Friday, August 31, 2018

REVIEW: Stay Hidden

Stay Hidden
Author: Paul Doiron

I enjoy suspense and thriller novels that deal with murder or crime investigations. I especially enjoy them if they throw something unusual, new or creative into the mix. My newest obsession is crime thrillers with main characters in park ranger or wildlife officer positions. It's breathing a bit of new life into the genre for me, as straight cop/bad guy stories can get old hat after awhile.

Stay Hidden is the 9th book in the Mike Bowditch series. This is the first book in this series I've read...and I'm glad I did! The main character is a Game Warden in Maine. Fatal hunting accidents aren't that unusual. People get mistaken for deer or other animals all the time. Mike Bowditch even remembers a case of a lady getting shot because a hunter mistook her white gloves for the white tail of a running deer. But this time.....the shooting death of a controversial author.....the death is a bit more than just a hunting accident. The case soon turns into something much more serious....and dangerous.

I loved this book! The story had so many surprises and twists that the suspense was constant. I love the location and the fact that the main investigator is a wildlife officer.

I was able to follow the story just fine even though I haven't read the previous 8 books in this series. But, I could tell that there has been a lot of character and background plot development since the start of the series. Because I enjoyed this book so much, I'm going to backtrack and read the rest of this series. Then portions of this story and the main characters will make more sense. It isn't necessary to have read the other books to enjoy this one, however.

Great book! Lots of action and a wonderfully complex and suspenseful plot! I will definitely read more by this author!

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from St. Martins Press via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**


REVIEW: The Death of Mrs. Westaway

The Death of Mrs. Westaway
Author: Ruth Ware

Harriet Westaway reads tarot cards on the pier during the day and goes home to her small apartment at night. She misses her mother who died in a hit-and-run accident just outside the apartment. Her mother taught her how to do readings for people and imparted the wisdom to never believe her own lies. Then a letter arrives...a strange letter from an attorney summoning her to a funeral for a wealthy grandmother. Harriet knows there has been some terrible mistake, but she's desperate. If there is any money to glean from the situation, she needs it.  If she had known the situation she was walking into, Harriet might never have stepped foot in Trepassen House. Family secrets can be dangerous....

I listened to the audio book version of this novel. Loved it! Imogen Church narrates. Her voice and acting fit the story and the main character, Harriet, perfectly. I enjoyed this story! The suspenseful plot kept me listening, totally engaged in the story until the very end. I had no idea exactly what was going on until the last 30 minutes of the book. Brilliantly done! Harriet is such a strong female character. She has lived a difficult life but still has hope. When she meets the Westaway family, she becomes determined to discover her own history...the truth about herself that she was never told.

The audio book I listened to was just over 14 hours long. I have partial hearing loss but was easily able to hear and understand Imogen Church's reading. She reads at a nice pace and really brings the story to life.

Very chilling story of hidden secrets and agonizing discovery! This is the second book by Ruth Ware that I have read. I'm definitely going to read more of her books...chills me to the bone each time!


Thursday, August 30, 2018

REVIEW: Kill The Farm Boy

Kill The Farm Boy
Authors: Kevin Hearne and Delilah Dawson

When I heard about this book, I immediately had to read it. I love Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid series. The first book of his new Seven Kennings fantasy series, A Plague of Giants, was an awesome read as well. I like the humor in the Iron Druid series and hoped Kill the Farm Boy would have more of the same. The book blurb invoked Princess Bride, promising humor along the lines of that classic plus Terry Pratchett's Discworld. I jumped right on it....had to read it.

When I read an advanced readers copy, I promise to give an honest review.  And I'm going to do just that.

I enjoy Kevin Hearne's books. I've read them all. Look forward to more.

But I didn't like Kill the Farm Boy.

I expected wit, a dash of sarcasm, and irreverent references like Discworld....plus the tongue-in-cheek fairy tale quality of Princess Bride. Afterall, the book blurb did compare this new book to both of those.

But....Kill the Farm Boy is instead filled with lowbrow dick jokes, constant quips about masturbation, farting, poo, boogers.....it's like being dropped into room full of middle schoolers who don't have to watch their language.  I found the humor as forced as an Adam Sandler movie. Nothing like Terry Pratchett or William Goldman's Princess Bride.

I read about 75% of the book.....and DNF'd it as unreadable.

Now....this is entirely my opinion. Others might read it and absolutely love it. I did not. I expected more from this book....and it disappointed me. I found the humor forced and juvenile. Not my cup of tea. For me, the plot was also tired and recycled.

This series is just not for me. Moving on.  I still love, love, love Kevin Hearne. And I will still be right at the front of the line the next time he has a book come out. I'm not familiar with his co-author on this book -- Delilah Dawson -- but I know she writes humorous, dark fantasy for adults and teens that have received good ratings from reviewers. Like I said....this series is just not for me. I hope others love it, and that they co-author more books to make those readers happy. I, however, am moving on. Not every book is for every person.

**I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from Random House/Ballentine via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

REVIEW: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
Author: Mary Ann Shaffer & Anne Barrows

I have to admit I had never heard of this book before I saw a trailer for the movie version on Netflix. It sounded like something I would enjoy watching, but I had to follow my rule -- always read the book first. Luckily my local library had a copy. This book is amazing! I started reading and couldn't put it down....total binge read.

The book is epistolary. I'm not usually a big fan of that format, but for this story it worked perfectly. I loved all of the characters and the letter format blended right in with the plot. The basics: In 1946, Britain is just starting to recover from the war. Juliet Ashton wrote a humorous columns and books during the war under a male pseudonym. It made her famous and financially independent. But, now she wants more. She's trying to recover from the war as well....and wants to find a project that makes her happy. She receives a letter from a farmer in Guernsey who happens to have one of her old books....her name and address is written inside. They begin to correspond....and she finds her project....writing about the occupation of Guernsey by the Germans and how the locals coped.

This is a beautiful and heart-wrenching story. Loved it! Immediately after reading the book, I watched the Netflix movie. They made some changes that I didn't think were necessary and left out some of the more traumatic occupation stories from the book, but it was an enjoyable movie. Once again I am glad I held out and watched only after reading the book. The book is SO much better than the film....just because they took things out here and there, changed how some characters met, etc. I prefer it how the authors wrote it. And why water down the war stories? I think all the scenes should have been included...even the ones where the German troops were cut off from supplies and eating anything they could find (even stray cats) to keep from starving along with the villagers.

Lovely book! I'm definitely ordering a copy of it for my keeper shelf. It's one I would like to re-read. 

-- I really don't like book covers that have huge circles on them with MOVIE COMING SOON in bright colors. Do they really need to mar the cover art with an ad?? Just a personal opinion --

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

REVIEW: Five On A Treasure Island

Five On A Treasure Island
Author: Enid Blyton

After finishing a rather emotionally taxing suspense novel, I needed a palate cleanser. Usually I turn to children's literature after reading harsh adult fiction. My brain needed something happy and sweet. Recently, I heard about the Famous Five series, a popular series of British books about the adventures of 4 kids and their dog. It sounded like just the thing....so I found a copy of the first book on Open Library. So glad I did! What a delightful and fun book!

The basics....Julian, Dick and Anne are disappointed when they can't go to their favorite place for a holiday. But the trio become excited when they learn they are going to stay with their aunt and uncle, plus their cousin Georgina (who demands to be called George). The kids happily travel to Kirrin Bay to meet their cousin for the first time and spend the summer having adventures....including searching for lost gold!

I loved this story! George is my favorite character. She doesn't want to be a girl and play with dolls. She wants to have short hair, wear comfortable boys clothes and romp outside having adventures with her dog. Both sets of parents seemed almost totally unlikable for me though. George's father is domineering ass and her mother seems weak willed. I guess you'd have to be to live with an ass. Julian, Dick and Anne's parents seem to not be very concerned with their kids. The 3 kids attend boarding school most of the year. Then when they do come home for summer break, their parents decide to go to Scotland without them and dump the kids at their uncle's house to spend the summer with a cousin they've never even met. The kids don't seem to mind....they want holiday adventures on their own. Their parents seem totally flighty though. Uninvolved. Better than being a helicopter parent, I guess. Luckily, despite a bit of danger, the kids had a great time and ended the summer all in one piece.

There are 21 books in the Famous Five series. The series was written from 1942-1963. I really enjoyed this first book. I'm going to read more of the series. It was a nice palate cleanser....a quick, enjoyable read about kids having fun, adventure, and some mystery for the summer!

Monday, August 27, 2018

REVIEW: The DaVinci Code

The DaVinci Code
Author: Dan Brown

I read this novel when it first came out in 2003. I remember being mesmerized and totally into the thrilling story of a Harvard professor on the trail of the Holy Grail. Crazy cults, ancient history, religious symbolism, brutal murders.....it had all the elements of a great thriller. Then I poured over books and articles on the history of Christianity, the Knights Templar, the grail legend...just to see if the author's claims about it being based on truth were indeed true. In the end, it's very difficult, and mostly impossible, to glean provable truth from ancient history or religious writings.

Because this book is included in the list of 100 books for The Great American Read, I decided to listen to the audio book version. I'm trying to read my way through the entire list...and since it had been 15 years since I read this one, it was time for a re-read. Because I already knew the story line from the book and watching the movie, I didn't enjoy this book so much the second time around. In the years since it was published, I have really gotten over any fascination with religious symbolism or ideology. It made it difficult for me to get into the story this time. I ended up fast-forwarding past a few hours of this 18+ hour audio book. I listened to a bit more than half of it. There is no mystery in a thriller when you know the ending already.

All in all, some nice suspense and a great story. The puzzles the main characters have to solve and the treachery they face is thrilling and interesting. I doubt the author's claims that the story line is based on facts....but it isn't possible to prove or disprove any of it. Makes it pretty much a moot point. The novel in its entirety just has too much religion and Catholic Church references for me. As a former Catholic who now avoids organized religion like the plague....I'm just no longer interested. So, this really isn't the book for me anymore.

But....that is only my opinion. The book is well written and quite suspenseful. I totally understand why this book is included in The Great American Read. It got millions of people reading and talking about the book -- both positive and negative. I remember being one of the millions who read this book and then read non-fiction information to see if any of the story was actually true (and watched many of the television documentaries about the subject). So, despite the fact I pretty much DNF'd it (fast forwarding past more than half of a book is really not finishing the novel), I totally agree with its inclusion on the list. And, I'm even glad that I sort of half-assed a re-read of it. It shows that I have changed as a person over the last 15 years and my interests have gone down other paths. I still love a good thriller.....but not books so full of religious symbolism and details. Just not for me.

This is the 15th book on the list for The Great American Read that I have read/re-read. 85 to go! The list can be found here: http://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/books/#/   I printed out a checklist and I'm ticking off the boxes as I read! Sponsored by PBS, The Great American Read kicked off in May 2018 with a launch special. Starting September 11th, 2018 there will be a six part series featuring each book on the list. Readers can vote on which listed book should be #1. The winner will be announced in the last episode of the show. :) Great idea! I love celebrating books -- all types of books -- that got the public reading and talking about books!! The lists includes classics, fan fiction, erotica, young adult, children's books.....all types of fiction! I am enjoying reading my way through the list! Not all of the books will be to my tastes....but it's good to jump out of one's personal comfort zone sometimes. :)


Sunday, August 26, 2018

REVIEW: Flip Wilson Close-up

Flip Wilson Close Up
Author: James A. Hudson

When I was young in the 1970s, there were several popular variety shows on television. My favorite was the Flip Wilson Show. The comedian was likable, incredibly funny and innovative. Decades later I still remember his antics and jokes fondly, especially his character Geraldine who had sass and loved Ray Charles. I even had an LP vinyl album that had some of his best routines on it. His version of the adventures of Christopher Columbus was one of my favorites.


I love reading biographies of entertainers I enjoy, so I read this Scholastic book about Flip Wilson's life and the progression of his career. The book, published in 1971, is certainly dated as it was published at the height of Wilson's career. And at 80-pages long, it's obviously light reading meant for younger readers. But, I loved it! I never knew that Flip came from a family of 18 children and grew up in poverty. He started his career as an entertainer while in the Air Force. And with a lot of hard work and determination -- plus his incredible talent -- he made it big.

I'd like to read a biography that goes more in depth about the man and his life. He was a very private person. In this book it mentions that Flip was writing a book on comedy and being a comedian. I looked online for the title and information on a book....but it doesn't appear that Flip Wilson ever published his manuscript. In the 1980s, he stepped away from the entertainment industry to spend more time with his family and just kind of faded away from the limelight. He wanted it that way. Sounds like a lovely man. I'm definitely going to read more about his life and career. I loved his comedy and I'm thankful for all the laughs he gave me as a child, and even now as an adult.

I found a copy of this long out of print book on Open Library. Very enjoyable read!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

REVIEW: The Magician's Nephew

The Magician's Nephew
Author: C.S. Lewis

For Christmas when I was 9 years old, my parents gave me a box set of The Chronicles of Narnia. I read and re-read those books until they literally fell apart. I loved the magical story of Narnia, Aslan, the Pevensies, the White Witch, Mr. Tumnus, Eustace, Prince Caspian, Reepicheep, and all the other lovely characters in the series. I re-read this series every few years because the stories are still incredibly enjoyable for me. Religious allegory and symbolism never enter my head as I read this series.....I enjoy it as delightful children's fantasy and leave the author's religious views out of it. The books do impart important lessons on friendship, loyalty, cowardice and bravery, respect, forgiveness, and love. Just a lovely book series for children and adults alike!

The Chronicles of Narnia is included in the list of 100 books and series for The Great American Read. So, as part of GAR, I'm re-reading this series. I started with The Magician's Nephew because even though this book was published as the fifth book of the series, it is a prequel to the other books explaining how Narnia was created.

I listened to an audio book version of this novel. At just under 4 hours long, it was an easy afternoon listen as I did housework and worked in my garden. Kenneth Branagh narrated. He read at a nice even pace. Despite my hearing loss, I could easily hear and understand the entire book. It was great to re-visit an old favorite! I'm currently on my library's waiting list for the next audio book: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I'm happy to be #16 waiting on 4 copies. The wait means that others are reading this lovely series, and that makes me happy! I have the "real'' book on my keeper shelf, of course. But I'm going to continue listening to audio book versions until I've listened to the whole series. Up til now I have read the books, watched video versions....but never an audio presentation. Loving it so far!

I totally support The Chronicles of Narnia being included in The Great American Read. I know as a young child the books gave me hours and hours of happiness....not to mention the British television series and the newer movies. Since the 1950s when the books were first published, this series has given so much joy and wonder to so many readers. It's just outstanding!

If I had to pick a favorite book from the series, I would have to go with The Horse and His Boy (Book 5). Favorite character -- easy choice for me -- Reepicheep, the very brave mouse!

The Magician's Nephew is the 16th book/series I have read or re-read for The Great American Read. Before all is said and done, I will have re-read all 7 books in the series. While I wait for The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe to come available at the library, I will move on and read other books from the list. I can't wait until the television series starts airing on PBS on September 11, 2018!!

Friday, August 24, 2018

REVIEW: The Siren And The Specter

The Siren and the Specter
Author: Jonathan Janz

David Caine is a well known author who debunks legendary haunted houses. After publishing nine books on the subject, he isn't too concerned about the 10th project, The Alexander House. At the request of an old college friend who owns the house, David agrees to live in it for a month. Area residents and his friend's wife think the property is really haunted, but David knows that isn't possible. He firmly believes that supernatural things do not exist. Or does he? He isn't inside the house for a single day before he starts seeing and hearing things. And it will get much, much worse before it's over.

This book gave me the heebie jeebies! Very creepy! I love haunted house stories, so I added to the suspense by reading this book while sitting on my front porch at night. Pitch dark except the light from my Ipad. Took me 3 evening reading sessions to finish....and I loved every minute of it!

Just a warning.....there are some graphic depictions of sex and some adult situations in this book. It's not for kids or teens under 16 or so. Some of the characters are despicable and completely unlikable...be prepared. For readers who like horror novels with a bit of grit and violence....this one's for you. Totally creepy....and a bit demented. Great read!

I would not spend a single night in The Alexander House. Not a single night. Nope. No way. Not only no....hell no.

Great story!

I will definitely be reading more by this author! :)

**I voluntarily read an advance readers copy of this book from Flame Tree Press via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**


Thursday, August 23, 2018

REVIEW: When The Flood Falls

When the Flood Falls
Author: J.E. Barnard

Lacey McCrae is running from the tatters of her life. Her career with the RCMP is over. Her divorce is pending. She needs a change. So, she moves back to Bragg Creek, west of Calgary, to start over. Taking a temporary job with the crew installing security systems and the vault for the new Foothills History Museum and staying with her friend, Dee, she tries to pull herself together. Dee feels she is being stalked, but nobody ever sees the stalker. When it escalates into a hit-and-run attempt on Dee's life with a disappearance and murder tacked on for good measure, Lacey realizes the situation is more than just a simple case of stalking. She teams up with Dee and a neighbor to investigate the growing danger.

I enjoyed this book. The setting is great, and I liked Lacey as a main character. She is flawed, but determined to rein in her chaotic life. With a river threatening to flood the entire region, a killer and all sorts of issues surrounding her at all turns, she has to rise to the occasion -- and she does. At times the plot moved a bit too slowly, but the suspense was enough to keep me reading. I wasn't sure who was behind everything until the very end. There were definitely enough suspects, red herrings and twists to keep the truth a secret til the last minute. I liked how Lacey, Dee and Jan all have different issues, weaknesses and prejudices, but were able to work through differences and help each other.

I will definitely read more by this author. Very enjoyable debut!

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Dundurn via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

REVIEW: The Other Woman

The Other Woman
Author: Sandie Jones

Emily loves Adam. But his mother is difficult. Pammie comments on Emily's weight...causes problems whenever she can....and is just a complete pain in the butt. Obviously the woman wants them to break up. When Emily and Adam get engaged and their wedding approaches, the problems with Pammie only increase and even take on a sinister feel. Emily wants Adam....but what about Pammie? What is she going to do next?

Oh. My God. This book made me mad, sad and even scared. Some real creepy feels. I was totally into this story from the first snarky Pammie comment to the twist at the very end. From an emotional standpoint, I had a hard time reading this book without getting mad....Pammie really pulls some klunkers. I wanted to hop into the book and tell that woman what I thought about her and tell Emily to stand up for herself. So hard to be just the reader joining in on the story as only an observer.  My one problem with this story is that Emily NEVER stands up for herself...she never really questions the situation enough to realize she should be exiting the relationship. She just has small temper tantrums and spits of anger....but then apologizes to Adam instead of standing her ground. Oh my....how weak willed and doormatish can you be? BUT, this is a suspense novel....and if Emily had stood up for herself, told Adam to go F himself and walked away to another relationship, it would have been a very short story. She had to be a bit weak for the storyline to work. And I've known women who put up with similar situations...so it isn't far from realism. It just heightened the suspense for me as I wanted to tell Emily she was an idiot for most of the book and I was waiting for Pammie to go absolutely mental. Great story. Emotionally exhausting, but great.

This is Sandie Jones' debut novel. I will definitely be reading more by this author! Her next book, Before Your Lies, will be published in June 2019.

I loved the pre-publication publicity for this book with the #WatchOutForPammie and other hashtags. I thought I was totally on Emily's side for the first part of this book.....but after finishing the entire thing....Emily is just too wishywashy for me. I think I will go with a side character and be #TeamSeb all the way! Best character in the book IMHO. Go Seb! Bestie stood by his friend Em to the end! :)

**I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from St. Martins Press via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. No future mother in laws were harmed during the reading of this book.**

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

REVIEW: Rattus New Yorkus

Rattus New Yorkus
Author: Hunter Shea

I am a sucker for monster tales. Big or small, creature rampages are always a hit with me! Hunter Shea has entertained me with man eating lizards in Florida, the Jersey Devil, swamp creatures, Loch Ness.....lots of monster goodness. This time....it's very angry, swarming rats attacking New York.

Rats are definitely in my top 5 of things I don't like. Not just because they helped spread the fleas that killed millions during the various outbreaks of plague several hundred years ago, but because they are still spreading disease, biting people and popping out from unexpected places even today. I have not had the joy (note sarcasm) to meet a New York rat up close, but I have heard stories. Where I live in NC most rats invade derelict or abandoned homes and then wreck havoc on others who own surrounding properties. Yuck! The thought of millions of rats....angry....clawing, biting...CHASING people....    EEEEEKKKKK!

The basics: A well meaning scientist creates a new bait for rats which is supposed to sterilize them, preventing them from breeding and increasing the rat population. He gets an exterminator to test the new product on several locations in New York so they can track its effect on the rat population. Unfortunately, the chemical just makes the rats super aggressive, violent and seemingly even more intelligent than normal. New Yorkers are resilient, but what will they do when faced with millions of Super Rats?

I enjoyed this story! Very creepy and just an entertaining fun read. At 112 pages Rattus New Yorkus is an afternoon's entertaining creepy read. I sat on my porch with a big glass of iced tea and let myself just enjoy being creeped out by a story about rats. Lots of Rats. Angry rats. Rats that want to eat people. All the people.  That night I kept waking up thinking I heard skittering and squeaking. It was my foster kitten, not a rat....but it did prove that Hunter Shea managed to creep me out once again!

For those who love cheesy monster stories, this book is perfect! And I'm definitely up for the next Hunter Shea book! :) I wonder what he will scare me with next time? :)

**I voluntarily read an advance readers copy of this book from Kensington via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. No rats were harmed during the writing of this review.**

Monday, August 20, 2018

REVIEW: The Lost For Words Bookshop

The Lost For Words Bookshop
Author: Stephanie Butland

Loveday Cardew's best friends are books. She tattoos the first lines of her favorite books on her body like a collection of fond memories she wants to keep close forever. She hides a secret about her past and never lets people past her defenses. Books don't judge. Books don't pity. She works in a bookshop, surrounded by the peace and feeling of safety the books give her. But, someone has found out about her past. And Loveday Cardew's quiet little world is about to tumble into chaos.

I loved this book! As the story progressed and I learned more and more about Loveday....her past, her thoughts, her secret....I found myself sympathizing more and more with her. Sometimes the past keeps a tight grip on a person that takes years to loosen. I know this experience personally from my disastrous relationships with my birth family. For Loveday, she hides from her hurts and emotions and only loves books...until she lets her defenses down just a bit. And the world comes crashing in. So realistic. I also love the idea of getting tattoos of first lines of favorite books, or those with personal meaning,

I listened to the audio book version of this novel.  Narrated by Imogen Church, the audio is just under 9 hours long. Church's voice is perfect for this book, and I loved the audio. Even with my hearing loss, I was easily able to hear and understand the entire book.

This was a binge listen for me.....I couldn't stop once I got immersed in the story. This book is sad, hopeful, and beautiful. Despite how we remember our lives Before, there is always a life After.

I absolutely loved this book and will be reading more by this author. I usually steer away from emotional fiction, but this story is beautiful. I have to admit that this book sat on my To-Read shelf for awhile before I worked up the courage to read it. I knew it would poke at the hurts still present from my own past...and I had to work up the courage to go there. I'm so glad I did.....totally rewarding experience. Full stars from me!

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

REVIEW: Trixie Belden and the Mystery on Cobbett's Island

Trixie Belden and the Mystery on Cobbett's Island
Author: Kathryn Kenny

I loved the Trixie Belden series as a young teenager. The tales of her sleuthing with help from her brothers and friends were my favorites for years. The final books in the series published in the early 1980s were the first books I ever pre-ordered. I babysat my spoiled nephew to earn the cash to buy those books. At one time I had the entire set. All matching. Before I went to college, I sold the whole set to a 12-year old. I hope she loved them as much as I did! This year I decided to revisit the Bob-Whites of the Glen and Sleepyside, NY out of nostalgia. I have been working my way through this series a little bit at a time and enjoying every minute! Some of the books were re-released in new editions, but most are long out of print. Luckily, it is easy to find used copies cheaply.

The Mystery on Cobbett's Island is the 13th book in the series. There are 39 books in total. I enjoyed this sailing and treasure hunt themed story. The kids go on vacation to Cobbett's Island. Trixie finds an old letter hidden in a book, sending the kids on a treasure hunt for hidden money. The story is entertaining and the mystery is light, but interesting. Totally age appropriate for middle grade kids. The series is definitely dated, but still fun to read.

I love the book lists in the back of these old paperbacks...in the back of the old copy of Mystery at Cobbett's Island that I have it lists "The Meg Mysteries'' as a recommended series. I did a little bit of research....the Meg Mysteries is a series with a middle grade age amateur sleuth written in the late 60s. Sounds like a good series to try when I'm done re-visiting Trixie!

The first six books of the Trixie Belden series were written by Julie Campbell. The rest of the series was published under the pen-name Kathryn Kenny. The books were written by various authors all using this same pseudonym. It's very similar to how the Nancy Drew books were published. I wish I knew the names of the actual writers who penned the various books.....   I never knew that Kathryn Kenny wasn't a real person until I was an adult. I hope all the writers who anonymously penned these great books for kids realized how much enjoyment they brought to all of us who read their work!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

REVIEW: The Creature

Creature
Author; Hunter Shea

Kate Woodson suffers with autoimmune disease. Her health problems are slowly killing her. As an escape from her mounting physical problems and the subsequent damage to their relationship, her husband Andrew rents a cottage in Maine for the summer and takes a 3 month leave of absence from his job. They both need a break from their day-to-day lives. But, in the woods surrounding the seemingly idyllic cabin lurks something so horrible, something so monstrous it might just destroy them both. The Creature....it lurks, it waits, it knows them.....

I love Hunter Shea's books. I love horror stories with monsters and Hunter Shea always delivers! He has creeped me out with everything from legendary beasties like the Jersey Devil to urban rats. This book hits close to home for me as I deal with physical and health issues on a daily basis. I identified with Kate Woodson and her husband. Physical pain and limitations have a direct and sometimes destructive effect on daily life and relationships. I wanted them to enjoy their summer in the backwoods of Maine.....and the downward spiral their attempt to escape took was horrifying in itself. I let myself get pulled totally into this story, reading it on my front porch in a comfy chair.....at night....in the dark....all alone....dark woods right across the street.....     Even the cup of hot, sweet, caramel flavored coffee sitting next to me wasn't enough to keep me from getting very much creeped out as the Woodsons started hearing leaf-crunching, branch breaking, heavy footsteps circling their cabin.....then rocks being thrown on the roof.....and a snuffling, roaring beastie standing just outside the door. The realization that the monster could bust through the glass patio doors at any time terrified not only the Woodsons, but me too. Perfect! I was immersed in this story from start to finish. I love how the plot relates to Hunter Shea's real life. I think that is why the story seems so real and grabbed my interest so thoroughly. Loved it!

Hunter Shea is the author of several other horror novels including The Montauk Monster and Jurassic Florida. Any lover of creature features or monster tales will love his books! This book gets full stars from me because of the personal connect I had with the characters and the totally creepy experience! Can't wait for his next book!

**I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from Flame Tree Press via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. No monsters were harmed in the writing of this review, although I did suffer quite a scare when my cat hopped on my lap while I was reading it in the dark. No permanent injuries to either of us. Luckily.**

Saturday, August 18, 2018

REVIEW: The Outsider

The Outsider
Author: Stephen King

Stephen King is pretty much hit or miss for me. Some of his books I absolutely love. And others (like Dreamcatcher, for example) I had to DNF....unreadable, in my opinion. His last couple of books have been enjoyable for me....so I put myself on the library wait list for The Outsider and waited weeks for it to be my turn for the audio book. This book was well worth the wait. I was not disappointed. The story is suspenseful, creepy and classically King-esque.

An 11-year old boy is murdered in a completely horrific and terrifying way. The police have a suspect, a local youth baseball coach. Terry Maitland has never done anything illegal or broken any laws, but his fingerprints and DNA point to him as the killer. Local authorities believe they have an open and shut case. But.....at the time the boy was killed, Terry Maitland was hours away at a conference for teachers. Witnesses saw him at both places...at the same time. How can a man be in two places at once?

This story is warped and disturbing yet mesmerizing, as only Stephen King can spin a tale. What starts out as an investigation into a brutal murder morphs into something much more dark and evil. Once I started the audio book, I listened while driving, while gardening, while cleaning.....I couldn't stop listening! I breezed through 18+ hours of this story in just 3 days. I was hooked on the story. It's been awhile since a King novel completely sucked me in.....loved it!

Narrated by Will Patton, the audio book is almost 19 hours long. Patton reads at a nice speed and manages different voices, the required King-esque creepiness and the acting required with great skill. I'm sure it's not easy to bring something as demented, strange and awesome as a King novel to life...but Patton did a great job! I really enjoyed the performance! I have hearing loss, but was easily able to hear and understand the entire book.

Warning: This book contains some graphic descriptions of child murder and rape. If that's something you can't handle, it might be best to pass on this one.  For King fans -- this story is classic.

Friday, August 17, 2018

REVIEW: S'more Murders

S'More Murders
Author: Maya Corrigan

Val Deniston usually caters meals from a set list of menu choices. But when a wealthy man offers her a lot of money to recreate a 10-course meal served to first class passengers on the Titanic, she agrees. Bills gotta get paid...and the money is too good to refuse. At first the dinner aboard his yacht, the Abyss, is enjoyable for the eight people seated at the table. It quickly takes a bad turn when the captain is knocked unconscious and the host disappears off the boat. Was it an accident....or murder?

This is the first book in the 5-ingredient Mystery Series that I have read. S'More Murders is the 5th book in the series. I was easily able to follow the story and the characters without reading any of the prior books. There is some character development and background that I was lacking, of course, but I still enjoyed the story. I will definitely be backtracking to read this series from the start.

The mystery kept my attention. I liked the recreation of the Titanic dinner with a murder mystery game element added. There were plenty of suspects and sleuthing, and having the murder victim disappear off a ship at sea was a creative, interesting way to bump him off. Val and her grandpa are great characters, and I even liked all of the side characters. The fact that Val is helping her grandpa write a cookbook about old codger's favorite recipes made me smile. Cute! Plus, there are several yummy sounding recipes based on the Titanic cuisine in the back of the book! I love it when cozies include recipes that aren't all sugary desserts or cookies! An example of a first class dinner menu from the Titanic is included as well. I found it an interesting fact that none of the actual recipes for foods cooked on the Titanic still exist. Val had to wing it and create her own in the story. I'm surprised the White Star Line doesn't have a record of food preparation or recipes on its liners from that time....but I suppose the Chef also winged it and created his own versions of the foods. After finishing the book I did a little online research. Head Chef  Charles Proctor and most of his staff did not survive the sinking. The ship's Head Baker, Charles Joughin, did survive, floating in the water in a lifebelt until rescue arrived. So, no wonder there are no authentic recipes for the foods served to first class on that fateful voyage. There are several restaurants around the world offering a recreation of the last meal served to passengers -- one even offers a 1907 vintage wine that was actually salvaged from the wreck (I find this morally wrong....but they didn't ask my opinion) for nearly $2,000 per person.

Enjoyable cozy! I will definitely be reading the rest of this series...and more by this author!

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Kensington via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

Thursday, August 16, 2018

REVIEW: Spying on Whales

Spying On Whales
Author: Nick Pyenson

I've always had a fascination with whales, dolphins and other mammals that live in the sea. I think maybe it's because they are so like us, and yet so different at the same time. When I saw this book written by a Smithsonian paleontologist, I knew I had to read all about the past, present and future of whales. I'm glad I did -- this book is fascinating!

Nick Pyenson shares so many facts about whales...species that still swim in our oceans and ones that are long gone. He discusses the ancestors of the whales we know today, the life of whales now and what the future might be for some of the largest creatures on the planet. There is still so much about whales that we don't know because they spend most of their time in deep ocean where even modern humans have a hard time following. I found it fascinating that Pyenson shared the fact that some whales can live more than 200 years...so there are some still swimming that saw wooden ships with sails skimming across the ocean. It made me wonder with awe what experiences the oldest whale in the world might have had over its long life.

There is a lot of information and facts shared in this book, and at times Pyenson does get a bit academic. I read this book in small pieces, not in large chunks. The information is interesting and fascinating. But at times, the author let his ego show a bit. I don't fault highly educated people for this at all....they have a lot of knowledge and experiences that I don't. For me, small doses is best with information dense nonfiction like this book. Every night I would read a chapter or two while the HD television across the room showed an ocean documentary for ambiance. It just so happened that I was reading this book while Shark Week was on Discovery Channel....so it worked out perfectly. Sharks aren't whales of course...but the lovely ocean scenes made a perfect background for my enjoyment of this book.

Lovely book! A nice blend of Pyenson's personal experiences and facts, history and information about whales themselves. He presents the information in an interesting way. Pyenson actually gives tours at the Smithsonian. After reading his book, I imagine he is an awesome guide! Great read!

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Penguin/Viking via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

REVIEW: Cross My Path

Cross My Path
Author: Clea Simon

The first thing that caught my attention is the cover of this book. What a beautiful black cat! And then the premise of the series pulled me in the rest of the way.....  Carrie "Care'' Wright is a private investigator. She solves cases for those in need with the help of her cat, Blackie. Blackie isn't just a cat....he's special. The story is told from the cat's point of view.

Cross My Path is the third book in this series. Usually I am picky and prefer to read a series starting at book 1. When I chose this particular book for review, I didn't realize it was part of a series. As I started reading, I was a bit confused at first....having no previous knowledge of the characters or their background. But I quickly figured things out. Blackie is a very, very special cat.....and I immediately loved him! Such a creative and interesting character! But, I think it would have been best -- and less confusing -- to start this series at book one. I'm going to backtrack and start over....beginning with The Ninth Life and As Black As My Fur before re-reading this book. Even with the slight confusion over prior events, I enjoyed this story and will definitely be reading more from Clea Simon!

This is the first book by Clea Simon that I have read. I like her story and writing style. And I definitely liked the characters in this series. It has a very gritty, noir feel. Fun and enjoyable read!

Ordered a copy of The Ninth Life -- I have to read this series from the beginning!

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Severn House via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. All black cats encountered during the reading of this book had their ears scritched and tummies rubbed, as required by Cat Law.**

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

REVIEW: Scream Site

Review: Scream Site
Author: Justina Ireland

Sabrina Sebastian dreams of being an investigative reporter. Right now she's a reporter for her school's paper, The Mount Clare High School Weekly, but she has her eyes set on a internship at the Daily Sun. A real reporting job! She wants to write an exciting story that will get her noticed. She decides to look into rumors surrounding a horror website, Scream Site. The site is sponsoring a contest to award a big prize to the maker of the video with the most likes and shares at the end of the year. But, rumors are circulating that girls who have posted popular videos to the site are disappearing. Sabrina starts researching the site and the rumors and discovers the stories might just be true. The whole thing might just revolve around the sponsors of Scream Site, a closed amusement park and a Scream Site user, Shady99. When she starts looking deeper into the disappearances, she starts receiving threats. Her perfect news story might just be a bit more dangerous than she thought!

The premise for this story makes for a great YA horror story. Horror video site gone horribly wrong. And for the first 2/3 of the book, I was completely engrossed in the plot. But....the ending fell flat for me. I felt the ending was rushed and a bit too convenient....a "safe'' ending? While it is important to remember the audience a book is written for, I think the end for this one was a bit too childish.....like an old Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys ending. Too soft. I was waiting for a horrific finish......and I didn't get it.

But, I enjoyed the story up to that point. My son, who is a YouTube fanatic, would like this book. I think he would have the same comments about the ending that I did though.

I liked this book enough to read more by this author. The story was engaging and interesting. My only problem with it was the ending. I wanted more of a Scream from Scream Site. Justina Ireland has written several other YA books including Dread Nation and Vengeance Bound. Dread Nation sound so interesting! A zombie story set back in the Civil War era....definitely added to my TBR list!

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Capstone via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**


Monday, August 13, 2018

REVIEW: Shelved Under Murder

Shelved Under Murder
Author: Victoria Gilbert

Taylorsford, VA is gearing up for its annual Heritage Festival featuring local arts, crafts and history. While she loves the festival, the fall foliage and the people, Librarian Amy Webber is not looking forward to the library's fundraiser at the event. Things get worse when Amy and her assistant, Sunny, go to pick up artwork from a local artist and find Rachel Wynn dead, stabbed with a palette knife. Her scupltor husband is nowhere to be found. When forged artwork is discovered hidden away on the Wynn property, the case becomes much more than just a murder investigation. Because Amy has a degree in art history, she is pulled in to help with the case. Who killed Rachel Wynn? And is her murder related to the forged artwork?

I am enjoying this new cozy series. Partially because I live near the Blue Ridge Mountains...but mostly because I like the characters. Amy is an intelligent main character with a nice mix of determination, skill and feisty-ness. I enjoy all the side characters and the background theme of a library in a small VA town. This second book in the Blue Ridge Library cozy series moved along at a nice pace. The mystery was engaging and kept my attention the entire time. Plus, there is some good character development in this newest book, helping move the series forward.

Reading this enjoyable fall season cozy really put me in the mood for all the local festivals and county fairs that will be coming up soon! Plus pumpkin spice and apple flavored/scented everything! :)

I'm definitely going to keep reading this cozy series. The next book, Past Due For Murder, is set to come out in February 2019.

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

Sunday, August 12, 2018

REVIEW: Why To Kill A Mockingbird Still Matters

Why To Kill A Mockingbird Matters
Author: Tom Santopietro

I recently re-read To Kill A Mockingbird. The classic novel is one of 100 books chosen for The Great American Read. I remembered loving the book when I read it in high school and again in college. I think I liked it even more re-reading it as a middle-aged adult.

Tom Santpietro's book delves into the impact that the novel and the 1962 film version have had, touching on whether the book is racist and how it relates to the current culture in America. I loved this in-depth look at one of my favorite classic books (and classic film). I liked how the author pinpointed why this book is still relevant today. I didn't necessarily agree with all of his points and the discussion of whether this book is racist went on a little too long in my opinion. But, I thought it was a thoughtful and well-researched look into the novel and the impact it had on American, and global, culture.

Reading this book has given me the strength to finally read the copy of Go Set a Watchman that has been sitting on my TBR shelf since it's publication. I haven't been able to gather up the courage to read it since I know it changes the story somewhat (Atticus is racist and other major changes), and because I felt it might have been exploitation of the author to publish what is basically her first unpublished version of the story. I think I'm ready to brave it now.....and then spend some time thinking about how I feel about it.

This is the first book by Tom Santopietro that I have read. He's written several other books about films and culture including The Godfather Effect, Considering Doris Day, The Sound of Music Story, and The Importance of Being Barbra. I'm definitely going to read more of his books. This one was incredibly thought provoking for me and I enjoy how he relates literature and film to our culture.

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from St. Martins Press. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

Saturday, August 11, 2018

REVIEW: The Fast-5 Diet and the Fast-5 Lifestyle

The Fast-5 Diet & The Fast-5 Lifestyle
Author: Bert W. Herring, MD

After having surgery 8 years ago, I have to follow a specialized diet that is sometimes incredibly challenging. Very low carb. No sugar. High protein. It's difficult to maintain. I slipped and over the last couple of years started eating foods I knew I wasn't supposed to have. Not only did it make me feel ill, but also caused me to gain weight. It's easy to pretend that pounds aren't creeping on....until seasons change...and trying on clothes that used to fit becomes a lesson in the stark reality that my rear has outgrown my wardrobe. So, I decided that it was time to suck it up and change how I was living my life.....increase my exercise again and find an eating plan that fit what works best for my franken-gut.

I read this book hoping that intermittent fasting would be the answer for me. And, I think it is!

In The Fast-5 Diet and the Fast-5 Lifestyle, Dr. Bert W. Herring outlines what intermittent fasting is (eating only in a set window of time each day) and his instructions for how to transition, solve problems and maintain this way of eating. I love this! The plan is common sense and simple. And it will work with any healthy, mindful eating plan. Modified fasting also alleviates some of the problems that total fasting can cause, especially for someone like me that has decreased absorption of nutrients from foods. I am currently still transitioning to an eating window of 5-10 pm. My breakfast is at 2 pm now, and I eat two meals. Over the next several weeks, I will transition my first meal of the day later and later until I hit that 5 pm mark. I am not starving myself. I eat very wonderful, healthy, nutritious foods with my family when it's within my window to eat. In my fasting hours, I can drink water, coffee, tea.....I'm doing fine. And, I'm feeling better already. My gut is no longer bloated. I have so much more energy. I sleep better. I still have to take a lot of nutritional supplements due to the intestinal modifications I live with....and I start taking those in the morning to get them all in by evening time. So, smooth sailing so far. It's all working wonderfully! I feel better, and I'm seeing a return to better physical health. I feel a little better every day. I am anxious to see how my bloodwork has improved when I go to my next doctor's appointment in September.

As with any major change in diet, it's best to consult your physician before attempting intermittent fasting. This program is not recommended for diabetics or others who have to eat every few hours for medical reasons. My husband is diabetic....so he isn't doing Fast-5 with me, but he is eating the same foods I make for myself, so the program is benefiting him indirectly.

Dr. Herring also has another book related to this introductory book: AC: The Power of Appetite Correction. It's also a wonderful tool that I am reading and learning so much from it. Being surrounded by junk food, greasy fast food options, constant television commercials about food.....it makes overeating, impulse eating and other problems common place these days. I highly recommend both books for anyone looking to transition to a more healthy relationship with food. For me, this is giving me a common sense approach to dealing with my diet restrictions and health concerns.

Friday, August 10, 2018

REVIEW: Killer Green Tomatoes

Killer Green Tomatoes
Author: Lynn Cahoon

Angie Turner finally finds a local supplier for fresh grown tomatoes. She's ecstatic because local produce is vital to her Farm-To-Fork restaurant, County Seat. Her happiness is a bit short-lived however, when Javier is arrested for murder. His girlfriend has been murdered and local law enforcement think he did it. Not only is Javier her new produce supplier, but also the cousin of Estebe, one of her kitchen staff. Angie loves her staff like family, so she agrees to help clear Javier's name.

Killer Green Tomatoes is the second book in the Farm-To-Fork cozy mystery series. I love the concept of a restaurant that serves only locally sourced produce and meats, so this is an enjoyable new cozy series for me. I like Angie as a main character. She is intelligent and a bit feisty, but a kind boss. The side characters all blend well to make the background theme of small-town Idaho and a farm-to-plate restaurant work well. The background theme doesn't over power the mystery, but helps build the plot. I like Lynn Cahoon's other cozies -- The Tourist Trap and Cat Latimer series -- and this newest series does not disappoint.

The mystery is nicely paced and interesting, with plenty of sleuthing required and a few twists. I'm definitely going to read more of this series. It provided me with a nice, relaxing evening of reading.
Plus the recipe for Fried Zucchini at the end of the book sounds amazing! There is no recipe for fried green tomatoes, but the traditional southern dish is mentioned several times during the story. I'm now motivated to try my hand at cooking some up before the end of the summer season. I've lived in the south for 15 years and have never tried the dish before. It will be an adventure!

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



Wednesday, August 8, 2018

REVIEW: The Mermaid

The Mermaid
Author: Christina Henry

What if the famed Fiji Mermaid displayed in the 1800s by PT Barnum had been real?

A mermaid, curious about humans, wanders too close to the shore and is netted by a fisherman. The man lets her go, but something in his gaze draws her to him. She leaves the ocean and lives with him as a human for years, until his death. Then she meets PT Barnum. Barnum doesn't want to display a fake mermaid poorly constructed from a monkey and fish.....he wants to give people the real thing. Although Barnum promises she can leave at any time, he is determined to keep his mermaid, and the money she makes for him, at almost any cost. Can Amelia have a happy-ever-after....or will she always be on display in Barnum's museum?

I enjoyed this story. Once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down. Amelia is such a complex and intriguing character. Living on land, but with an intense need to also be in the sea, she is conflicted even before being put on display by PT Barnum. The Mermaid is a magical and thought provoking story. I didn't really like the way PT Barnum is depicted. But being a businessman and showman, he might have been driven by a bit of greed and self-importance in reality. I just didn't like thinking of him as a liar and manipulator. I'd rather think of him as an interesting, slightly mystical, entertainer.....not a greedy, thoughtless bastard. That might be wishful thinking on my part, however, as the man made his living by tricking people much of the time. My favorite scene is one where Barnum's wife and kids discover that Amelia is the real deal.....it was just an awesome scene! I love the premise that his mermaid is actually real....so much cooler than the monkey-fish combo he really displayed. Can you imagine getting to see a real mermaid?? I would definitely have paid Barnum money to see that! :) But....would anyone stop to think about whether the mermaid was happy or not? And would she be safe?

I enjoyed this book and will definitely read more by this author!

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Berkley Publishing via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

REVIEW: Kiss the Girls

Kiss the Girls
Author: James Patterson

Alex Cross is a skilled, and dedicated, detective from Washington, DC. When he discovers his niece is missing from her college in NC and might possibly have been kidnapped by a serial killer, he jumps into the case with NC authorities and the FBI. Women are disappearing. All beautiful, very intelligent women. Some are found murdered. And others are just gone, with no clues as to their whereabouts. When one victim escapes, Alex and the FBI find out that this case might be much more complex and dangerous. The NC kidnappings and murders might be related to similar crimes in California.  Alex and the FBI race to solve the case and find the missing victims before more of them are killed.

I am really enjoying this series. I read the first book because it was listed as part of the Great American Read, and continued on because I like the characters, especially Alex Cross. Cross is a complex character. He is a ruthless investigator, but a kind and gentle father to his two kids. The plots are interesting and very suspenseful. Kiss the Girls is not for the feint of heart. It contains quite graphic depictions of torture, rape, kidnapping and abuse. There was one scene with an assault involving a snake that made me have to turn the audio book off for awhile and watch a Disney movie. It was.......intense and disturbing. The bad guy in this story is crazier than an S-house rat....and very, very dangerous. The point of view jumps around quite a bit ..... changing from victims, to killer, to Alex Cross. I'm not usually a fan of stories that jump around like that, but for this book, it worked perfectly. It just heightened the suspense, and developed the characters. The crimes were chilling and horrible. The story definitely kept me on the edge of my seat.

I usually listen to audio books outside while I do yard work. But this one was a bit too intense and graphic. It wasn't appropriate for listening to outside because our neighbors on one side have small children, and the neighborhood gossips are on the other side. I had visions of the gossips calling around telling people I was listening to dirty sex books in my front yard. ha ha.  I chose to enjoy this suspenseful story in the privacy of my kitchen, saving me from any neighbor side eye. :) Very, very good book -- just a note of caution for those who have small kids at home or have qualms about books with rape/torture themes.

Narrated by Michael Kramer, the audio book version I listened to is just shy of 11 hours long. I would have preferred a black voice actor narrating, but Kramer did a good job. I have hearing loss, but was easily able to hear and understand the entire book.

I'm definitely going to read more of this series! Very enjoyable so far! The books are bestsellers for a reason. I wish I had started reading sooner! Not sure why I never read this series. Fixing my error now!

Monday, August 6, 2018

REVIEW: Murder at the Mansion

Murder at the Mansion
Author: Sheila Connolly

Katherine Hamilton is the manager of an upscale hotel in Baltimore. She finally has all her ducks in a row and loves her life. Then a high school friend, Lisbeth, comes to visit her, begging her to return to their hometown, Asheboro, MD to talk to the city council. Lisbeth won't say why, but it's a short trip across the state, so Katherine agrees. Turns out that Asheboro is nearly bankrupt. The city leaders want her to help them turn an old Victorian mansion in town into a tourist destination. Old issues crop up almost immediately because her old high school enemy, Cordelia Walker, has presented an alternate plan. Things get even worse when Cordelia is found dead and Katherine becomes a murder suspect. Katherine finds herself not only investigating the mysteries of the old mansion...but Cordelia's murder as well.

This is a  nice start to a new cozy series. I like the characters and the setting. The mystery was nicely paced and there were plenty of suspects and small town gossipy clues to keep me interested. I like the fact that the old house had some mystery to throw in to the mix as well. I definitely like Katherine as a main character. She is an intelligent and driven woman, but still was willing to put her career aside to help her hometown (no matter how much hot water it got her into!) I sympathized with her and felt a certain kinship, as I always seem to find myself knee-deep in crap every single time I put personal interests aside to help someone else. I had to smile knowingly several times when Katherine really tried to do something good...and ended up with egg on her face. Maybe instead of the old saying being "You can't go home again'' it should be "You SHOULDNT go home again. Don't do it!''

I will definitely be reading more of this series. Very enjoyable read!

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from St. Martins Press via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

Sunday, August 5, 2018

REVIEW: The Woman in the Woods

The Woman in the Woods
Author: John Connolly

I usually have a rule about reading book series in order. The book blurb for this one sounded interesting enough for me to break my rule. The Woman in the Woods is the 16th book in the Charlie Parker series. While some characters from prior novels pop back up in this one, I was able to follow the story and figure things out enough to really enjoy this book. The plot is complex...the characters gritty....and the suspense almost unbearable. I loved it! I now have to back track and start the Charlie Parker series from the beginning! Some events and discussion of past cases will make much more sense if I re-read this after reading the prior books.

A mummified corpse is discovered in the woods. Charlie Parker is hired to investigate and identify the dead woman. Apparently the woman died soon after giving birth, but the infant's corpse is not present. It turns out the case is much more complicated than an unidentified dead woman. And dangerous.

I loved how all the different story lines going in this book all came together. The characters are amazing and the complex plot was just awesome. This is the first book by John Connolly that I have read -- I will most definitely be reading more. A lot more. Like everything this man has written. Just outstanding -- great writing and a creative, suspenseful plot.

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

Saturday, August 4, 2018

REVIEW: Cusp of Night

Cusp of Night
Author: Maya Sinclair

Maya Sinclair is recovering from a nearly fatal car accident. She was dead for more than two minutes, but resuscitated by medical staff. She remembers flitting images, or at least the feeling, of being in the Aether. It was like a holding ground for spirits who would be returning to earth. Maya goes to Hode Hill, PA to spend time with a friend and recover from her physical and mental ordeal. She gets sucked into local lore and gossip almost immediately. The Hode family has run things in Hode Hill for generations, much to the annoyance of some. A secretive research facility on the outskirts of town is tied to at least one death. And, every year the town has a festival formed around local folklore about The Fiend, a murderous, supernatural devil-like creature that murdered several Hode Hill residents in the 1890s. Maya discovers the history revolves around Lucinda Glass, a medium with blue-toned skin, who was killed by The Fiend. When sightings of the monster begin anew in Hode Hill and ghosts haunt the brownstone she's renting, Maya starts delving deeper into the Hode Hill legends.

OMG -- I love this book! I am a sucker for creepy, supernatural horror, and this story just sucked me right in. I couldn't stop reading! The story switches point of view, alternating between Maya in the present day and Lucinda Glass more than 100 years ago. Usually I'm not much of a fan of POV jumps, but for this story it worked perfectly. I am happy to discover this is the first book of a series. The second book, End of Day, is coming out in January 2019! This is the kind of horror that I love to read -- Halloween-y type creepy stories and not gore fests. The monster does attack people in this story, but there are no graphic descriptions of severed limbs or spurting blood. I am happy to discover that another series, Point Pleasant, centered around the Mothman legend. I think I have found the first series I'm going to start reading for Halloween prep this year! I can get myself into the mood of the fall season early this year! Woot! I will most definitely be reading more by this author.

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Kensington via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

REVIEW: Poisoned Prose

Poisoned Prose
Author: Ellery Adams

Oyster Bay, NC is hosting a storyteller's retreat. The best storytellers from around the country are coming, with the headliner being Violetta Devereaux. Violetta is by far the most famous guest, renowned for her talent at captivating entire rooms of listeners with her stories. The Bayside Book Writers Group is a bit surprised at how secretive and closed off the performer seems to be. Violetta doesn't give interviews. She doesn't stay after performances or mingle with fans. Olivia Limoges is surprised when Violetta agrees to see her. The storyteller answers a few of Olivia's questions, but seems resigned to meeting some strange fate in Oyster Bay. She calls the coastal NC town her Gethsemane. Her strange future vision comes true when she is found strangled just minutes later. Who killed Violetta? And why?

This mystery is complex and a bit dark, but very enjoyable. Secrets never stay hidden. Some main characters in this series have secrets that come out in this book....but none compare to the secrets hidden by their famous storyteller. It makes for a fast-paced, suspenseful and creative story!

My one issue with this series is that it tends to get a bit overly emotional for me. I'm not one for romance novels. I like mysteries....and this series just tends to wing off into romance land, or women's fiction type melodramatic scenes, a bit too much for my taste. But -- I am invested in the characters and I love the creative plots. I do occasionally have to roll my eyes when Olivia goes into some soliloquy about how much she loves her boyfriend....I just have this snarky little voice in my head that goes "OK OK....you love the guy...get back to the mystery!''  :)  Just being honest.  I do like the fact that the books don't abruptly come to an end when the mystery is solved. There is always a chapter or two of wrap up and character development. I could just use a bit less lovey-dovey sappiness.  But....for those who enjoy romance novels and cozies, this would be the perfect mix!

Just a bit of a head's up -- there is sex and some adult themes in this series. No cursing and no graphic stuff, but it does get a bit adult here and there. I wouldn't hand this book to anyone under 13 without reading it first to be sure it passes your personal appropriate guidelines.

Poisoned Prose is the 5th book in this series of 8. Three more to go! :)




Friday, August 3, 2018

REVIEW: Bring Me Back

Bring Me Back
Author: B.A. Paris

Twelve years ago, Finn's girlfriend disappeared while they were vacationing in France. Finn told the police that while stopped at a service station, Layla simply vanished. That was basically the truth....but not the whole truth. Now years later he is engaged to Layla's sister, Ellen. But someone is sending strange emails and leaving things for both Ellen and Finn to find.....things that hint Layla might not be dead. If Layla is alive, what does she want? And if she's dead.....who is stalking them?

All I can say is.....wow. As I read this book, I thought I knew what the ending was going to be. I had it all mapped out in my head. But, the story managed to wallop me with a complete surprise. I love it when that happens!

Bring Me Back is a psychological thriller. Most of the story is told from Finn's point of view, with a few chapters from Layla's perspective. The whole situation is completely screwed up....Layla gone for 12 years, Finn getting ready to marry her sister, Finn never telling the truth about what happened. Then Russian nesting dolls start showing up everywhere. Layla and her sister both loved those dolls as a child. Now dolls show up on their backyard fence, on the windshield of their car, tucked in with their bill at a restaurant....  Seriously creepy.  Not to mention the emails. Someone hinting that Layla isn't dead. Slowly, the story unfolds and Finn tells the truth.....but the whole story doesn't come into focus until the last few pages. The epilogue....the very last page of the book....brings it all full circle. Chilling, creepy and awesome!

This is the first book by B.A. Paris that I have read. I'm definitely coming back for more!

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