Friday, September 30, 2016

REVIEW: Chills

Author: Mary SanGiovanni

**I was provided a copy of this book by Kensington Publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review.**

A freak snowstorm hits Colby, Connecticut in mid-May, dropping more than four feet of snow on the small town. The lateness of the storm seems unusual enough, but then a body is discovered hanging from a tree surrounded by strange cultish symbols. local police detectives Jack Glazier and Reece Teagan know it's time to call in Kathy Ryan. Ryan, a detective with knowledge of ritual occult murders, begins investigating the Hand of the Black Stars Cult. The cult is performing rituals and making sacrifices to bring about an event that is too horrific to contemplate. If the detectives can't stop the cult before they complete their mission, unspeakable horrors will be unleashed on the residents of Colby and all of humanity.

This was truly a chilling tale. This fast-paced story is a mix of police procedural and horror, starting with a seemingly innocent late season snow storm and progressing to nightmarish horrors.

Kathy Ryan is a well-developed main character. The author provides enough of her back story to explain why she became a detective and an expert in the occult. The rest of the characters are pretty thinly developed, but I believe that is because this is a fast-paced story that really doesn't require a whole cast of completely developed characters. The story jumped right into the creepiness without getting bogged down in too much unnecessary detail. The ending was satisfying, and set up the possibility of a follow-up book or continuing series.

For me, this story was paced well and most definitely creepy. It definitely gave me the chills -- so I think the title is perfect. A fast-paced, horrific trip into the black abyss of ritual murder and nightmarish monsters!

Don't read this book at home alone during a blizzard! Nightmares will abound! :) Chills just released this week -- pick up a copy from your favorite local bookstore!

Mary Sangiovanni is no new-comer to the horror genre. She has written several horror novels including The Hallower trilogy, Thrall and The Fading Place. Check out her website here:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

REVIEW: Death by Pumpkin Spice

Death By Pumpkin Spice
Author: Alex Erickson

**I received a copy of this book from Kensington Publishers via NetGalley in exchange for writing a fair, honest review.**

Bookstore Cafe owner, Krissy Hancock, snags a great date for the annual Halloween festivities at Yarborough Mansion, but the evening quickly becomes a horror. Not only does she have to dodge an old flame and a marriage proposal, but a woman dressed as Marilyn Monroe is found strangled in a room eerily decorated with creepy jack o'lanterns. The estate is locked down and everyone is a suspect. Krissy helps Officer Paul Dalton in his investigation to discover who brought death to the party.

The Halloween theme is definitely well represented in this book -- torrential rainstorm, creepy old house, scary jack o'lanterns and a murder!

I haven't read the other books in the Bookstore Cafe series, but I enjoyed this book without having read the books in order. The main character was likable, but a bit socially awkward. She has some real issues in her personal relationships with men. But, all in all, I found the plot engaging and the mystery interesting. There were plenty of suspects, twists and turns.

Death by Pumpkin Spice released September 27th just in time for Fall!!

This is the 3rd book in the Bookstore Cafe Mystery series. Check out the author's website here:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

REVIEW: Black Cat Crossing

Black Cat Crossing
Author: Kay Finch

I am a cat lover, especially black cats. Who can resist a miniature black panther? Not me! So the minute I saw the cover art for this book and read the plot synopsis, I knew I would enjoy reading this book!

The basics: Sabrina Tate dreams of writing The Great America Novel, so she moves to Lavender, Texas to help her aunt manage her vacation rental business. Locals are blaming a string of bad luck -- including Sabrina's aunt breaking her leg -- on a black cat, El Gato Diablo. Not believing in superstition, Sabrina seeks to befriend the cat. When the mysterious feline leads her to dead body, Sabrina knows her aunt will be a suspect in the death of her dead-beat cousin, Bobby Joe Flowers. Sabrina finds herself struggling to find time to write amid a murder investigation and protecting her new black furry friend.

This cozy mystery is nicely paced and an enjoyable read. The mystery portion of the plot is interesting, with just a bit of the supernatural thrown in for ambiance. Sabrina Tate is a likable and believable main character. As in most cozy mysteries, the supporting characters aren't overly developed, but have enough detail to keep the story moving. I had a bit of hard time liking the Aunt, as she really didn't care that her cousin was dead. He was a jerk and a cad, but times she seemed actually glad he was dead. The mystery has multiple suspects, several twists and turns, and comes to a thrilling end.

The cover art is absolutely awesome! Spooky, mysterious and beautiful!

Black Cat Crossing is the first book in the Bad Luck Cat Mystery series. Book two in the series, The Black Cat Knocks on Wood, was published in June 2016. Kay Finch also writes the Corie McKenna Mystery series. Learn more about her books on her website:

REVIEW: High Kicks, Hot Chocolate and Homicides

High Kicks, Hot Chocolate and Homicides
Author: Mary McHugh

**I received a copy of this book from Kensington Publishing via NetGalley in return for a fair, honest review.**

In this 5th book in the Happy Hoofers Mystery series, the girls are joining the Rockettes in New York City for their annual Christmas performance. Set to dance to Santa Claus is Coming to Town in 40 lb big-bellied Santa outfits, the troupe is ready to start daily rehearsals with the famous Rockettes. As usual, a murder puts a bit of a damper on their holiday spirits. Head Rockette Glenna Parsons is found dead under the stage, mangled by machinery. The show must go on, but the Happy Hoofers know the murderer must be found before another dancer falls prey.

This book was an enjoyable, light read. I loved reading about what the Rockettes training is like, and all about the holiday decorations and preparations for their Christmas performance. As usual, the story was a nice blend of humor and light mystery. This book is told from the point of view of  Mary Louise (called Weezy by her friends), and she delights in asking restaurants for their recipes. In real life, I think most would say no....but, in this case, they said yes....and the yummy recipes appear at the end of each chapter! :)

I enjoyed the characters for the most part, although Weezy's inability to make a final decision regarding her marriage was a bit frustrating. It was not any fault of the writing or the plot....just my wishing I could somehow jump in there and tell her to make up her mind already! ha! :) She did finally make up her mind...but no spoilers! Read the book to discover her choice -- George or Mike.

This was definitely a fun, quick afternoon read. The recipes are for really yummy dishes like lobster salad, crabcakes, trout and bacon, and pastry shells with caviar.

High Kicks, Hot Chocolate & Homicides just released this week! Pick up a copy at your local bookstore! You won't be disappointed!

Mary McHugh has written several other books including How Not to Become A Little Old Lady. Visit her website at

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

REVIEW: The Book Club Murders

The Book Club Murders
Author: Leslie Nagel

Charley Carpenter loves retro clothing and has finally realized her dream: to own a vintage clothing shop. She is busily pouring her heart and soul into Old Hat and doing everything she can to make it successful. To drum up some business with the upper-crust ladies in Oakwood, Ohio, she joins a mystery book club, The Agathas. Each month the club members meet at a member's home to discuss a murder mystery novel. Charley finds the books enjoyable, but most of the members of Agatha are spoiled, snooty and condescending. When two ladies with close ties to the group are found murdered, their bodies posed in imitation of crime scenes from the book club's reading list, every member of The Agathas is a potential victim -- and a suspect.

This is a debut novel from Leslie Nagel. I love reading new authors! This book was well-written and enjoyable. The mystery was filled with suspense, twists and turns, and an exciting ending! I wasn't sure who the killer was until the very end!

Charley Carpenter is a likable main character. As in most cozy mysteries, her love interest is the detective assigned to the case, Marc Trenault. The romance doesn't overshadow the mystery...there's just enough to sweeten the story. I like the fact that she is independent, intelligent and a strong woman. Nagel did an excellent job developing her characters. The wealthy members of the book club are irritatingly snobbish, but not overly so. Marc has just a bit of jerk thrown in among his good looks and charm. And, Charley's friends have personalities that help move the plot along nicely. All in all, a very well written cozy mystery and an excellent first novel!! I can't wait to read more by Leslie Nagel!

The Book Club Murders is the first book in The Oakwood Mystery Series. The book released September 27th. Learn more about the author on her website:  The site has information on her books, books she recommends and even some great writing tips!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

REVIEW: Eggnog Murder

Eggnog Murder
Authors: Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, Barbara Ross

**I received a copy of this upcoming book from Kensington Press via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review**

Eggnog Murder is a collection of three Christmas themed cozy mysteries. Twinkle lights, Christmas carols....and murder. Perfect combination for mystery lovers!!

I loved this collection, as the stories are by 3 of my favorite cozy authors!

First up -- Leslie Meier. In Eggnog Murder, Lucy Stone is on the case looking for the Scrooge who poisoned a Tinker's Cove local with a tainted bottle of eggnog. Meier's Lucy Stone series never fails to deliver a great mystery, and this short addition to the series is no exception!

The second story is Death by Eggnog, written by Lee Hollis. Food and Cocktails columnist Hayley Powell investigates the death of a local cranky librarian who met her demise guessed it....bad eggnog. Hayley once again serves up justice in her spunky way! Loved it!

And, last but not least, wrapping up this lovely collection of Christmas cozies is Nogged Off by Barbara Ross. After bad eggnog causes food poisoning at a holiday party, a corpse shows up in Julia Snowden's moving van. A fun holiday whodunit!

This trio of stories is sure to put cozy lovers in the holiday spirit! All 3 are well-written short mysteries revisiting some favorite characters. Wonderful, holiday theme quick reads!

Eggnog Murder will release October 25th from Kensington Books. Kick off your holiday season with a little murder!  (PS - Don't drink the eggnog!!!)

REVIEW: The Haunted Heist

The Haunted Heist
Author: Angie Fox

**I received a copy of this book from Season Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review**

Verity Long sees dead people. And after accidentally grounding a spirit to her property by disturbing his ashes, she also lives with one. To be specific, Frankie - a long dead gangster - is now her nearly constant companion. While Frankie can be a bit annoying, he has helped her learn about the spirit world and has even assisted her in solving mysteries. In this third installment in the Southern Ghost Hunter series, the two are back at it again.

The basics: Verity has been having financial problems after raising the ire of a vindictive local rich woman. She's sold off every possession she could spare and then some to keep solvent. When a local banker offers her a full time position designing brochures for the bank, she jumps at the chance. But, before she even gets started, her new boss is shot to death in the bank's vault. It seems every time there is a major crime in Sugarland, Verity is right there in the thick of it.

This book is a fun read! Verity is an engaging and believable main character. She has spunk and ingenuity. She deals with financial problems, ghostly encounters and murder with strength and a good sense of humor. I love the fact that she has a pet skunk named Lucy! Add in her hauntingly dead pal Frankie, and it makes for an enjoyable cozy, paranormal romp. The action starts off immediately and doesn't let up til the end. The plot was well-paced, with exciting elements throughout -- gangster ghosts, hunky cops, graveyard exploits. All in all, a fun quick read!

The murder portion of the plot was nothing new and I had it figured out before the end, but the story was so much fun that it didn't effect my enjoyment of the book at all.

This is the first book by Angie Fox that I have read. Although The Haunted Heist is the third book in this series, I was able to jump right in and enjoy the story with no problem. It isn't necessary to read the books in order. Although some events from the first two books are referenced, there are no spoilers given. I will definitely be reading the other books in this series!

This book would definitely be a great fall read for anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries or humorous paranormal reads! Great book for Halloween season reading!!

Angie Fox also writes the Demon Slayer series. Learn more about the author and her books on her website:

Saturday, September 24, 2016

REVIEW: The Twelve Dogs of Christmas

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas
Author: David Rosenfelt

**I received a copy of this upcoming book from St. Martin's Press Via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review**

Christmas. Puppies, Vegas. Murder. Political intrigue. Hit men. This book has it all!

I have to admit that the holiday cover art adorned with cute, fuzzy puppy faces drew my attention to this book immediately. Great marketing St.Martins -- who can resist a sweet puppy face? Definitely not this reviewer. Once I started reading though, I couldn't put the book down. This is the first book by David Rosenfelt I've read, and I found his writing engaging, humorous, and witty.

This is the 15th book in the Andy Carpenter mystery series. It isn't necessary to have read any of the prior books to enjoy this one. I jumped right in and enjoyed the story with no prior knowledge of the characters.

The action starts from the first page and the book continues a nice, suspenseful pace to the end. The dialogue between characters is witty and humorous. The characters are well-developed and interesting. The plot starts out basic, but soon becomes larger-than-life, but in a believable way. It doesn't come off as cheesy or over the top. This book is a fun mystery with a touch of Vegas thriller. It also throws in a bit of a holiday season theme, without taking it too far. The Christmas puppy angle doesn't over shadow the mystery, it's just a bit of garnish to decorate the plot.

The basics: Local dog rescuer "Pups'' Boyer comes under the scrutiny of the local zoning board after a neighbor complains about the number of rescue puppies at her home. Andy Carpenter steps in to assist her with the zoning issue because she does so much good for the local dog rescue center. The case soon becomes much more serious after the complaining neighbor is murdered and the gun discovered in Pups basement. As Andy digs into the case, he discovers there is more going on than feuding neighbors. Much, much more.

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas will be available from St Martins Press on October 18th.

I am definitely going to read more of the Andy Carpenter series. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Find out more about David Rosenfelt and his books on his website:

REVIEW: The Ill-Kept Oath

The Ill-Kept Oath
Author:  C.C. Aune

**I received a copy of this upcoming book from W.I. Creative Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review.**

Set in Regency England, the Ill-Kept oath is about cousins Prudence Fairfeather and Lady Josephine Weston. The two young ladies are coming of age, and will discover true magic, adventure and family secrets that will change their lives forever. This isn't a run of the mill historical romance. Not even close. Take a London Season for Prudence and the excitement of uniformed soldiers for Josephine and add in magical talismans, trolls in the forest, and dangerous family secrets. It makes for a fun, exciting, supernatural-fantasy-historical-romance thrilling romp!

I loved this book! The two main characters are very different in personality but both are engaging and believable. The side characters were well-developed and the story engaging throughout. I loved the threat of trolls wandering through the woods outside the Manor. It made the story a bit like Pride and Prejudice and Trolls. Who needs zombies when you have trolls?

The plot was not predictable. It left me guessing until the end. There were several twists and turns that I didn't see coming. I was engrossed in the story the entire time!

I love the fact that C.C. Aune took a basic story added in some zigs and zags and created a combination romantic-fantasy-supernatural tale! Although she has been writing for most of her life, this is C.C Aune's first published book. What a kick-ass debut novel!!! I absolutely LOVE IT when I read a first book that just knocks my socks off!! I will definitely be looking for more books by this author!

This book would definitely make a great movie!

The Ill-Kept Oath will be published by W.I. Creative Publishing on September 27th. For readers who enjoy period romance, sci-fi, fantasy or action-adventure, I highly recommend reading this book!! Pick up a copy and help a first-time author, or ask your library to get a copy for their shelves! You won't be sorry!!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

REVIEW: Halloween Party by James Livingood

Halloween Party
Author: James Livingood

**I received a free kindle version of this short story collection from Paper Backward via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review**

Now that all the pumpkin spice products are appearing in grocery stores, I knew it was time to start my annual binge on horror and Halloween reading! This short story collection by James Livingood caught my eye on NetGalley as it promised to be a quirky, fun read. I was not disappointed!

Halloween Party includes 3 short stories: Frankenstein IT Support, Swamp Monster Voodoo and Vampire Caving.

In the first story, Frankenstein hates his job at McTech answering phone support questions. The building is too brightly lit, the walls make him claustrophobic, and everything is beige. A dungeon would have more character. So, he holds 9-volt batteries to his tongue several times a day for a shocking pick-me-up and drudges his way through his life in a cubicle.

I loved this story. Mental pictures of Frankenstein's monster working in phone tech support was delightfully fun. His habit of taking hits of electricity off batteries he hides in his desk drawer was awesome! The tech calls he receives are amusing. Having worked in tech support myself, it put a smile on my face as I received many, many completely silly calls from consumer with ID10T issues.

In Swamp Monster Voodoo, a swamp creature is mentored by a voodoo master. The creature can talk to the living and the dead, so the two work together to give clients messages from dead relatives. The two end up parting ways, however, after a client spots the swamp creature and accuses the voodoo master of consorting with demons. The monster decides to put his newly learned voodoo skills to work, opening a business that offers services to ghosts in return for them pointing out locations of buried treasure. When one ghostly client tries to rip him off, the creature has to teach her the importance of paying debts.

This tale had a spookily amusing moral to teach. Totally fun read!

And lastly is the tale of two vampires, Richard and Bernie. Friends in the 1920s when they were turned into vampires after a night of drinking, the two men join different bands of vampires. One group, called Doomdayers, builds underground lairs for survival and training new vampires. And the other -- the Hot Heads -- explores the world and brings back information, technology and other modern items to share with the Doomdayers. Richard is a Doomdayer. Bernie becomes a Hot-Head. Bernie wants to learn all about the origin of vampires, and Richard gives him information on a cave that might just have the answer to all his questions. Armed with all the gear he needs to go cave diving, Bernie ventures forth to discover his roots. He discovers more than he ever imagined.

This story was more fantastical than funny. The description of the cave and what he found there was done in a magical, engaging way. This was my favorite story of the 3!

This is a great, quick read for anyone wanting to get into the Halloween spirit. The tales are more amusing than spooky, but well worth a read!

James Livingood is the author of several other books including Pale Rider: Zombies Versus Dinosaurs. Check out his website:

Saturday, September 10, 2016

REVIEW: A Witch's Kitchen

A Witch's Kitchen
Author:  Dianna Sanchez

**I received a copy of this upcoming book from Dreaming Robot Press via NetGalley in exhange for a fair, honest review.**

Ludmilla, who prefers to be called Millie, is a terrible witch. She would much prefer to spend her days cooking, but to make her mother happy she struggles to learn her spells, potions and incantations. But, every time she tries, the results are horrific. Millie's sleep potions become chamomile tea, and potions meant to turn enemies into toads turn into chocolate instead. Then she's offered a chance to attend school with others from the Enchanted Forest. She accepts the challenge. It's embarrassing for a witch to attend school with non-witches, but Millie figures that school will be better than staying at home being embarrassed by her lack of witch-skills. At school she makes friends with all sorts of magical kids -- pixies, leprechauns, elves, and others. As Millie gains confidence, her magical skills begin to appear. The only problem is that she has very little control over them. Millie finds herself still questioning whether she is really a witch. Her friends decide to help her by taking her to see her father in the Logical Realm, a land with no magic. Maybe a trip to Salem, MA will help her discover if she will ever be a real witch.

This middle-grade book was such a fun read! It was nice to see the main character learn and gain confidence in herself. She had to endure teasing, bullies and self-doubt over her problems with magic. This story has a great message for girls and boys alike. Be who you are! The book is well-written. The story pace was perfect. The book got its message across without getting preachy or too dry. Sanchez incorporates a lot of age-appropriate humor to make this a very enjoyable, middle-grade story.

As soon as I finished reading the galley of this book, I went online and pre-ordered a copy for my granddaughter. I think this book has an excellent lesson in it for girls. Be proud of what makes you unique and always be who you are!! Plus, I know she will giggle at all the silly jokes.  :)

This is Dianna Sanchez's first book. What an excellent debut book!! A Witch's Kitchen releases September 25th! This would be a great Halloween read for 8-12 year olds! (And adults too! I loved it!!)

REVIEW: Cellar by Karen E. Taylor

Author: Karen E. Taylor

**I received a copy of this novel as part of a horror anthology, Modern Magic, from Falstaff Books via NetGalley in return for an honest, fair review.**

Laura Wagner notices some strange things about her new house in Woodland Heights. Phantom hands grabbing her in the cellar. Voices urging her that she would be better off dead. Weird sounds interrupting her phone calls. Disturbing nightmares about her children. A recovering alcoholic and prescription drug addict, Laura thinks the voices and strange things she sees in her house are just hallucinations brought on by getting clean during a month's stay in rehab. But soon she realizes that there is more to what's happening to her than just her body recovering from chemical and alcohol abuse.

This story, masterfully written by Karen Taylor, is incredibly creepy. It builds slowly, delving into the personal demons plaguing Laura Wagner -- her divorce, alcohol, valium, past mistakes, losing custody of her children. Her nightmares, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts seem to be part of her addiction recovery, but slowly morphs from hallucination to haunting. Culminating in a wonderfully creepy surprise ending, this novel is a must-read for supernatural horror lovers!

I was caught up in this story from chapter 1. At first I was pulled in by concern for the main character, but the creepy factor of this story snuck up behind me, catching me by surprise. The pacing was perfect. The creepy-stuff-happens-in-the-basement plot has been used before, but Taylor makes it her own, adding a new spin on an old storyline.

All in all, a great horror novel!!

Cellar is a re-issue of Taylor's earlier novel, Twelve Steps from Darkness. The author says the story is basically the same, but has been edited and expanded, adding new scenes and an epilogue.

Learn more about this book and Karen E. Taylor on her website:

REVIEW: Latte Trouble

Latte Trouble
Author: Cleo Coyle

It's Fashion Week in New York City. Clare Cosi is hosting an insider's party at Village Blend. A well-known jewelry designer, Lottie Harmon, will be a special guest. Just as Clare starts to think the event will go off without a hitch, a customer drops dead from cyanide in his latte right in the middle of the party. Once again Village Blend is at the center of a murder investigation. Instead of ruining her business, Village Blend becomes the place to be once news of the murder gets out. The barista who served the deadly latte is arrested for murder. Clare knows her employee is not guilty, despite the fact he knew the dead man intimately. The latte was actually meant for Lottie Harmon, so Clare starts to investigate who might want the jewelry designer dead. When another associate of Harmon's jewelry company is killed, it becomes imperative to find the killer before anyone else dies.

Latte Trouble is the 3rd Coffeehouse Mystery. As usual the story is infused with lots of information about coffee and how to properly brew and serve it, as well as lots of interesting info about NYC. The mystery portion of the plot was well-developed, with plenty of suspects, twists and turns and a nice, unexpected flip at the end. I haven't been disappointed by this series yet!

There are 15 books in the Coffeehouse Mystery series. The newest book, Dead to the Last Drop, just released this week! Cleo Coyle is a pseudonym for husband and wife writing team, Alice Alfonsi and Mark Cerasini.

Friday, September 9, 2016

REVIEW: Modern Magic: 12 Tales of Urban Fantasy

Modern Magic: 12 Tales of Urban Fantasy
Various Authors

**I received a copy of this book from Falstaff Books via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review**

There are times when more actually is better. When it's donuts or ex-wives -- no. But when it's tales of urban fantasy? Yes, all day long!

Modern Magic is an anthology of novel-length urban fantasy tales available in digital format for a limited time. I knew when I opened the book and started reading the first story (Cellar by Karen E.Taylor) that this book is a treasure trove of quality fantasy! Ranging from urban fantasy to paranormal romance, sci-fi and horror, this collection is amazing! And the price is right -- only $1.99!

I know I'm using a lot of exclamation points, but I'm really enjoying this book. (There. That's a period...I have gained some control over myself.) I'm a big fan of Jim Butcher, Simon Green and others who write urban fantasy series. When I saw the listing of authors for this collection, I saw several who are new to me. I'm always willing to expand my reading horizons! (There I go again....)

All of the novels included in this collection are first in a series. Many of them I had not read before. My TBR list is definitely increasing!

Here is the list of authors and novels in this collection:

Cellar - Karen E. Taylor. Originally published as Twelve Steps From Darkness, is the tale of addict Laura Wagner. Laura is battling her demons, both inner and supernatural. Taylor is also the author of the Vampire Legacy Series.

Hard Day's Knight (Black Knight Chronicles, Vol 1) - John G. Hartness.  Children are missing. The police are baffled by the serial kidnapping case. Halloween is coming, and Vampire detectives Jimmy Black and Greg Knightwood are on the case to stop an ancient evil bent on destroying the world. Harkness also writes the Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter series.

Tainted (The Blood Lily Chronicles, Book 1) by Julie Kenner. When her little sister is raped, Lily Carlyle wants revenge. She gets it, but at the cost of her own life. Then she is resurrected into the body of a waitress named Alice, and becomes an assassin in the battle of good vs evil. Kenner also writes the Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series, and the Codebreaker Trilogy.

Days Gone Bad (Vesik #1) by Eric R Asher. Damien Valdis Vesik is a necromancer. Vesik has battled evil many times, but now he's up against an ancient darkness beyond anything he has faced before. Asher also wrote the Steamborn trilogy.

The Tentacle Affaire (A Slip Traveler Novel) by Jeanne Adams. Slip Traveler Cait Brennan is on a mission to retrieve a lost octopus-like creature but ends up embroiled in an insidious alien plot. Adams is the author of several sci-fi and suspense novels.

Bill the Vampire (The Tome of Bill, Part 1) by Rick Gualtieri. Bill is a nerd. And a vampire. A master vampire has put him on 90-day probation. He has to prove his worth as a vampire, or die, permanently this time.

Touch a Dark Wolf by Jennifer St  Giles. (Shadowmen #1). Nurse Erin Morgan finds herself on the run in the Tennessee mountains after witnessing a murder. When she hits a wolf with her car, she discovers not everything is as it seems.

Southern Bound (A Max Porter Paranormal Mystery) by Stuart Jaffe. Max Porter relocates to North Carolina to start over. When he discovers his office is haunted by the spirit of a 1940's detective, he finds his new job takes him in directions he never imagined. Jaffe also writes the Malja Chronicles, an apocalyptic fantasy series.

The Soul Cages by Nicole Givens Kurtz. Sarah lives in disembodied misery in Valek's soul cages, until she escapes. Now she must go back to save the others trapped in that hell. Kurtz also writes the Cybil Lewis sci-fi series.

Nobody Gets the Girl (Whoosh! Bam! Pow! #1 A Superhero Novel) by James Maxey. Accidentally erased from time by a a super-genius, Richard Rogers becomes Nobody, the world's ultimate spy. Maxey also writes the Dragon Age and Dragon Apocalypse fantasy series.

Trifles and Folly (A Deadly Curiousities Collection) by Gail Z. Martin. A collection of short stories from the Deadly Curiosities' universe, where dangerous magical and supernatural items must be found and protected. Martin writes several sci-fi/fantasy series, including Chronicles of the Necromancer.

The Nimble Man (A Novel of the Menagerie) By Christopher Golden and Thomas E. Sniegoski. The Menagerie is a group of supernatural and other-worldly beings who must come together to battle the forces of darkness. Evil is working to resurrect the most evil of all the fallen angels. The Menagerie is the only thing standing in the way of the total annihilation of the human race. Golden and Sniegoski have both written several novels in the horror, sci-fi and fantasy genres.

So, this collection covers a wide range of fantasy from superheroes to shapeshifters, fallen angels and disembodied souls. All for $1.99!

I definitely recommend this collection to all lovers of sci-fi, urban fantasy and horror!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

REVIEW: A Killer Closet

A Killer Closet
Author: Paula Paul

**I received a copy of this upcoming book from Random House/Alibi via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review**

Irene Seligman is a successful assistant district attorney in Manhattan. She enjoys her Brooklyn apartment and city life. But then her elderly mother's sixth husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her mother destitute and exceedingly needy. Seligman is guilted into moving back to Santa Fe to help her mother. She loves the old, run-down home she grew up in, but knows they will have to have a substantial, reliable source of income to be able to afford to live. She decides to open up a used high-fashion clothing boutique because she isn't licensed to practice law in New Mexico. With the help of her mother's knowledge of high fashion, Irene prepares to open Irene's Closet: A Second Look at Haute Couture. Just two hours away from the shop's grand-opening,  Irene discovers a dead woman in the store's storage room. The woman is dressed in a $4,000 Prada outfit, but the look is not well-accessorized by the bullet hole in her head. The dead woman was one of her mother's friends, so Irene starts asking questions. Following a threatening phone call ordering her to stop her investigation, the body of another Santa Fe socialite is discovered in Irene's shop. Fearing for her mother's safety and the reputation of her new business, Irene knows she must discover the identity of the killer quickly before anyone else dies.

I had a bit of trouble getting "into'' this story because I was just shocked that a prosperous Manhattan prosecuting attorney would leave her job to go back to Santa Fe just because her 70-year old mother gave her a guilt trip. I just kept thinking that the more common sense solution would have been to help her mother financially, not drop her job and relocate back to New Mexico to live with her elderly mother.  And, at times, the main character did not behave like someone who is familiar with criminal cases, suspects and police procedure, as an assistant DA would be. At one point when she is brought in for questioning about the first body discovered in her shop, Irene keeps yelling that she wants an attorney, to the irritation of the officers driving her to the station. I don't believe an assistant DA from Manhattan would have handled the situation that abysmally. But....those two annoyances did not harm my enjoyment of the story all that much. The mystery portion of the plot was well-written and engaging. There were plenty of suspects and interesting angles to the investigation. As in most cozy mysteries, Irene goes about sleuthing without thinking about the danger she might be in, or any thought at all about whether she is hampering the official police investigation or not. At one point, she is threatened with a gun but still continues to investigate without calling the police or informing them of the situation. It's pretty formula in cozy mysteries for the main character to jump in and investigate as if they have more knowledge or expertise than the local police --- but, it is a bit more serious when guns are being drawn, right? I was able to read past that as well, as we all know that in a cozy mystery the main character is not going to be shot in the face, even if she is dancing all around the murderer urging them to do it. There were some great plot twists and interesting developments that kept the pace moving throughout this book. It kept me guessing up to the end!

So, despite some formula plot aspects, this was an enjoyable, suspenseful cozy mystery! I will definitely be reading more by Paula Paul! She is also the author of the Dr Alexandra Gladstone mystery series. There are five books in that series so far.

A Killer Closet releases October 11th from Random House/Alibi.  I highly recommend it for all cozy mystery fans, especially those who love the Santa Fe area and high fashion!

For more information on the author and her books, check out her website:

REVIEW: The Cantaloupe Thief

The Cantaloupe Thief
Author: Deb Richardson-Moore

**I received a copy of this book from Lion Hudson/Lion Fiction via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review.**

The Cantaloupe Thief is Deb Richardson-Moore's debut novel and the first in the Branigan Powers Mystery series. The book is a strong mix of murder mystery and social commentary. The fact that the homeless are often invisible and ignored by society figures strongly in the plot.

Branigan Powers is a journalist in northern Georgia. When she is assigned to investigate a 10-year old cold case murder, she finds herself partnering with a local homeless veteran. Malachi is a suspect in the murder of wealthy widow Alberta Grambling-Resnick, but also the perfect partner to help in the investigation. Powers finds that the homeless are able to move about and investigate more easily than she can, as they are often ignored and therefore, nearly invisible. Resnick was stabbed to death in her home a decade earlier after announcing that she meant to change her will. There are plenty of suspects in the cold case, but Powers finds that the original investigation was slip-shod. The police didn't think to question any of the homeless people who might have had useful information. Just as Powers starts digging and asking questions, someone starts murdering the homeless.

This was an excellent, very suspenseful book!! It is clearly evident that Richardson-Moore is writing from the heart. She is a pastor who works with the homeless. Her caring for the homeless is reflected in her well-written debut novel! The book jumps into the action immediately in the first chapter, and doesn't stop until the very last word. I didn't see the ending coming....very suspenseful, thrilling mystery! Great debut novel! I look forward to the next book in this series.

Deb Richardson-Moore has also written a non-fiction book The Weight of Mercy: A Novice Pastor on the City Streets.

REVIEW: Unlucky Charms

Unlucky Charms
Author: Linda O. Johnston

**I received a copy of this upcoming book from Midnight Ink via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review**

Superstitions, both lucky and unlucky, abound in this new cozy mystery by Linda Johnston. Unlucky Charms is the 3rd book in the Superstition Mystery series.

Rory Chasen manages the Lucky Dog Boutique in Destiny, CA. She has developed a new line of lucky dog toys -- a white rabbit with extra large lucky paws, black cats and dogs, ladybugs, woodpeckers, dalmations -- each cute, cartoony design chosen for its superstitious reputation for bringing luck. Just as she unveils her new line of lucky toys, bad luck comes to Destiny. Several businesses are vandalized and robbed, and bad luck left behind by the culprits. The shards of broken mirrors and spilled salt are barely swept up off the floor of the local businesses when a real estate agent is found murdered, with one of Rory's lucky rabbit toys alongside her body. As a suspect in the case, Rory knows she has to quickly identify the killer before all her good luck runs out.

This was a cute, fun read.  A town built around superstitions was a unique story-line for a cozy mystery, but not very realistic. But, realism isn't really a requirement in a I just read for pure enjoyment and entertainment. Rory is a likable main character. The other residents of Destiny are quirky and fun. The mystery was simple, yet engaging. The plot was a bit formula, but the unique theme saved it from becoming old-hat. All in all, an enjoyable afternoon read!

This is the first book I have read in this series. I was able to jump right in and enjoy the story. So  it isn't necessary to read this series in order.

Unlucky Charms releases October 8th, just in time for the Halloween season!

For more information on this series and author Linda Johnston, check out her website:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

REVIEW: Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd
Author: Alan Bradley

**I received a copy of this book from Random House/Delacorte Press via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review.**

Flavia de Luce. A character with a fancy name like that has got to have a vibrant, bigger-than-life personality to go with it. And 12-year old Flavia definitely lives up to her name! She is a bit of this and a bit of that....chemist, psychologist, scientist, detective, pre-teen, bicycle enthusiast and a wit all rolled up into one delightful package.

I absolutely ADORED this book!!  I read many mystery novels for review, but this book (and the entire series) is a cut above the rest. Bradley's writing is witty, and the multi-faceted plot was developed masterfully. The pace was perfect, with just enough side details to amply flesh out his characters. The tale drew me in and kept me reading to the very last word. Flavia's thoughts, opinions and powers of deduction were delightful. I couldn't help but love her. Bradley uses a lot of poetry and book and author references to spice up the prose. Children's sing-songy poetry is used throughout this story as an integral part of the plot.

I even learned a new insult. Gong farmer. Flavia and her older sister use it while fighting, as sisters will. I had to look it up. I was absolutely delighted to find out that it was a poor unfortunate soul whose job was to scrape and dig out human excrement from cesspits and privies back in the Tudor era. I will be putting it to good use in the future. :)

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd is the 8th Flavia De Luce novel. The title comes from a line uttered by one of the three witches in MacBeth as they stir their cauldron.

The basic plot: Flavia returns home from a lackluster attempt at boarding school in Canada. She expects a happy homecoming, but arrives back in England to find her father is ill and the Christmas season is subsequently depressing at Buckshaw, the family manor. She believes that her life is destined to be sad and awful until, while running an errand for the vicar's wife, she finds a dead corpse. Most people would consider that a horrible, terrible thing....but Flavia is almost overjoyed. "It's amazing what the discovery of a corpse can do for ones spirts!''  She says, as she gets to work immediately investigating the room where a reclusive wood-carver has been strung up upside-down on his bedroom door. There are many suspects, lots of sleuthing required, and many twists and turns in this witty, engaging book!

It's been a long time since I read a mystery novel that is this engaging and well-written. I highly recommend it!! It will not disappoint! It is not necessary to read the series in order. The author gives enough snippets of back-story that the characters and plot will be understood, even if you haven't read any of the other 7 books in the series.

Thrice the Brinded Cat hath Mew'd releases September 20th by Delacorte Press. Check out Alan Bradley's website at    It is rumored that the Flavia de Luce series will be coming to television in the future!! Hope so!

Monday, September 5, 2016

REVIEW: Miss Seeton Cracks the Case

Miss Seeton Cracks the Case
Author: Hamilton Crane

**I received a copy of this book from Prelude Books via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review**

The village of Plummergen has been beset by two criminal gangs. The Sherry Gang is targeting the elderly, drugging and stealing from them. The Dick Turpin Gang is waylaying tourist coaches to steal valuables from the passengers. Because Miss Seeton has used her sixth sense to help the local police before, she is called in on the case. But, this time, her magical pictures appear to have nothing to do with either of the criminal gangs. Who is waylaying tourists and drugging helpless elderly citizens of Plummergen? And can Miss Emily Seeton help the police as she has done in the past?

This is the first Miss Seeton novel I have read, and the 9th novel in the series. I did some research on the series, and discovered that several authors have written the books. The character was created by Heron Carvic who wrote the first five books. After his death in 1980, Roy Peter Martin using the pseudonym Hampton Charles wrote three Miss Seeton novels. Hamilton Crane is the pen-name of author Sarah J. Mason, who has written 14 more Miss Seeton novels. I have not read the original novels, but in my research learned that the Hamilton  Crane books make substantial character changes and are vastly different from the original Miss Seeton novels.

This edition of  Miss Seeton Cracks the Case is a re-release of the 9th Miss Seeton novel, originally published in 1991. It is the first Hamilton Crane Miss Seeton book.

This was an enjoyable read, reminiscent of Agatha Christie. I kept comparing Miss Seeton to Miss Marple as I read the book. There were quirky villagers, lots of twists and turns, and humor entertwined with the mystery -- made for a fun, entertaining read!

After reading up on the history of the Miss Seeton series, I now want to go back and read all of the books, including the original five novels that started it all!

Review: Death of an Avid Reader

Death of an Avid Reader
Author: Frances Brody

**I was provided a copy of this book by St. Martins Press via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review**

Ok....let's just get this out of the way at the very beginning....


With that out of my system....I can now write a calm, coherent review. :)

Agatha Christie has been my favorite author since I was 9 years old. I love the early 1900s setting of most of her whodunits and enjoy her characters. This book reminded me so much of Christie's writing. I devoured it in an afternoon....complete bliss!!

But it did make me wonder how I managed to miss this series.....Death of an Avid Reader is book #6 in the Kate Shackleton series. I have already added the rest of the series to my wishlist!

The basics:  Kate Shackleton is  an oddity in her time -- an independent, strong willed woman who works as a private detective, along with her friend Sykes, who is a former policeman.  Her reputation as a detective is known, and she finds herself in a secretive meeting with the venerable Lady Coulton. Apparently, Lady Coulton had a daughter out of wedlock years before. Nobody knows about the child. The baby was given to the relative of a servant so that there would be no scandal, and so Lady Coulton's husband wouldn't divorce her. Just as Kate gets to work on the case, a dead body is discovered in the Leeds Library basement. Dr. Horatio Potter is dead under a fallen bookcase. Suspicions, accusations and rumors abound as Kate and Sykes work to discover clues about the illegitimate daughter and the dead doctor. The plot took off immediately in several directions keeping me totally engrossed in the mystery and the characters!  A trained monkey, a counting horse, cheeky parrot, missing books and an accused organ grinder. Never a dull moment! Plenty of twists and turns....lots of suspicious suspects.....and a great visit to the autumn of 1925!

The mystery plot is engaging. There are a couple side plots and details that enhanced the feel of the book. It didn't distract my attention from the mystery, just fleshed out the characters better. The characterizations were well-done, not empty stereotypes. The feel of the book was pure 1920s. I got the same happy satisfaction that I get re-reading a Christie novel. :) Any fan of golden age mysteries will love this series!!

Death of an Avid Reader will be released in the US by St  Martins Press on September 13th. In the UK, the 8th Kate Shackleton mystery, Death at the Seaside, will be published on October 6th. Learn more about the author and the series on her website  

Saturday, September 3, 2016

REVIEW: Cherringham - A Lesson in Murder

Cherringham - A Lesson in Murder
Authors: Matthew Costello & Neil Richards

**I was provided with a copy of this novella by Bastei Entertainment via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review.**

Jack Brennan, a former NYPD officer, once again joins forces with English web designer Sarah Edwards to investigate a mystery. This time the duo is hired to investigate strange occurrences at an expensive girls boarding school. What started as innocent pranks is escalating into increasingly more serious vandalism at Cherringham Girls School. When dead rats are thrown into the swimming pool, Brennan and Edwards are hired to discover the identity of the perpetrator. As clues are discovered and a teacher dies, they discover the real issue is much more serious.

A Lesson in Murder is the 13th installment in the serialized Cherringham Cozy Crime Series. A new story is released in ebook format each month. The stories are available in both German and English. It is not necessary to read the stories in order. This is the first Cherringham story I've read and I was able to jump right in without any problem. There is a short bio of both main characters just before the story begins.

At 103 pages, this novella is a quick read. The plot is fast-paced, engaging, and well-written. I liked the rapport between the two main characters. The pace and feel of the story was reminiscent of television detective shows like Murder She Wrote and Midsomer Murders. There are currently 24 Cherringham stories available.

I definitely want to read more of this serialized mystery series! It was the perfect length for a quick bed-time read!

Matthew Costello and Neil Richards have also collaborated on many scripts for television, radio and computer games.

REVIEW: Pumpkins in Paradise

Pumpkins in Paradise
Author: Kathi Daley

**I received a copy of this book from Henery Press via NetGalley in exhange for a fair, honest review**

High school teacher TJ Jenson is busy. Between volunteering for Serenity, Nevada's annual pumpkin festival, teaching, coaching soccer, and raising her two half-sisters, her schedule is pretty full most of the time. But she always has time for her friend, an elderly recluse named Zachary. The two met on Halloween night years before when she tried to pull a childish prank on him and got caught. After years of friendship, she really doesn't know a lot about Zachary's past. She knows two things for sure: the scars on his face are from a car accident that killed a friend of his; and, it's been years since he ventured outside his house. TJ is shocked when she goes to visit Zachary one night before Halloween, only to find him dead. Even though initial clues point to suicide, TJ knows her friend was murdered. Often he would leave her puzzle clues to locate presents he bought for her. This time, he's left her clues that will lead to his killer.

This book was an enjoyable read! The mystery was engaging and interesting. It kept my attention from beginning to end. There were several suspects, plot twists and turns, and an exciting ending! I had my suspicions but wasn't sure who the culprit was until the very end. TJ is a likable and believable main character. The side characters are varied and not just formula stereotypes. The story was complex and well-written. Kathi Daley never fails to deliver a great cozy mystery!

Pumpkins in Paradise is the first book in the TJ Jenson Paradise Lake Mystery series. There are 6 books in the series, with an 7th book, Treasure in Paradise, coming in April 2017. Henery Press is re-releasing the complete series September 6th in anticipation of the new book!  I will definitely be reading the rest of this series!

Kathi Daley also writes the Zoe Donovan Mysteries and Whales and Tails Mystery series. Check out her website at

REVIEW: The Question of the Felonious Friend

The Question of the Felonious Friend
Author: EJ Copperman, Jeff Cohen

**I received a copy of this book from Midnight Ink via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review.**

Living with Asperger's, Samuel Hoenig realizes his social skills are sometimes a bit off, but he puts his research talents to work by opening his own business, Questions Answered. For a fee, he will research any interesting questions put to him by clients. Sometimes, these questions lead him into investigating crimes. With his mother and associate, Mrs Washburn, at his side to help him, once he accepts a client's question, Samuel is on the case until he has the correct answer.

In this 3rd book in the An Asperger's Mystery series, Samuel accepts a question from a client who also falls within the Autism spectrum. Tyler Clayton wants to know if a convenience store clerk that he sees daily and who has been to his house to play video games is really his friend. Samuel investigates and answers the question. Clayton's reaction to the answer is not pleasant. Samuel is shocked when soon after the police inform him that the store clerk is dead, shot to death in the convenience store. Standing above the body with a gun in his hand was Tyler Clayton.

Because his answer to Clayton's question may be the reason the store clerk is dead, Samuel begrudgingly accepts another question from Tyler Clayton's brother -- Who killed the store clerk?? He doesn't believe Tyler pulled the trigger, but he will doggedly follow the clues no matter who is pinpointed as the murderer in the end.

I loved this book! Sometimes mystery novels, especially cozies, fall into a formula. A + B = C....just with a bit of variation in pets, cute jobs, and campy side characters and the addition of recipes, themed tips or other extras added at the end of the book.  This series breaks loose from that mold...focusing on a main character who lives with what most people would term a "disability'' that makes him stand out as different or odd. Samuel uses his unique personality and its positive points to run a research business for clients wanting answers to questions. With his support structure in place to prevent him making inadvertent social faux pas or to help him understand certain nuances of others behavior, Samuel follows each question to its undeniable, correct answer. Even when it requires him to investigate crimes.

The mystery is interesting and engaging, but my enjoyment of the story was more character-based. Having known several people with Asperger's, this book gave me some insight into their behavior that I didn't know before. It was so interesting to read Samuel's point-of-view about others behavior, about others with Asperger's and his thoughts on daily life. I also enjoyed his relationships with his mother and his friend, Mrs. Washburn. They aided him in his investigations....they did not attempt to "fix'' or direct him to change his personality, rather offered advise and opinions from a non-Asperger's viewpoint, and let him form his own conclusions. Available by text message when Samuel finds himself in difficulty, his mother lends her support without pressuring him or over-reacting. Their interactions were perfectly written and made the story more believable and engaging.

The mystery had several suspects, twists and perfect pace. I was engrossed in the story from beginning to end! At first, I really didn't know what to expect....a mystery novel with a main character who has Asperger's...I just wasn't sure if I would like it or not. I was pleasantly surprised!! Great book! Well-written plot and characterization! Samuel and his quirky habits are written in an honest, but endearing way. Asperger's and its effects on behavior are handled in a respectful, truthful manner. Samuel is who he is, and he uses his skills and talents to the best of his abilities.

I highly recommend this book to any reader who wants to step away from "formula'' mysteries and try something different, especially if they know anyone within the autism-spectrum.

EJ Copperman and Jeff Cohen are both pseudonyms for mystery novelist Jeffrey Cohen. This is the 3rd Asperger's Mystery. As Copperman, Cohen writes the Haunted Guesthouse mysteries (one of my favorite cozy series!). As Cohen, he writes the Aaron Tucker and Double Feature mystery series. I can honestly say this is my first experience with an author who collaborates with himself to write a mystery series. I applaud Cohen for his quirkiness that comes across in his novels! I am never disappointed -- fabulous books and very memorable author, no matter which pen-name or personality he is using at the time. :) Love it!  Check out his author websites: and,