-read everything I kept. But there are some…

My comfort books. The ones I go back to because I love the story or the character. Books I associate with certain events or seasons of life. The ones that leave me feeling wistful when I see them and I know it’s been forever since I read them.  Books that make me want to drop everything and dive into them all over again. And every January I try to read through as many of them as I can. It’s like visiting with old friends. Here are some of my favorite re-reads.

1. Andrew Clements books – These are some of the first books for kids that I read and loved. Clements tells great school stories about kids and teachers you want to cheer for. Frindle and No Talking are my favorites, but most of his older books are re-reads for me!



 2. Wings of Fire series – I remember the year I was setting up my library’s book fair and saw this book. I was captivated by the description and read it right away. Then I told all of my students about it. This is a special series! The first five books deal with the war for Sand Wing (a dragon tribe) succession. The second series picks up with a new set of young dragons living in a post-war world. This series just launched book 9, with book 10 slated for this summer. There’s also a stand alone book that fills in some backstory as well as some short e-books. And I think the series gets better and better as each book releases. I’ve taken to re-reading the books in the second series (books 6+) in anticipation of each new book, and that helps me remember all the cool details that are going to matter when the next book comes out.

3. The Westing Game – I read this mystery as a kid and fell in love with the twists and turns. This is the sort of book that you finish and have to read again right away to see where you missed the clues to the solution. I’m thrilled to say this stands up to the test of time. My son read it and loved it, prompting me to read it again as an adult. It was just as awesome as I remembered. In fact, it has become a go-to re-read for my teenage son as well!


4. The Harry Potter Series – I can’t tell you how many times we have re-read or listened to these books at our house! Each of us has a physical set of the books. Then we also have all of the outstanding audio books read by the amazing Jim Dale. The antics of the kids and the fight for good to triumph over evil never gets old.



5. The Fixer series – I have raved about this series multiple times on this blog in the short time since it went live. Book two is even better than book one. The main character is feisty and sticks up for the underdog and I love her. I look forward to spending time with the characters in these books – sometimes more than once a year.



 6. The Amber Photograph – I have three books by Penelope Stokes that I re-read periodically (this one, The Amethyst Heart and The Blue Bottle Club), but this is my most consistent re-read of the three. This is my sick-day book. If I’m in bed and don’t care to watch a movie or anything else, I will pull this book out. It’s an emotional one about a young woman driving across the country in search of information about who she is and about another woman hiding from her past. God’s redemption weaves through the whole story. It’s outstanding.


7. Deadline – Amazing suspense/mystery with a strong salvation message! This is a long, intricate book that covers a lot of issues including abortion, woven around a mystery of why the main character’s two best friends are dead. I love the passages that show one of those friends exploring Heaven. Deadline is a fantastic and inspiring mystery that I love to read over and over.



8. Touched by an Alien series – This is a very different book from the last two. And I love these just as much. This is a science fiction/romance series that over time has evolved into a science fiction/romance/mystery/suspense series. In book one, Kitty Katt discovers there are aliens on earth and she helps them take down a major villain. Over the course of the series, Kitty and her friends have to puzzle out who the true villains are and take them down as well. With two books releasing each year, and 500+ pages in each, this series gives readers a LOT to enjoy. I have several volumes in this series that are my ultimate favorites, but I usually re-read the last few before a new release and then re-read my favorite passages (don’t tell – I dog-eared them in my books!) when I want to enjoy some of Kitty’s best moments. Unlike the last two books in my list, this series is not Christian. The world view is much more open and the romantic passages are quite detailed. They are easily skipped over for any reader who isn’t interested in that portion of the story.

9. The Sons of Destiny series – Eight brothers with magical powers are exiled on a remote island because there’s a prophecy that if the eldest beds a woman, disaster will ensue and other prophecies about the other brothers will start to come true. Each book in the series focuses on one of the brothers. Two of the books are told concurrently (a pretty cool idea) but the rest go in order over time so that by the last book, the last of the prophecies are coming to pass. I adore this fantasy series. I have my favorite books and others that are less so, but I love the world where these take place and the main characters are fascinating. This is another book with a secular perspective. The romantic scenes are spelled out in detail, but again are easily skipped past if you want to get back to the magic and the story.

10. The Katie Chandler series – The last of my re-reads list is another fantasy series. Katie lives in a contemporary New York City and discovers that wizards, fairies and other magical beings really exist. Katie, though, is an immune. She has no magic whatsoever, so not only can she not DO any magic, but she can see through the illusions that the magic community uses to stay hidden. This makes her an important asset to the magical community when less-than-ethical forces try to take control. I just started reading through these again and I was thrilled to discover an 8th book came out at the end of 2016! So not only do I get to enjoy re-reading a favorite series, but I get a new installment at the same time!


So, those are my favorite re-reads. Do you have any books that you go back to time and time again?