Sunday, March 31, 2019

REVIEW: How Do You Know It's Winter?

How Do You Know It's Winter
Author: Ruth Owen

My local library just added several awesome children's books to its digital website. I'm always looking for great books to send to the grandkids, so I checked out a few. The cover of this book by Ruth Owen really caught my eye. How Do You Know It's Winter? is part of the Signs of the Seasons series.

Not only does this book have awesome full-color photos and artwork on each page, but it also includes classroom or homeschool activities and a science lab section. Geared for elementary age students, I can see this book being a great supplement for weather related science lessons for kindergarten through second graders. The book includes common core requirements like a list of keywords, an index, suggested booklist and an informational weblink. I homeschooled my youngest son for three years in elementary school and I would have loved this book! Lessons that combined information with outdoor activities always helped my son learn and retain his lesson work, and added fun to our school day.

This book could also be read at home by parents, with the addition of some fun, outside activities like tracking morning temperatures and sunset times, or taking a walk to see how winter changes the landscape.

Awesome book! Very colorful and inviting, plus great activities for school or home.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

REVIEW: How Do You Know It's Fall?

How Do You Know It's Fall?
Author: Ruth Owen

As a grandma and former homeschool teacher, I'm always on the lookout for great children's books. My local library just added some awesome children's science books, so I checked out a few. Ruth Owen's books on the weather really caught my eye. Each page has colorful and eye-catching photos and illustrations. The science information is presented in an age appropriate way for young elementary students, with ideas for extra activities included.

The first thing that drew my attention to this book is the cover. Who could resist that cute squirrel? After teaching my youngest son at home for 3 years, I know that front cover would have been a great segue into a science lesson on fall weather, environmental changes and other fall facts. Each page of this book is full-color with an attractive layout. The information is age appropriate for young elementary students. The book is fully in line with common core requirements and includes a list of keywords, an index, suggested reading list and a weblink for more information. The book would be perfect in a classroom setting. It includes a science lab, plus several suggested outdoor activities like tracking daily temperatures and collecting autumn leaves or taking a walk to discuss signs that it's autumn. I always found that combining a lesson with an experiment and outdoor activities helped my son learn and retain important facts so much better than depending only on written classwork.

Awesome book! Great activities and facts for use at home with parents/grandparents or in a school setting.

Friday, March 29, 2019

REVIEW: Beauty Queens

Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray

When I first read the blurb for this book, I knew it was something I had to read. Mostly because the topic of beauty pageants brings back memories of my Most Horrific Moment. Everyone has one....a moment in the teen years where something happens that makes you cringe for eternity.

What's my Most Horrific Moment? (Yes, I will get to my review of this book.....but after my tell-all revelation)  I was once in a beauty pageant.  I am not pretty. I am not sexy. I am nerdy. Yeah....the nerdy girl was in a beauty pageant. Because......I was the only girl left. Two cheerleaders were pregnant. The most beautiful girl in our class (who was an awesome friend) was already in another pageant. Another two girls had parents that said no on grounds of modesty/religion/morals.  I was literally the only halfway passable girl left. The Daphnes were all Velma was tricked (guilted, really) into participating. I had no idea what I was getting into. Oh. My. God.  I had to go to meetings about how to wave properly, how to walk properly, a two hour presentation on what "talent showcase'' meant.  A makeup artist came to give us beauty tips. He looked around the room and chose me to use as a model.....I immediately found out why. He chose the one girl in the room who had no chance of winning so that the others (who all obviously had a shot at the tiara) could watch what he was doing. The entire time he was applying greasy nasty crap to my face he kept saying "See what makeup can do? It can make ANYONE look wonderful.'' In my mind I was applying a roundhouse kick to the side of his head and curb stomping him for being mean jerk. But on the outside I was smiling and pretending I didn't get his snide remarks. What an asshole. And the girls were supremely snarky to one another. If the pretty girls are all being bitches to each other....just imagine how they were to plain girl thrown into their midst. I felt like the hunk of steak tossed into a lion's den. It was AWFUL. I wanted to just feign a seizure to remove myself. But, the Lions Club had sponsored me.....and all the other nerdy girls were cheering me on. I couldn't quit. So, I did it. I was a swimsuit clad hunk of meat with a horrific silk banner on for ONE NIGHT. I did not come in last. I came in next to last....ahead of the girl who completely froze up during the judges interview and couldn't answer questions. I think she even threw up. The judges comments?  Lose 15 pounds. Change your hair. Your evening gown is ugly. And those shoes? Really?? The actual pageant was the most horrific night of my young life. Under my swimsuit, I had double sided tape on my rear end and boobs to prevent wardrobe malfunctions. The pushup bra I had to wear under my gown had underwires that came straight out of a medieval iron maiden. And I had to put bandaids over my nipples so they didn't show. Because heaven only knows....girls parading around in swimwear on a stage can't have noticeable nipples. I had tape residue on my bum for a week after it was all over.

Who won? The cute blonde girl whose talent was singing a song while doing the lyrics in sign language whose greatest aspiration was to promote world peace in 3rd world countries.

So, that being said.....I just had to read a book about an airplane full of pageant beauty queens crashing on an island. Despite my previous pageant horror,  I absolutely loved this book!!

My favorite character is definitely Petra, the transgender pageant hopeful who used to be a member of a popular boy band. Awesome character! But this book has every stereotypical pageant girl from the overachiever pageant-veteran from Texas to the angry journalist-wanna-be that is there to unveil the horrors of beauty contests. Underneath the humor and satire is an awesome statement about gender, the conflicting messages girls get about beauty, femininity and sexuality, and stereotypes about pretty girls.

I listened to the audio book version of this story. The author narrates, and she did an absolutely awesome job. She did the voices for the characters perfectly and just made the listening experience fun. The audio book is 14.5 hours long. I have partial hearing loss but was easily able to hear and understand the entire book.

Great humor. Fun story. And it let me laugh about my Most Horrific Moment. 34 years later, I still cringe just thinking about it. And I still wish I could F'ing curb stomp that makeup applying jerk face moron who spent an entire afternoon making snide comments about my appearance. Adult me still wants to fling back in time just to kick his ass.

I will definitely read more by this author! :)

Thursday, March 28, 2019

REVIEW: Avery Meets Chevy

Avery Meets Chevy
Author: Mary Hiker

Avery Barks works at Goodman's maintenance shop. She's the office manager, but her heart really lies in search and rescue. A year ago she lost her search & rescue dog, Jet. She's been mourning her dog ever since, especially at the holidays. As she investigates thefts of items from her cabin in the small NC mountain town where she lives, she also considers that it's finally time to get a new dog.....

What a cute intro to a cozy mystery series! Avery Meets Chevy is the beginning of the Avery Barks series. There are 10 books so far. Each is a short, quick read at under 100 pages. I can tell Chevy, the lovable golden retriever, is going to be a romping, cute fun part of this series.

I enjoy cozy mysteries because they give me a happy break from the heavier fiction I read. After an intense thriller or really creepy horror novel, I love to read something light, something fun....cute animals, a simple mystery....something non-threatening....just to clear my brain. I can tell this series is going to be a perfect palate cleanser after my next several intense reads. :) I can't wait to see what antics Avery and Chevy get into!

The mystery is very light in this intro story....but that's totally ok. The story was more about character introduction and setting the scene for the cozy series. The mystery was a little side jaunt. Cute ending! :) I had to suspend a bit of reality when it came to a pair of shoes....but it only caused a momentary feeling of disbelief. Then Chevy bounded through my mind....and I forgot all about it. :)

Loved this story. It gave me a happy bit of reading...nice break in my day! I already have book 1 of the Avery Barks series queued up on my Kindle. Ready to go!

Mary Hiker writes other cozy mysteries as well, including the Shady Springs Dog Mysteries and the Miss Fortune series.

I'm definitely going to be reading more books by this author. I'm a sucker for cute dog stories and cozy mysteries! :)

**I voluntarily read this short story after receiving a free copy from the author. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.**

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

REVIEW: The Gatehouse Haunting

The Gatehouse Haunting
Author: Martyn Chapman

Ella has been ill. In fact she was hospitalized for a lengthy time, and feels weak and even confused most of the time. When her husband suggests a trip to Germany, she jumps at the chance to go. Maybe they can put their failing marriage back together, but Ella feels her husband is having an affair. In fact, he only plans to stay with her for one day, then return to work. She has an entire week alone in a wonderful old gatehouse in a quaint little village. But....she doesn't speak German....and strange things start happening in the old gatehouse. Anton belittles her concern that there is a ghost or something strange occurring, but Ella knows she isn't crazy.

This was an interesting story......a tale of the disintegration of a marriage with a swirl of supernatural elements. I had a rough time liking either of the main characters. Anton is a jerk and a total ass. Ella is weak and whiny. The ghosts saved the day. The weird happenings in the gatehouse kept me reading when I really wanted to abandon both these characters to their fates. The ending was a bit of a surprise, although it did seem a little like a magical fast wipe-up. I loved the little afterward from the author....a bit of a what-happened-next.

All in all, an entertaining fast read. Enjoyable story. Annoying main characters....but they are supposed to be that way. the end...the ghosts carried the day. Yay Spirits! :) I found the story original, and the ending actually did catch me by surprise. So, despite some MC-hate, I'm overall a fan of this story.

There are a few typos and minor editing mistakes in the book....all minor. And it didn't have an effect on my enjoyment of the story.

I would definitely stay in the interesting old gatehouse in the beautiful German village.....ghosts or no ghosts. The spirits would just have to make room for me! Great setting idea!

**I won a copy of this book in a giveaway at Goodreads. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own and not influenced by my winning the book.**

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

REVIEW: The Graveyard Speaks

The Graveyard Speaks
Author: Hunter Shea

Jessica Backman is a ghost hunter. She learned everything she knows from her father who was obsessed with the paranormal. This time, she's called to a cemetery in the Bronx. Nobody will go anywhere near the grave of Meredith Spooner. Each night a terrifying black entity rises from the grave. Jessica is called in to investigate. Turns out, there is more going on than she expected....

The Graveyard Speaks is a short story. It's part of the Jessica Backman series. There are 3 books so far. This story figures in after the first I need to backtrack and read book one, Forest of Shadows. That book introduces Jessica and her father, giving a bit more background into the family and Jessica's start into ghost hunting.

I enjoyed this story despite not being familiar with the characters or background. It's a nice intro to the series. I'm definitely going to read the books. This story was creepy and interesting!

I'm already a big Hunter Shea fan. He has creeped me out with all manner of monsters -- spooky fungus, huge rats, a giant dinosaur eating Florida.....  I'm perfectly happy to let him scare me with ghosts, too. I'm always up for a good monster or ghost story! The creepier the better! So I'm definitely up for the Jessica Backman series. Got book 1 queued up and ready to go!

**I voluntarily read a free copy of this short story. The story is available for free on his Of course, the free story did not have any bearing on my review. All opinions expressed in this review (and every review I write) are entirely my own. Free stories/books. Purchased stories/books. Borrowed stories/books. ARC stories/books.....all the same. Ethics, dudes. Ethics. Can you tell I am fully caffeinated today? I'm mellow. :) **

Monday, March 25, 2019

REVIEW: My Lovely Wife

My Lovely Wife
Author: Samantha Downing

This story is a wickedly twisted, demented look into the perfect marriage from hell. The couple is well-suited. In fact, they were probably made just for each other. Soul mates. The problem is.... well, they kill people. Together. Because they like it.

Yeah. The sort of happily married couple you DON'T want for neighbors. Nope, nope, nope.

Millicent and her hubby live in the 'burbs. They have two teenage kids. Her husband works as a tennis instructor. And he's the perfect husband....he would do anything for his lovely wife, including kidnapping and torturing people.

The entire time I was reading this book I kept thinking "Oh my God, these two people are horrible, vile, scary human beings!'' But I couldn't put the book down. I had to know what they were doing, thinking, planning next. The story is suspenseful, creative and disturbingly different. I was totally caught up in the plot. Murderous couple kills here and there....everything is fine. They keep up their facade as a happy suburban couple. Then things start to go wrong.....perfect couples don't always stay perfect, right? And the was perfect. Spot on.

Loved it! Completely and deliciously twisted! I can't wait to read more by this author!

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

Sunday, March 24, 2019

REVIEW: No Way Out and Other Scary Short Stories

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

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

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

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

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

Now on to my review of this book!

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 23, 2019

REVIEW: Murder in Belgravia

Murder in Belgravia
Author: Lynn Brittney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 22, 2019

REVIEW: Trouble on the Books

Trouble on the Books
Author: Essie Lang

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 21, 2019

REVIEW: After Atlas

After Atlas
Author: Emma Newman

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

REVIEW: Monster Mashup

Monster Mashup
Author: MJ Ware

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

REVIEW: Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb

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

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

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

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

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

Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb is available for free download from the authors website ( and also on Amazon.

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

Monday, March 18, 2019

REVIEW: Murder Once Removed

Murder Once Removed
Author: S.C. Perkins

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 17, 2019

REVIEW: The Last Year of the War

The Last Year of the War
Author: Susan Meissner

In 1943 when she was 13 years old, Elise Sontag was sent to an internment camp in Texas with her entire family. Her parents were born in Germany and despite 20 years in America, they were investigated and interred as possible Nazi sympathizers. It was the last year of World War II. Many of German, Japanese, and Italian descent were being forced into camps. Elise was born in America, but it didn't matter. She spent 18 months in the camp and then her entire family was sent to Germany. They were exchanged for American civilians and POWs. While in the camp, Elise became best friends with a Japanese girl, Mariko Hayashi. When Mariko's family was going back to Japan and Elise faced deportation to Germany, the two girls promised that after the war they would find each other again. They wouldn't see each other again for 60 years......

I never knew about the WW II internment camps in America until I reached college level history courses. All those years of history instruction in public school, and it was never mentioned once that Americans were detained. I can only imagine how frightening and traumatic it was for Americans to be forced into camps because of their foreign birth or ancestry. The Last Year of the War is both disturbing and joyful. Two girls find friendship amidst injustice, but are separated for decades by circumstances and the aftermath of war.

At times, I felt the plot moved a little too slow. Just as Elise was getting close to her reunion with Mariko, the story would jump back to the war era, prolonging the moment I was waiting for. I think my feelings were just pure impatience on my part. The girls waited 60 years to see each other would think I could hang in there for 300 pages or so. When I finished the book and could think about the story as a whole, I realized that the slow build was necessary.

This is a beautiful and very emotional story. It not only shows the effects of war on children but also the lasting bonds of friendship. This is the first book by Susan Meissner that I have read. I like her writing style and storytelling. I will definitely be reading more of her books!

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

Saturday, March 16, 2019

REVIEW: The Devil Aspect

The Devil Aspect
Author: Craig Russell

1935. An asylum outside Prague. Viktor Kosarek is a psychologist who dreams of being able to cure the severely insane. Not just any mentally ill patients...but the most dangerous. The criminally insane. Murderers. Those who have what he calls The Devil Aspect. Kosarek decides to conduct an experiment. He will use narcoanalysis to get inside the heads of six serial killers held in the asylum. Five men and one woman. A cocktail of drugs will allow him to probe for their impressions of their crimes and give him a way to perhaps make them confront their personal demons. What he discovers is more disturbing and twisted than he ever imagined.

This story is chillingly frightening. It really brings home the idea that some things are best left alone. Kosarek has good intentions....he really wants to help people. But, searching for the devil -- even inside the minds of killers -- is never a safe endeavor....mostly because sometimes you find him.

This book is a creepy, disturbing, and twisted tale. I loved it! I halfway saw the twist coming at the end....but was still pleasantly surprised at the way the plot played out. Nicely done! I like this author's writing style. The plot wasn't presented in a heavy handed way, despite the gruesome details. Things progressed more subtlety until the ending smacked me in the head. Totally awesome!

This is the first book by Craig Russell that I've read. I will definitely be reading more by this author.

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

Friday, March 15, 2019

REVIEW: The Last Woman in the Forest

The Last Woman in the Forest
Author: Diane Les Becquets

Marian loves her job. She works as an orienteer and dog handler on a wildlife conservation project in Canada. She even falls in love with a man she she works with. Tate quickly becomes everything to her. After a few weeks, they are placed on separate assignments and Tate is killed. Only then does she discover that he lied to her about his background, his family and childhood, nearly everything about himself. Even his story about finding a woman's dead body in the wilderness seems off. That particular lie makes Marian think that perhaps Tate may have been involved in the murders of at least four women in the area. Did she really know the man she loved? She reaches out to a forensic profiler who worked on the original investigations. The truth will either clear Tate's name or prove that he was a dangerous killer.

This story mixes the beauty of the Canadian wilderness with the horrific violence of a serial killer. I can only imagine what it would feel like to wonder if a loved one had killed multiple people. It would be devastating to discover after a death that maybe you never really knew the person at all. Marian is a strong and intelligent main character. She doesn't just slough off her suspicions and fears after Tate's death but calls Nick Shepard to ask for help unraveling the truth underneath all the lies.

This story builds slowly but definitely kept my attention from beginning to end. The plot is dark and twisty. Each time I thought I knew where the story was going, it zigged off in a new direction. The ending was definitely twisted, but perfect. Loved it!

I will definitely be reading more from this author!

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

Thursday, March 14, 2019

REVIEW: The Stranger Diaries

The Stranger Diaries
Author: Elly Griffiths

Mysterious messages in an unknown hand. A ghost haunting the dark halls of an old school building. A long-dead gothic author who penned a chilling short story. And murder. This book has all the dark shadows of a great gothic murder mystery, with modern suspense thriller nuances thrown in to give it a more updated feel. I binge read this book -- once I got started, I couldn't stop reading!

Clare Cassidy teaches in a British high school. A famous gothic writer, R. M. Holland, used to live in the old building on campus. His former office on the upper floor has been preserved. Holland's desk, notes, photographs....everything is still there. Clare spends her days teaching and her evenings working on a book about Holland. Things take a dark turn when a teacher at the school is murdered and strange clues are left for Clare.

I enjoyed the gothic feel of this book. The short story The Stranger by Holland is told in snippets, woven in with the modern day murder investigation. The full short story is only revealed at the very end of the book. The combination of Clare's obsession with the dead author and the violent events unfolding in her life set the tone for the story.

I love it when a mystery novel keeps me guessing until the very end. Every time I thought I knew the killer's identity, this story took a sharp turn and went in another direction. The story is told from the point of view of Clare, her daughter Georgia, and a female detective investigating the case. I don't usually enjoy stories that switch POV....most of the time it just makes the story confused and muddled. But, in this case, the different POVs worked perfectly. Griffiths masterfully builds suspense by revealing the story a little bit at a time through the three main female characters. Each sees the situation from a different angle....and it all comes crashing together at the very end.

My favorite character? Herbert the dog, of course. :)

This is the first book by Elly Griffiths that I've read. Griffiths also writes the Ruth Galloway series and the Stephens and Mephisto Mysteries. This book is a standalone story, separate from her other mysteries. I'm definitely going to be reading more by this author. I loved the story, the pacing and the creative, gothic feel of The Stranger Diaries. Any book that keeps me reading for an entire day because I just can't step away from the story earns full stars from me! Gothic chill and modern suspense masterfully combined -- loved it!

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

REVIEW: Harbinger

Author: M.C. Bass

Eli Cohen is an agent for the Orion Society, an ancient group formed to protect the world. For the past three years he has worked retrieving ancient scrolls, artifacts and other items that hold information or powers that could be dangerous in the hands of the wrong people. In Harbinger, Eli is tasked with retrieving an ancient stone chest. This mission will be dangerous and top secret as usual.

Harbinger is an introduction to the Ancient Purge series. There are two books in the series so far.

I received a free copy of this story from the author. I love a great action/adventure story with a bit of a paranormal type slant to I gladly started reading. Quickly, I was sucked into the story and enjoyed it! The story reminded me of Indiana Jones with a sprinkle of The Librarians and DaVinci Code thrown in for good measure. Although a story based on a secret society that collects magical/cursed/dangerous ancient artifacts is not a new one, I'm definitely intrigued after reading Harbinger. I like Eli Cohen as a main character. He's a Mossad agent and a member of the Orion Society. Not only is he going to complete missions in any way he can....but he's doing it for the safety of humanity. Kicking butt, taking names, and stealing dangerous artifacts....all to keep the entire world balanced and relatively peaceful. There is of course a very, very bad guy waiting in the wings to cause difficulty. This story definitely has my attention! I already have book one in the series, Awakening, on my Kindle ready to read.

Great action....interesting plot and characters....well-written. I will definitely be reading more by this indy author.

**I received a free copy of this story from the author. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

REVIEW: Something Read, Something Dead

Something Read, Something Dead
Author: Eva Gates

Something Read, Something Dead is the 5th book in the Lighthouse Library mystery series. I enjoy the series for its characters, humor and mystery plots....but also because the series is set in Nags Head, NC. I love to visit Nags Head! I've been to the Bodie Island Lighthouse -- climbed to the top, bought the t-shirt, love the place! So, being a Carolinian, I love this cozy mystery series!

I will say that I do have to suspend reality while I read these books. Bodie Lighthouse in the books and the real deal are quite different. Bodie Lighthouse is not big enough to house a library and an apartment...not even close. It's basically big enough to house the winding staircase to the top, and that's it. But I'm willing to forget that and enjoy imagining what it would be like for the tall, magestic, black and white striped landmark to house a library. :)

In this 5th visit to the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library, Librarian Lucy Richardson has a lot going on. Her cousin Josie is trying to plan her wedding, but apparently not fast enough for her Grandma Gloria. Gloria shows up with wedding planners in tow, expecting to take over the arrangements. Fussing about the venues, caterers, menus, dresses, etc ensues. All that fuss alone causes enough commotion all by itself....but it gets fundamentally worse when one of the planners drops dead at the wedding shower. Then a contractor finds major foundation damage to the lighthouse. Lucy is beside herself trying to investigate a murder....and save the library.

Great addition to this fun series. I love the mix of humor, mystery and NC coast quirkiness. :) I highly recommend both reading this series and visiting Nags Head! :)

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

Monday, March 11, 2019

REVIEW: American Princess

American Princess
Author: Stephanie Marie Thornton

Alice Roosevelt. Daughter of a president. Wife of a Congressman. Mistress to another. Media sensation. Outspoken. Strong-willed. An icon. She lived to the age of 96 and passed away having always lived life on her own terms, no matter what the cost. Sledding down the white house stairs on a lunch tray with her brothers. Smoking cigarettes on the roof of the white house. Her favorite color becoming a fashion sensation called Alice Blue. So many world leaders and dignitaries met. So many headlines. So many photographs. America's Princess. For 96 years. Now that is a life lived fully and well!

I didn't know much about Alice Roosevelt when I started reading this book based on her life. The more I read, the more I liked her. She refused to conform to the limited life that most women lived at the time. It created scandal and she had some embarrassing moments when her mouth got a bit ahead of her brain....but she was always 100% ALIVE and living all her moments to the fullest. Intelligent and Feisty with a capital F.

I'm glad I read this book and got to know about her life, her experiences, the triumphs and the sorrows. What a wonderful life she lived!

I'm definitely going to read more by this author. She's written several historical fiction books about women in history, including the women of Ghengis Khan, and the daughter of an Egyptian pharaoh.

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

Sunday, March 10, 2019

REVIEW: The Trial of Lizzie Borden

The Trial of Lizzie Borden
Author: Cara Robertson

"Lizzie Borden took an axe...gave her mother 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done...gave her father 41" ~Playground chant

In August 1892, the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, MA created a media frenzy. Their daughter, Lizzie, was arrested for the crime and put on trial. The murder trial was an instant sensation. At the time, nobody could believe a woman would hack her father and stepmother to death with an axe.

After more than 120 years, many still wonder.....

Did she? Or didn't she?

Cara Robertson has spent 20 years researching the murders and the trial. The Trial of Lizzie Borden is her first book.

This book is so interesting! The Borden case is one of the most interesting and intriguing unsolved mysteries in American history, in my opinion. I don't believe the case was really solved by the investigation or outcome of the trial because at that time nobody could believe a woman was really capable of such a violent crime. Lizzie was found not guilty (as we all know) but faced public scrutiny until her death in 1927 because nobody was sure. The question hung in the air for the rest of her life....was she really guilty? Or innocent? And...if she was innocent....who killed the Bordens?

After reading this book, I can't really sway my opinion one way or the other. The evidence in the case is long gone. If such a murder occurred today, there would be DNA analysis, fingerprint evidence, and the investigation would not be impeded by the sex of the accused. A person is assumed innocent until PROVEN guilty. In my opinion, the trial did not prove her guilt so she was freed. Did she actually murder her parents? After 127 years any proof is just dust in the wind...there is no way to know.

Awesome book! Obviously well researched, and definitely well-written. Awesome debut book. I will be looking for more from this author! I will be running over the facts of this case in my head now for days I'm sure.....did she? Maybe she did. But maybe she didn't. That's the rough beauty of an unsolvable can be pondered, but never really brought to a satisfying conclusion. Brain candy. Things for me to mull over in my head. Love it!

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

Saturday, March 9, 2019

REVIEW: They Came With the Snow

They Came With the Snow
Author: Christopher Coleman

Five weeks after a strange explosion started an intense never-ending blizzard in May, professor Dominic Daniels and his former student Naia are hunkered down in the student union building of a small local community college. Food, shelter, warm from Them. Outside the snow keeps falling. After weeks of hiding out from strange white crab-like monsters lurking out in the snow, supplies are dwindling. Dominic and Naia need to try and make a run for the near-by mall. Can they make it past the monsters? Are there more survivors out there?

They Came With the Snow is a quick, creepy read. I enjoyed the story. There isn't anything new here really.....government/military/scientist conspiracy goes horribly wrong, causing an apocalyptic event. Survivors run from monsters. Horror ensues. It makes for an enjoyable, entertaining read. I was a bit confused as to the exact nature of the blast/bomb/whatever caused the sudden blizzard and demise of most people in this small college town....but this is Sci-FICTION, not science I can suspend reality a bit and just enjoy the monsters. The author has written a second story in this series that is longer and more detailed -- The Melting. So I'm hoping for some event clarification in the next book.

All in all, a well-written, enjoyable quick read. I'm always up for a good apocalyptic monster story! The monsters were weird and creepy. The premise is believable enough to keep me reading. And the characters are engaging. Dominic is a bit of an ass....but we all make bad decisions sometimes, right? At least he is honest about it. He knows he's an ass.... Makes for an awesome conflicted character.

I have The Melting waiting in my Kindle. More cold! More monsters! I'm ready! Bring it on!

Christopher Coleman has written several other horror novels including The Sighting and the Gretel series.

Friday, March 8, 2019

REVIEW: The Wolf and the Watchman

The Wolf and the Watchman
Author: Niklas Natt Och Dag

1793. Stockholm. Crippled, former soldier, Mikel Cardell, discovers a mutilated corpse floating in a filth-filled lake. The body's arms, legs, eyes, and tongue have been removed. Cardell teams up with a dying lawyer to identify the body and find a killer. Turns out the pretty, painted elite class in the city aren't quite as beautiful as they seem....and the city has a very dirty, disturbing underbelly.

This had to let my thoughts percolate for a few days before I could write a review on this one. This one was a rough read. Not because it wasn't good....but because it was extremely and masterfully dark! The story is disturbing and even grotesque in places....but utterly mesmerizing. I couldn't stop reading....but there were a few scenes I found hard to read. Definitely not a book to read over dinner. I'm not going to comment on the plot at all beyond the basic blurb spoilers would ruin parts of the story for others. All I will say is it's disturbing and masterfully suspenseful.

The characters are gritty and realistic. It paints a bleak picture of class separation, hidden secrets and just the filth and brutal nature of life in the 18th century.

Great book! But be prepared for some gruesome violence, cruel characters and a disturbing look at poverty, death and deception in the 1790s.

I'm definitely going to be reading more by this author. He is one hell of a storyteller!

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

Thursday, March 7, 2019

REVIEW: The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale
Author: Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale is the first book in the Winternight Trilogy. I've had this book on my TBR list since it came out in 2017. The final book in the series came out this month, so I decided it was finally time to read this awesome folktale trilogy!

Vasilisa lives at the edge of the forest in the Russian wilderness with her father and siblings. Her mother died and after years of living alone, her father goes to Moscow and comes back with a new wife.  Vasilisa's new stepmother does not believe in the Old Ways of honoring household spirits and  forbids them to leave out bread or any of the other traditions. Vasilisa continues in secret, knowing that stopping the Old Ways might have dangerous consequences. As others stop honoring the old spirits, strange creatures begin coming out of the forest, crops fail and bad luck seems to haunt the village. As whispering starts about Vasilisa being a witch and bringing the bad luck, her stepmother demands she either be married or sent to a convent. But, the young girl knows she must not leave the forest because only she can protect her family and the village from evil.

I listened to the audio book version of this story (Random House Audio). Narrated by Kathleen Gati, the audio is just under 12 hours long. I listened to this book every night at bedtime for a week, curled up in my blankets with hot tea and my dogs just listening to Gati read. I felt like Vasilisa and her siblings sitting around the fire listening to folk tales told by their old nurse. :) Gati has a nice voice and her performance really brought out the folktale/old fairy tale feel of this story. I have partial hearing loss, but was easily able to hear and understand this entire book.

A lovely story! I already have book 2, The Girl in the Tower, queued up and ready to go! The old folk tale feel of this trilogy is just a joy to listen to on audio!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

REVIEW: The Real Wallis Simpson

The Real Wallis Simpson
Author: Anna Pasternak

The story of Wallis Simpson's infamous affair with the Prince of Wales in the 1930s that led to Edward VIII abdicating the throne after only 326 days as King of England has been told again and again. Simpson has been portrayed as everything from a gold digger to a whore to even a Nazi spy. Wallis Simpson was not a saint...she was a twice divorced American and an independent woman with a strong personality in a time where that was not fashionable. In The Real Wallis Simpson, Anna Pasternak strives to dig past gossip and media spin to get to the real woman. What was Wallis Simpson really like? Why did she get involved with Edward? Was their relationship really the romantic story it has been portrayed to be?

According to Pasternak, Wallis Simpson did not really want to marry the Prince of Wales. The situation got out of control and she was forced into a divorce and marriage she didn't really want. Pasternak, and other historians, now believe that the affair was pushed into marriage by the royal family and others because Edward's immature behavior, reckless spending, and lack of attention to responsibility made him a poor king. Getting him to abdicate and marry Wallis Simpson passed the crown on to his brother, who was a more stable choice. But, it left Wallis Simpson stuck.....she missed the husband she was forced to divorce and was forced into exile with an often moody, immature Edward.

Kinda changes the story a bit doesn't it?

I will admit I believed the decades of gossip. I always believed Simpson was a twice-divorced sex pot who set her eyes on the Prince and wheedled her way into his head til she got what she wanted. But after reading this book, I have to change my mind. I believe Simpson was flattered by the attention and liked the dinners, gifts, parties, and social position it gave her to be recognized as a friend/companion of the Prince of Wales. She expected the attention to continue until Edward got tired of her....then he would move on to another interest and she could return to her life and her marriage. But that didn't happen. Edward became obsessed with her....spending more and more money on her, demanding more and more of her time, calling multiple times a day, demanding her attention......   The situation rapidly got out of control, became a public scandal, and then there was no way for Wallis to get out of it. She played a game with very powerful people and she lost. It doesn't change the fact that she was willing to play the game....she was married,but carried on a very public relationship with Edward anyway. She loved the money and the social standing. So, she was no saint. But she wasn't a complete devil woman either. She was portrayed that way because at the time women were not supposed to be strong, intelligent, or independent.

I enjoyed this book. Pasternak definitely did a lot of in-depth research. She quotes news reports, personal letters, interviews with friends of Wallis, Edward and others, letters from government officials, royal letters and documents, etc. At one point she quotes a member of the royal family as saying that it wasn't Simpson they despised, but Edward.

So interesting! I'm going to read it a second time, and then re-watch some documentaries I've seen on the affair and the aftermath, and come out with a much more informed, fair opinion on Edward's abdication. I feel guilty for believing that Simpson was a horrid person who jumped above her class and nearly toppled the monarchy....that was unfair and uninformed. I'm not sure I'm willing to believe that Edward was a complete weak-willed, narcissistic ninny though until I read more and weigh out the facts. I do realize now that Simpson might have been a pawn in a much bigger game and didn't realize it until it was too late....then she had to follow through.

I'm definitely going to read more by this author. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

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

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

REVIEW: Spooky Libraries

Spooky Libraries
Author: Jessica Rudolph

Spooky Libraries is part of the Tiptoe Into Spooky Places Series. There are 16 books in the series, transporting kids to all sorts of scary places like mummy tombs, horrific hotels, and haunted locations. Fun! I love spooky stories....even children's when my library added this book, I just had to read it! I'm glad I did.

Each page is nicely illustrated with full color photos and artwork. The book is visually appealing so it might be a great book to entice reluctant readers to enjoy reading. In the back of the book is a glossary of ghostly terms used in the stories, a short bibliography, a suggested reading list and a weblink for kids who want to learn more about ghostly topics. This book -- and series -- could easily be used in a classroom as a writing prompt, group reading, solo reading or just a fun activity.

All of the stories are age appropriate for elementary to middle grade students. The stories are spooky but not overly scary.

I'm definitely going to read more in this series, and buy a book or two to send my grand kids at Halloween!

Monday, March 4, 2019

REVIEW: What Makes a Mammal a Mammal?

What Makes a Mammal a Mammal?
Author: Andi Cann

As a grandma, mom and former home-school teacher, I am always looking for great books for kids. I absolutely love the Animal Class series by Andi Cann! It combines age appropriate information and full-color photos to teach the different classes of animals.

What Makes a Mammal a Mammal is all guessed it....mammals!! I love the front cover....that goat is just too cute! Similar photos are sprinkled on every page....and will definitely draw the attention of even very young children. The information presented is completely age appropriate and simple.

This series could definitely be used in a preschool or elementary classroom or home-school. It would be nice supplementary reading for lessons on animals, or before a field trip to the zoo. Reluctant early readers would enjoy all the photos, and the pages use a nice big font and few words.

Great book! I'm going to buy this series for my youngest grandson. Right now he will love the pictures! Later he will learn all about the different kinds of animals!

Andi Cann has written many books for children. I'm sure I will be reviewing more by her as I search out interesting, great books for the grandkids!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

REVIEW: Butterfly Boy

Butterfly Boy
Author: Mary Hiker

I love reading cozy mysteries set in Western NC where I live. :) Add in a cute dog plus an interesting mystery plot and I'm hooked! I think I have found a new favorite cozy series!

Butterfly Boy is the first book in the Avery Barks series. There are 10 books and a couple short stories in this series so far. Avery is a dog trainer and a search & rescue volunteer. Her best buddy is Chevy, her golden retriever.  In this first mystery, Avery & Chevy come across a dead body on her neighbor's property. That's bad enough....but add in the fact the dead man got her fired from her job and has her initials written on his forehead in sharpie marker.....   Avery might just be in hot water with local law enforcement!

I love Chevy's antics. He would rather chase butterflies and love everyone he sees rather than be trained as a SAR dog. Avery is a likable main character. She's an outdoor enthusiast and dog lover. She definitely uses her wits to get out of tough situations!

All in all, a cute, enjoyable cozy mystery! Butterfly Boy is a quick read at 69 pages, but that doesn't mean the story is rushed or simple. There's a lot packed into those 69 pages! The mystery isn't complex, but still enjoyable. I like the background theme of dog training and SAR. And I really love the Western NC setting! My favorite side character in this story has to be Charlie Ham -- the old man who is called Old Man Crash because he runs his truck into everything. Fences, parked cars....doesn't matter. Charlie drives into them. :) Made me smile.

Mary Hiker also writes the Shady Springs Mysteries and Miss Fortune series. I will definitely be reading more by this author! This first book was a fun, entertaining read! Plus what a cute cover! It's hard not to love a golden....even when he's only a character in a book! :)

Saturday, March 2, 2019

REVIEW: This Fallen Prey

This Fallen Prey
Author: Kelley Armstrong

This Fallen Prey is the 3rd book in the Rockton series. I just love the premise of this series! Rockton is a town in the wilderness of Canada. It's completely off the outside communication, no power, no nonsense. Tucked into the dense forest and camouflaged so it can't be seen by passing airplanes, Rockton is perfect for people who want to -- or need to -- disappear for a few years. People pay the corporation that funds Rockton a lot of money for the privilege. Casey Duncan, a former detective and resident of Rockton, is concerned at the growing number of problematic residents the corporation is sending. Criminals, rapists.....and now....a serial killer. When an airplane lands unannounced at Rockton to dump off a suspected serial killer with instructions to keep him as a prisoner until further notice, it causes no end of worry and trouble for Casey, her sheriff boyfriend and the residents of Rockton.

I loved this book! I've enjoyed this entire series so far. Each book is better than the last. The action started right at the beginning of This Fallen Prey and kept going right up to the ending. Lots of suspense and twisty plot surprises, as usual.

I like Casey Duncan as a main character. She has flaws....she murdered a man in her past....but she works hard to help the residents of Rockton. Casey is intelligent, strong and feisty when necessary. She has to be to survive in Rockton!

I recommend reading this series in order to fully understand the plots and characters.

Great series! Moving on to the 4th book in the series, Watcher in the Woods. Can't wait to find out what the residents of Rockton will be facing next!

Friday, March 1, 2019

REVIEW: Cookin' the Books

Cookin' the Books
Author: Amy Patricia Meade

Letitia "Tish'' Tarragon is preparing to open her new business, a restaurant and catering business with a literary flair. Her first catering job is a last-minute one. She's hired to cater the Hobson Glen, VA annual library fundraiser. The caterer hired by director Binnie Broderick cancelled at the last minute. Tish has 3 weeks to plan and execute a 3-course meal and cocktails for 300+ guests. Turns out the meal executes the library director. Binnie Broderick drops dead, plopping face first into her plate of prime rib at the event. With her business and reputation on the line, Tish investigates to find out who offed the rude, unpopular library director.

This is a nice start to a new cozy mystery series. I like the characters and the background theme. I found myself wishing Cookin' the Books was a real restaurant! I love the idea of an eatery with a lending library on the front porch. Patrons can read while eating, and if they want to take the book home they can purchase it or leave a book on the shelf to replace it. Neat idea!! Some of the recipes and cakes described in the book sound so fun! I would love a catered dinner with courses like For Whom the Stuffed Bell Peppers Toll on the menu!! :)

The mystery moved along at a nice pace. There were plenty of quirky interesting characters and suspects. The ending wasn't a big surprise, but I liked that there was more to it than a melodramatic reveal and arrest scene. Cozies can get a bit tropey at the end sometimes....this one offered something a bit different.

I will definitely be reading more of this series! Amy Patricia Meade also writes the Marjorie McClelland series and several other books. I have her Rosie the Riveter mystery, Don't Die Under the Apple Tree, at the top of my TBR pile!

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