Tag Archives: Donna Fletcher Crow

Top 10 Tuesday: Books for Lovers of British Mysteries (+ A Canadian Cousin)

15 Aug

Top 10 Tuesday is back! Yay! The folks at The Broke And The Bookish had some well-deserved time off, but now they are back with great topics for book lovers. This week I’m talking about book recommendations for lovers of British mysteries. I love a good mystery and have found the following books to meet all the requirements — puzzling cases set in the British Isles. They run the gamut from historical and contemporary, amateur detectives and police procedurals, to urban and bucolic settings. Ironically, a couple of the series, while definitely having a British vibe, are authored by Americans. All are excellent!

Top Book Recommendations for Lovers of British Mysteries

+ A Canadian Cousin

(please note there may be more books in these series than are pictured)

The Aiden Mysteries by Fay Sampson


The Blitz Detective by Mike Hollow


The Drew Farthering Mysteries by Julianna Deering


The Faith Morgan Mysteries by Martha Ockley


A Father Gilbert Mystery by Paul McCusker


The Monastery Murders by Donna Fletcher Crow


A Mystery for D. I. Costello by Elizabeth Flynn


Poppy Denby Investigates by Fiona Veitch Smith


A Canadian Cousin!

The Herringford And Watts Mysteries by Rachel McMillan


What are some of your favorite mysteries?


Author, Author! — Donna Fletcher Crow

8 Jul

I am honored to have Donna Fletcher Crow, author of A Jane Austen Encounter (review HERE), give us a little glimpse into her life as a writer. Thanks so much, Donna, for sharing with my readers. 


DonnaCrow_45By The Book: Many authors say that they have always been a writer — making up stories as a child. When did you first become a writer?

Donna Fletcher Crow: “Making up stories as a child”— Absolutely! I was an only child living on a farm. I entertained myself with stories— and put myself to sleep at nights “watching television in my head”— before we had television. I wrote my first short story in the third grade and designed my first series of novels in the sixth grade. I didn’t start writing seriously, however, until I was in my thirties and had three of our four children.

BTB: Was there a special someone, such as a teacher, parent, or other relative, who encouraged you to pursue writing?

DFC: The most important thing was teachers and my mother who encouraged me to read. Especially the teachers who introduced me to the English classics, especially Jane Austen. I wrote my first novel Brandley’s Search when a minor character from a novel I read got in my head and wouldn’t let go until I had finished his story. It was like being pregnant.

BTB: When did you decide to write for the Christian market? Do you have a particular motivation to write books that contain faith threads?

DFC: It wasn’t a decision, it was simply that all my stories have a faith element. My passion is to see spiritual renewal in Great Britain, so most of my books tell stories of British Christianity. For example, A Jane Austen Encounter develops the theme of Jane Austen’s faith.

BTB: What does a typical writing day look like? Are you structured or informal in your writing schedule?

DFC: How nice to say structured instead of compulsive. First thing is morning devotions, which I have in my office while eating breakfast. Then to the computer: e-mail first, then to writing, research or editing— whatever part of the process I’m in on a book. About three o’clock I break for afternoon tea with my husband, whose office is also at home. We established this pattern when we had children coming home from school. It was a perfect time to gather everyone around the table to share about their day before going on to other activities.

JaneAusBTB: A Jane Austen Encounter, like so many of your other novels, is set in England. What is the attraction for you to set your books there?

DFC: Spiritual calling.

BTB: What types of research did you do in preparing to write this novel? Did you visit the sites or read Austen’s novels?

DFC: Absolutely to both. I’ve read all of Austen’s novels several times, but I did need to refresh my memory on Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and Emma, which are the ones I refer to the most. And, of course, The Watsons which is so central to the plot. I try never to write about a place I haven’t been myself, so I had a wonderful time following the Jane Austen trail to all of her homes. Elizabeth and Richard’s visits to these sites are a reflection of my visits. You can see pictures of my research trip here: http://www.donnafletchercrow.com/aJaneAustenEncounter.php

BTB: Will Elizabeth and Richard, the protagonists in A Jane Austen Encounter, be back in another novel?

DFC: Ah, thank you for asking. I am currently working on The Flame Ignites, a prequel that recounts their first meeting before the events of The Shadow of Reality and A Midsummer Eve’s Nightmare. After that it will be A Most Singular Venture, which will take Elizabeth and Richard through Jane Austen’s London. (BTB: So glad there will be another Austen-inspired book!)

BTB: Readers are always curious as to what a writer is working on or what is next to be published. Can you give us a glimpse of current works in progress?

DFC: A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary should be out in just a few weeks. This is book four in my Monastery Murders Series. It’s a contemporary mystery set in Oxford with a lot of Christian history in the background. It also has a lot about English bellringing in it and I had a great time learning about that with the Oxford University Society of Change Ringers.

BTB: What would you like to share about your personal life?

DFC: My husband and I celebrated our fiftieth anniversary last Christmas. It was an amazing event because all four of our children, their spouses and our 11 grandchildren were all there. Since then we’ve had another grandchild and our oldest grandson, an adopted Russian, is with the US Army in Afghanistan. When I’m not writing or playing with my grandchildren I love to garden.

BTB: Thank you so much for sharing with the readers of my blog.

DFC: Thank you, Beckie, it’s been a delight to visit with you. I would love to have your readers visit my website at http://www.donnafletchercrow.com/ and follow me on Facebook at http://ning.it/OHi0MY

Book Review: A Jane Austen Encounter

1 Jul

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
and the book:


Stone House Ink: 2013
***Special thanks to Donna Fletcher Crow for providing a review copy.***


DonnaCrow_45Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 43 books, mostly novels of British history. The award-winning Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail, an epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. She is also the author of The Monastery Murders: A Very Private Grave, A Darkly Hidden Truth and An Unholy Communion as well as the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the literary suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have 4 adult children and 13 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener. To read more about all of Donna’s books and see pictures from her garden and research trips go to: http://www.donnafletchercrow.com/.
You can follow her on Facebook.
Visit the author’s website.
JaneAusEnglish professors Elizabeth and Richard are celebrating twenty years of marriage with their dream vacation—visiting all Jane Austen’s homes in England. But not even the overpowering personality of their Oxford guide or the careful attentions of their new friends can keep the tour free from lurking alarms. When a box of old documents is donated to the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, Richard volunteers to help sort through it. Later that night, however, he finds the Centre’s director bleeding on her office floor. Could the valuable letter that has gone missing really lead them to new revelations about Jane Austen’s unfinished manuscript The Watsons? Encounter Jane Austen with Elizabeth and Richard on their tour. Visit all the sites so redolent of Jane Austen and her characters in the beautiful city of Bath. Stay in the Chawton House Library and visit the charming Chawton cottage where Jane’s writing flowered, and the nearby Steventon church where her father was rector and her own faith developed. Stand by her grave in Winchester Cathedral and enjoy your time at the lovely country estate of Godmersham. But don’t let your guard down. Evil lurks even in the genteel world of Jane Austen.


Product Details:

List Price:  $14.99

Paperback:  $14.99

Publisher: StoneHouse Ink  1 edition (February 20, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10:  1624820859

ISBN-13: 978-1624820854


My Impressions: 

Donna Fletcher Crow’s latest mystery, A Jane Austen Encounter (book 3 in the Elizabeth and Richard Mystery series), is a delightful cozy that will definitely appeal to the serious Jane Austen fan. Filled with references to some of Austen’s lesser known works, as well as interesting facts on her life and relatives, this novel poses the question of just how far an Austen scholar will go to get the next big discovery?

Elizabeth and Richard Spenser are married English professors. Elizabeth is recently retired and Richard is on sabbatical ostensibly to write a thesis on Austen. Their working holiday includes touring all of the sites of Jane Austen’s life and letters. But there are missing documents, mysterious stalkers and assaults that plague the group assembled to give them the best tour they can ask for. The two are no strangers to solving literary-themed mysteries, so they again set off to find out just whodunit.

A Jane Austen Encounter will appeal to the serious Janeite. I thought I knew a lot about Austen’s works and history, but Crow has included little known information that will thrill Austen’s fans. There is also a well-researched thread that pursues Austen’s spiritual life. The mystery keeps the story going, but it was the Austen info that captured my attention. I am not sure the book would have the same appeal to those unfamiliar with Austen’s work, but it is a must-read for any enthusiast.



“Ah, Bath!” Elizabeth sighed deeply and ran her fingers through her cap of mostly still-black hair. “Twenty years! Can you believe it took us so long to get here? Where did the time go?”

Richard’s eyes crinkled at the corners as he smiled at her across the teacups, then held up one finger in a wait-a-minute gesture and pulled his calculator out of his pocket. After a moment of keypunching he said, “I make it 10,000 lectures and 8,000 students between the two of us. That’s approximate, of course.” He started to snap his calculator shut. “No, wait, I forgot summer school.”

“Richard!” Elizabeth grabbed his hand to halt his calculations. “Stop! The question was rhetorical. And you make it sound even worse than I thought. One thing’s clear, though— we’ve certainly earned this sabbatical.”

“Is everything all right?” The soft English voice of their period-costumed waitress in a white mob cap interrupted Elizabeth’s reminiscence. She looked at the floral china tier tray in the middle of their table. The scones were gone, but the tray still held an assortment of finger sandwiches and tiny cakes.

“Everything is perfect.” Elizabeth smiled and gazed around the Regency Tea room above the Jane Austen Centre. “Well, perhaps we might have another pot of tea,” she amended.
“And how many of those lectures were on the sublime Jane, would you say, my love?” She turned back to her companion.

Richard started to reach for his calculator again, but Elizabeth stopped him. “No, no. I was joking. You can’t reduce Jane to simple numbers. Anyone would think you were a math professor instead of the most popular English literature lecturer Rocky Mountain College has ever had.”

“Who had the good sense to marry his head of department.” Richard raised his tea cup to her. “Still, between the two of us, what with my class on the English Novel and your Austen seminar, we can hope to have produced our share of Janeites.”
Elizabeth looked at the pale blue walls surrounding the roomful of tiny round tables where people sat sipping cups of tea and spreading scones with jam and clotted cream. She smiled at the portrait of Mr. Darcy just beyond Richard’s head.

“And for all those years we’ve dreamed of this trip.” She took a sip of her milky tea and leaned back in her chair. “I can’t believe we’re actually here.”

Richard bit into a salmon sandwich and chewed thoughtfully. “Twenty years. Any regrets?”

Elizabeth sat forward so sharply she almost sloshed her tea. “Oh, my dear. Not a one.” Then she paused. She had spoken quickly. And from the heart. And yet. . . “Not any more. Truly.”

She hid her contemplation under the activity of refilling her teacup from the fresh pot their waitress provided. Her words were true. There had been pain, but no regrets. Even the bad times were good because they had made both of them who they were today.

For the first years of their marriage there had been the grief of not having a child, once it became clear that it was not to be. That had been a sharp pain— fear, even, for Elizabeth. Knowing that Richard’s first wife and child had died in childbirth made her want so desperately to make all that up to him. And then she hadn’t been able to. And she was so afraid he would be disappointed. As was she.

And Richard? There had been that student who had set her cap at him. Richard had resisted, but the fact that he could be tempted had left scars. Scars that made them both stronger and wiser.

She gazed at the planes of his strong cheek bones, now softened a bit by time, and his still-rich brown hair, slightly less thick. But the thing that hadn’t changed at all was the burning intelligence behind his grey blue eyes. Or the way looking into them could make her heart leap.

Still, was Richard truly happy? He had never given the slightest indication that it bothered him that she was the head of the English Department, while he remained a professor. He never seemed to be the least bothered by the fact that his scholarly articles on Dante and some rather obscure English poets got less attention than her publications on more popular topics. When she was honored as Outstanding Graduate by her California alma mater a few years ago no one offered more fervent congratulations than Richard. And never once did he indicate feeling neglected at not receiving similar kudos from his university in New England.

Not often enough did she say Thank you for this truly good man. Their eyes met across the table. Did she read doubt in his?

Richard returned Elizabeth’s gaze. After all these years he still felt a jolt of surprise at times that this dynamic woman was his wife. He had fallen head-over-heels in love with her at their first interview when he had struggled so to answer her academic questions instead of blurting out an invitation for her to have dinner with him.

And then, that first year working together and his repeated proposals of marriage— always turned down with such gentle humor that he kept up the courage to ask again. And finally, that cold, wet night at a mountain top resort and the unveiling of an audaciously wily murderer when she said, “Yes!”

But had she been right? He was a rather dull fellow, he knew it: Given to prosing on about some abstract subject; always one to play it safe; never splash out and take chances. Would he have risen higher in his career if he had been more adventurous? Would Elizabeth be happier?

But as the years rolled on at their dizzying speed with their lives so full of students and friends and colleagues and family times as they played aunt and uncle to Elizabeth’s sister Tori’s brood, he had come more and more to value their quiet times together. And suddenly here they were— celebrating their twentieth anniversary with the sabbatical they had always dreamed of, touring all the sites where Jane Austen had lived.

Of course, for him it would be a bit of a busman’s honeymoon since Rocky Mountain required their faculty to produce works of scholarly research in order to justify granting a sabbatical. And coming up with an appropriately erudite subject was his most pressing mission at the moment. Lucky Elizabeth, she was free of all that now.

“Sure you don’t regret resigning your position as department head?” Richard cut in on her reverie.

“Especially not that! What a relief to be free of the administration work. No, I’m definitely ready for a change of pace. A new challenge.”

The words rang in Elizabeth’s own ears as she spoke them. A new challenge. Yes, that was what she needed. With all the busyness of finishing up the school year and getting ready for this trip, she hadn’t given the future much thought. But hearing the words spoken aloud— from her own mouth— made her wonder. She was only in her fifties— a young woman by today’s standards. As attractive as sitting around reading novels and eating bon bons sounded, she knew such shallowness would have her screaming in less than a week. If they had had children she might be expecting grandchildren now, but as it was. . .

Richard raised an eyebrow. He looked almost worried, as if she had spoken the very words he had been thinking. “You weren’t bored were you?”

Elizabeth chuckled. Richard knew well her low tolerance for boredom. She had turned down his first proposals of marriage under the misapprehension that he would be boring. How wrong she had been to mistake thoughtfulness for dullness. In twenty years life with Richard had never been dull.

And she was determined to see to it that it not become dull now. Whatever new direction life took it must offer challenge.
And, to be completely honest, their life had settled into something of a routine after the very exciting start their relationship had solving an actual murder at that mystery weekend that was intended to be merely a carefree intellectual puzzle. And then, only a few months later, facing down a murderer once more on their honeymoon. That had been the first scrape her sister Victoria had involved them in and there was the one other. . . Goodness, after all that and some 8000 students, it was little wonder she felt they had justly earned an idyllic trip to England.

She nibbled at a delicate cucumber sandwich and recalled those long-ago adventures to Richard. But they obviously weren’t lighthearted memories for her husband. He reached across the table and took her hand. “Don’t. When I think of you being in danger. . .”

Elizabeth laughed. “I don’t think I was ever in serious danger. Still, I wouldn’t want to be chasing murderers again.”
Richard gave her one of his wonderful, eye-crinkling smiles. “Little fear there, not with lovely, civilized Jane. No murder, no sex, no zombies.”

“Definitely no zombies! You’ll find us all purists here. Guaranteed.” Elizabeth started at the clipped, English voice of the newcomer and looked up at a woman with blunt-cut iron grey hair, her broad shoulders encased in a shocking purple blouse.

“Dr. Greystone?” Richard rose and took the hand the newcomer offered for a vigorous handshake. Elizabeth saw that she was almost as tall as Richard.

“Call me Muriel. Please, don’t get up. I didn’t mean to interrupt your tea.”

“No, not at all, won’t you join us? This is my wife Elizabeth.” Richard pulled out a vacant chair for their guest.
Muriel Greystone accepted the chair Richard offered and the cup of tea Elizabeth poured when the waitress brought another cup. “No milk. Two sugars,” Muriel Greystone directed and accepted a sandwich from the tray Richard held out to her. “Sorry to be late. Trains from Oxford always unreliable. And then Gerri must stop in the loo. She’ll be along soon.”

“Gerri?” Richard asked.

“Geraldine Hammersley, my assistant, working on her PhD. Very keen on Jane, she is. Surely I mentioned her in one of my letters— writing her thesis on Jane Austen’s spiritual life.” The corners of her mouth pulled down in a near-grimace. “Sounds a bit wet, I know. But a valid enough topic, I suppose, what with Jane being a daughter of the manse and all that.”

“We both enjoyed your article on Jane Austen’s use of landscape to exhibit character in the JASNA journal, Dr. Greystone, er— Muriel,” Elizabeth said. Although the correspondence had been almost entirely between Richard and Dr. Greystone he had shared all her letters with Elizabeth after he began writing to the author of the aforementioned article following its publication by the Jane Austen Society of North America.

Richard had been delighted when the noted academic had offered to be their tour guide to the sites of Jane’s homes. Elizabeth readily saw the advantage that offered for Richard’s sabbatical study, even though Muriel Greystone might not have been quite the first person Elizabeth would have chosen to accompany them on what was intended to be something of a second honeymoon. But at least they weren’t likely to have this time interrupted by murder as their first honeymoon had been.

“So sorry to be late.” A short, plump woman with frizzy red hair in trousers tunic and flowing orange scarf scuttled into the empty chair at their table before Richard could stand to help her.

“Never mind, Gerri. I made your excuses,” Dr. Greystone said. “Richard, Elizabeth, this is Geraldine Hammersley. Gerri, the doctors Richard and Elizabeth Spenser.”

Geraldine pushed her tortoiseshell glasses back up on her nose. “I’m so pleased to meet you. I’m so looking forward to researching together.”

Muriel Greystone took another sandwich but didn’t offer the tray to Geraldine. “Don’t suppose you want anything, Gerri, since you had tea on the train.”

“Oh.” Geraldine looked uncertain. “Oh, no. No thank you.”

Elizabeth wasn’t so sure. “Are you sure? We can easily ask for another cup.”

“No, really. Thank you.” Geraldine studied the white tablecloth.

“Well, then, if you’ve all finished—” Muriel finished her tea with a gulp and pushed her chair back. “I suggest we get on about our work.”

Elizabeth eyed the pastry remaining on the tray, but rose obediently when Richard stood and placed a hand on the back of her chair to pull it out for her.

“Told Claire— the director here, you know— I’d do the lecture for the next batch of punters. The potted history their tour guides here produce are all very well, but bit of a treat for them to get a real scholar’s view, don’t you know. Wouldn’t want to say no and I knew you wouldn’t mind.”

“No, of course not, we’re delighted,” Richard said. “We haven’t done the tour of the centre yet. We’d be most honoured to have you guide us.”

“Absolutely.” Elizabeth realized her smile was forced, but really, what possible objection could there be to having an expert as a personal guide?


Book Review: An Unholy Communion

24 Apr

213532_w185Following the ancient tradition, ordinands from the College of the Transfiguration gather at first light on Ascension morning to sing their praises from the top of the college’s tallest tower. Not one to miss any liturgy, Felicity finds herself swept up in worship as she listens to the timeless words. But her delight quickly turns to horror when a black-robed body hurtles over the precipice and lands at her feet. Her investigative instincts immediately kick in when she sees a double-headed snake emblem clutched in the lifeless hand. Was this suicide? Or murder?

DCrow-161Donna Fletcher Crow is author of more than thirty-five novels. She has twice won first place in the Historical Fiction category from the National Association of Press Women, and has also been a finalist for “Best Inspirational Novel” from the Romance Writers of America. She is a member of The Arts Centre Group, and Sisters in Crime.

My Impressions:

I like a good mystery and An Unholy Communion by Donna Fletcher Crow is a good mystery! Set along the ancient pilgrim way in Wales, Felicity Howard and her fiance, Antony, face the stress of leading teenagers and young adults on a tour of ancient sites of historical and ecclesiastical importance. Felicity views the walking tour as a means to find some peace and quiet as well as escape the grief and shock of witnessing a young priest’s death. But it seems there is no escape as the group of pilgrims is plagued with accidents and other unexplained happenings. And the strange symbol Felicity found near the body of the dead priest seems to show up wherever they go. The suspense just grows and grows for Felicity, along with the reader.

There are a few things I absolutely loved about An Unholy Communion. I liked the way the author brought the past into the present, especially through the story telling of Father Antony. The description of Wales of today contrasted with the tales of Roman centurions, monks and common Welshmen brought a wonderful depth to the story. I also liked the use of the paranormal in a way that left the reader, as well as the characters, trying to decide what was supernatural and what was the evil intent of flesh and blood. The mystery is a puzzle and the characters and the reader are given the clues at the same time. I like when I test my theories against those of the characters. The deep faith of the characters is also a wonderful addition.

All in all a great novel for those who love mystery and history.


To read other reviews, click HERE.

(I received a copy of this book in conjunction with LitFuse. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase a copy of An Unholy Communion, click the image below.

Donna Fletcher Crow is celebrating the release of An Unholy Communion with a Kindle Fire Giveaway.

One winner will receive:

  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • Books 1-3 in The Monastery Murders series by Donna Fletcher Crow

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 12th. Winner will be announced on 5/14/13 {HERE}.


Book Review: A Darkly Hidden Truth

22 Feb

Felicity can’t possibly help Father Antony find the valuable missing icon. She’s off to become a nun. And then her impossible mother turns up unexpectedly. And a good friend turns up murdered…

Breathtaking chase scenes, mystical worship services, dashes through remote water-logged landscapes, the wisdom of ancient holy women, and the arcane rites of The Knights Hospitaller keep the pages turning. Will Felicity choose the veil – or Antony?


Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 36 books, mostly novels dealing with British history. The award-winning Glastonbury, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work.  A Very Private Grave, Book 1 in the Monastery Murders series, is her reentry into publishing after a 10-year hiatus. Book 2, A Darkly Hidden Truth, will be out this fall, and she is at work on Book 3, An Unholy Communion, scheduled for 2012.

Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have 4 adult children and 10 grandchildren. Donna is remembered by Idahoans with long memories as a former Queen of the Snake River Stampede, Miss Rodeo Idaho and runner-up for Miss Rodeo America. She is an enthusiastic gardener.

My Impressions:

A Darkly Hidden Truth continues the mysterious doings of Felicity and Father Antony (begun in A Very Private Grave) as they endeavor to discover the whereabouts of a stolen icon from the Community of The Transfiguration (CT).  Felicity is a young American woman struggling with her spiritual path.  She has been studying at CT and is on the threshold of making a commitment to greater devotion by entering a convent.  Antony, a history lecturer at the community has decided against becoming a monk due to his increasing interest in Felicity.  But despite her determination to go on a pilgrimage of discernment, Felicity cannot help but be drawn into the mystery that soon involves more missing icons and the murder of a fellow student.

A Darkly Hidden Truth blends church history and modern mystery. Although it is book 2 in a series, it can be read as a stand alone novel.  Not familiar with the Church of England, I learned all kinds of things.  I didn’t know there were Anglican nuns and monks and that the break with the traditions of the Roman Catholic church was not as dramatic as with other Protestant denominations.  As Felicity and Antony visit various religious communities and shrines, the history of the church develops along with the mystery.

The characters of Felicity and Antony are well-developed.  Felicity is endearing and exasperating.  Her desire to take vows could not be more opposite to her impulsive personality.  And Antony is long-suffering in his devotion to Felicity. Felicity’s mother also makes an appearance and that adds to the conflict and tension in Felicity’s decision-making.

The mystery of the stolen icons is interesting and there are quite a few candidates for the crime.  The book keeps the reader guessing to the end.  One negative however is the pace of the story.  I didn’t feel the action moved along quickly enough.  But it did mirror the pace of the various religious communities that the characters visit.

If you like historical and mystery fiction, you will like A Darkly Hidden Truth.

(I received A Darkly Hidden Truth from Kregel in return for an honest review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)