Sunday, March 24, 2019

REVIEW: No Way Out and Other Scary Short Stories

No Way Out and Other Scary Short Stories
Author: MJA Ware

I read an email newsletter the other day from an indie author who was lamenting that he recently gave away 800+ ebook copies of one of his books. Only 3 readers left a review. While I was not one of those he gave a copy to, I did download his book. I gladly read it and reviewed it. But, then I got to thinking about my own behavior as a reviewer.....

I have 500 books on my Kindle. Most are free or low cost books I bought/downloaded and then forgot about. I can't say I support indie authors if I download or buy their books.....and never get around to reading them.

No Way Out is one of those books that has been languishing on my Kindle. Since 2012. 7 years.

I'm making this right.....immediately. I am also declaring the rest of February as Indie month -- I'm going to read, enjoy and review as many books off my e-reader devices and apps as possible. My reviews, as always, will be honest reviews. I'm giving the gift of my time, effort and blog space to make up for being late to review a lot of ebooks.....I'm not softening my opinions. Truth always. But, kind and constructive of course.

Now on to my review of this book!

This book gathers 3 stories -- No Way Out, The Price of Friendship, and Hobgoblin Horror, plus an extended 5-chapter preview of Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb, another book by this author.

The stories are Halloween-y, slightly scary spooky tales. Older middle grade or teenager appropriate. Along the lines of Goosebumps stories, with a slightly more creepy plot. I love a good creepy story....so I enjoyed the three tales. I didn't read the preview chapters yet....just reviewing the 3 stories. I have Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb waiting on my kindle....so will save commentary on it for its own review.

Well-written, fun stories! Nice bit of spookiness, each with its own twist. A fun quick read!

MJ Ware has written several similar books for older kids. Most are available for free or low cost from Amazon. Enjoy!

**I received a free copy of this story from the author. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. I apologize for letting this book sit unread on my Kindle for 7 years....eeek! Such a quick read....I should have read it long ago!**


Saturday, March 23, 2019

REVIEW: Murder in Belgravia

Murder in Belgravia
Author: Lynn Brittney

Murder in Belgravia is the first book in a new series, the Mayfair 100 Mysteries. The series is set in World War I era England.

Chief Inspector Peter Beech realizes that crime is changing in the city of London now that the war is going full force. Many women have come to the city to work, taking over jobs previously held by men. Beech comes up with an idea to form a special task force to investigate crimes involving women. He firmly believes that Scotland Yard should add female investigators. Scotland Yard has a policy against women working with law enforcement, so while he is allowed to move ahead with the idea, Beech has to keep it quiet. The task force will have no arrest powers or permission to conduct official investigations. And there will be no women on the payroll, visible at crime scenes or mentioned to the media. Beech is optimistic that his experiment will be successful, even if they have to be completely behind the scenes.

Mayfair 100 is the phone number for the task force. Their first case involves Lady Harriet Murcheson. She has confessed to murdering her husband by stabbing him with a pair of scissors, but preliminary investigation of the scene points to someone else committing the crime. Can they discover the truth.....without anyone discovering them?

I love the setting and basic premise of this new series! So creative! The character development in this first book and the mystery kept my attention from start to finish. Victoria Ellingham and Dr. Caroline Allandyce are both intelligent, determined and feisty. C.I. Peter Beech is a great character as well. He knows his job....and knows when changes are necessary to make sure crimes are investigated and solved quickly. Beech knows that crimes committed by, and against, women need the thoughts and ideas of women involved in the investigation process....and he is determined to make that possible!

The mystery progressed at a nice pace with plenty of twists and suspects. I enjoyed how the new task force learned to work together and how each character developed during this first story. This series has a classic murder mystery feel to it. Loved it!

I will definitely be reading more of this series! I can't wait to find out what case they will investigate next!

**I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from Crooked Lane Books via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**


Friday, March 22, 2019

REVIEW: Trouble on the Books

Trouble on the Books
Author: Essie Lang

As soon as I read the blurb for Trouble on the Books, I knew I had to read this cozy mystery! Who could resist a cozy that involves a bookshop....in a castle....on an island? Not this reader!

Shelby Cox is taking a break from her editing job to help her Aunt Edie recover from knee replacement surgery. Shelby now owns half of Aunt Edie's business, Bayside Books. They are opening a new location on Blye Island, one of the Thousand Islands. Excited about tourist season and the shop in Blye Castle, Shelby is working to get the shop ready for the first day of tourist season. A difference of opinion with the volunteer coordinator regarding the bookshop's inventory puts a damper on her joy....which later turns into full-blown panic when the woman is found murdered in a grotto on the island. Soon, the local and state police (and even the Coast Guard) are involved in the investigation. The local police think the castle caretaker is the culprit....but Shelby suspects it has something to do with the island's history of smuggling. Can she prove Matthew Kessler didn't kill the cranky volunteer coordinator?

I enjoyed this first book in the new Castle Bookshop cozy series. The setting is awesome! The characters are fun and quirky. I like Shelby as a main character. She admits her faults (not really liking people, etc) and works through them. She's intelligent and determined. The side characters are engaging and likable. This book didn't rush the mystery, giving time to slip in some character development to start the series off right. I found the side plot about Shelby's past and her mother just as interesting as the murder mystery. Add in a sprinkle of romance, and it makes for a nice start to a new cozy series!

I enjoyed this book. I will definitely be reading more of this series!

**I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from Crooked Lane via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

Thursday, March 21, 2019

REVIEW: After Atlas

After Atlas
Author: Emma Newman

Carlos Moreno, abandoned by his parents as a child, is owned by Govcorp. He works for them as a detective. His contract has decades left....with time added for any sort of an infraction or mistake. Even simple needs like a decent meal or new clothes can add time onto his servitude. He looks forward to the day when he will be free...but most likely that day will never come. His parents left Earth 40 years before on a spaceship named Atlas with other members of a religious cult dedicated to finding truth and God in the universe.This second book in the Planetfall series doesn't deal with Atlas or the cult that left....but with those left on Earth. A prominent, powerful man is found dead in a hotel room. Carlos is assigned to the case. The deeper he delves into the death, the more secrets and lies he discovers. Turns out that Atlas was a much darker project than he ever imagined.

This story is an awesome futuristic murder investigation! It adds a whole new dimension to the series. Carlos is a strong, intelligent, driven main character. Due to his background, he always struggles with memories and self-doubt though. I'm sure I would too if my parents had abandoned me to go seek God. The story builds slowly to a climax I really didn't see coming. This is a very powerful story. Awesome mix of sci-fi and mystery!

I listened to the audio book version (Tantor Audio) of this story. Narrated by Andrew Kingston, the audio is 13 hours long. Kingston has a pleasant voice and reads at a nice pace. I have hearing loss, but was easily able to hear and understand the entire book. Very enjoyable listening experience!

This series has a very classic sci-fi feel to it. The books are complex, well-written, and absolutely engrossing. There are 3 books in the series so far, with a fourth, Atlas Alone, coming out in April 2019. I have the new book on my review list...can't wait to read it! I'm moving on to book 3, Before Mars.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

REVIEW: Monster Mashup

Monster Mashup
Author: MJ Ware

I'm on a bit of an MJ Ware read-a-thon this month after noticing (much to my embarrassment) that a free book I downloaded in 2012 by the author still had not been read and reviewed seven years later. Yikes! I need to keep better track of the content on my Kindle! After reading that particular book (enjoyed it too!), I'm continuing on and reading several other books by this author. I love a good spooky story....and MJ Ware's slightly creepy reads for kids are entertaining and fun to read! Even for this 50 year old grandma!

Monster Mashup gathers 12 short stories....all appropriate for kids ages 9+. The tales are spooky, but not graphically so. They remind me a bit of Goosebumps books....a bit of scary, implied gore and weird stuff....but nothing inappropriate for middle grade kids. A couple of these stories also appear in other books by MJ Ware (Bloody Marcy, No Way Out, Hobgoblin Horror, and Steven: Space Stowaway) and Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb is a short story that inspired the book-length tale by the same name.

The first 3 stories deal with mirrors and monsters. Great stories for any kid (or adult) who has ever seen anything weird in a reflection....or wondered if mirrors could be a portal to someplace else. The rest of the tales deal with various misadventures....investigating an old house, sneaking on a ship to Mars, finding out the real value of your friendship, visiting an old man to hear his war stories, mugging leprechauns for spare change, breaking into a mortuary, putting up with little brothers, and clearing out grandpa's room.  The final story, Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb, was lengthened into a novel. I just read it -- fun read! I highly recommend both versions!

I enjoyed all of the stories in this collection. My favorite is Hobgoblin Horror. :) Two kids visit an old veteran in a nursing home. He's a bit of a curmudgeon, but he tells great stories. The kids don't realize that his latest story is completely true.....and dangerous!

The front cover for this book is just awesome! Halloween has been my favorite holiday since I was a young child....and the cover art looks very very Halloween-y. :) Very colorful and eye-catching!

All in all, a nice collection of slightly spooky tales for kids. A fun, quick read! And I read and reviewed this one within two days of downloading it -- not 7 years! eek!

This book and others by MJ Ware are available for free download on Amazon. Enjoy! Read and review -- support indie authors! :)



Tuesday, March 19, 2019

REVIEW: Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb

Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb
Author: M.J. Ware

Nathan and Misty snuck out for some fast food sustenance late at night....and got caught by Misty's dad. Totally grounded. So then they decided to run away. Who knew that the zombie apocalypse would hit their town while they were hiding in the woods overnight? And who would have guessed that lemon juice kills the undead? It's Nathan, Misty, and a super geeky kid against the zombie horde. Just hope they don't run out of lemonade!

This book is a fun read! Cute story....reminds me a lot of the Goosebumps books my sons always liked to read when they were in elementary school.

Also included are two creepy short stories: Hobgoblin Horror and Bloody Marcy. I read Hobgoblin Horror in MJA Ware's other book, No Way Out. It's a great story told to two kids who visit an elderly vet in a nursing home. Bloody Marcy is a very short, but totally eerie story about a game of Bloody Mary gone wrong. There is also a preview of another book, Zack and Zoey's Alien Apocalypse.

The cover art for this book is awesome! I wanted to read it right away when I saw a girl shooting a zombie with a super soaker. What's not to love? :) Who needs a crossbow or a baseball bat when you can have a super soaker filled with lethal zombie juice? :)

Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb is available for free download from the authors website (http://www.mjaware.com/books.shtml) and also on Amazon.

**I downloaded this book for free. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. No zombies were harmed in the writing of this review.**

Monday, March 18, 2019

REVIEW: Murder Once Removed

Murder Once Removed
Author: S.C. Perkins

While explanations of once removed, twice removed and all that genealogy jazz aren't really my thing, this book sure is! I had a great time reading this first book in the new Ancestry Detective cozy mystery series. Genealogist Lucy Lancaster is hired to look into the family tree of Angus "Gus" Halloran. She discovers that his great-great-grandfather was murdered in 1849 with an old daguerreotype photograph and journals from a witness to prove it. Only problem is....the guilty party could be one of two culprits with the initials C.A. After Gus points a finger at a descendant of one of the C.A.-suspects, Lucy finds herself in trouble. The FBI shows up at her door. There's a robbery...someone tries to hack her office computer...and the woman restoring the photographic proof is murdered. Someone really wants information on this 160-year old murder to go away!

I really enjoyed this book. I like the mix of genealogy, humor and murder mystery. The characters are all fun and likable. My hands-down favorite is Neil Patrick Housecat, of course. What a name! I like Lucy as a main character. She's quirky, feisty when required, intelligent and very talented at research. The side characters help the investigation along as well as making the story fun to read.

The mystery moved along at a nice pace, with plenty of sleuthing and possible suspects. The story kept my attention from beginning to end. The ending wasn't overly predictable or old hat. Nicely done!

This is the first cozy I've read with a genealogy background theme. I found it creative and different! The front cover is colorful and fun....Neil Patrick Housecat is perched right in the middle with great cattitude. :) Cozies always have the best covers!

All in all, a fun read! I will definitely be reading more of this series.

**I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**