Monday, September 30, 2019

REVIEW: The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking

The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking
Author: Leigh Perry

Georgia is an adjunct English professor with a secret. She has a skeleton in her closet....literally. Her buddy Sid is a skeleton. He walks. He talks. He gets into mischief. And he's been her best friend since childhood. Georgia keeps her bony best buddy a secret from everyone outside her family. Other people might be more than a bit freaked out by a living skeleton, no matter how sweet and funny he is.

It's the holiday season and Georgia's family has gathered for Christmas Things are great....until Byron the Dog gets loose. When the dog comes back, he is carrying a femur in his mouth. And Sid isn't missing one.....  In fact, the rest of the skeleton is in a nearby vacant lot. Sid & Georgia are on the case to clear this cold case before one of her coworkers goes down for murder.

I love this series! Sid is awesome....and the humor just makes this such a fun series to read! The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking is the sixth book in this series, and I have to say my favorite one so far! This series seems to get better with each book....   Some nice character development in this book. The mystery is engaging and moves at a nice pace. There are plenty of suspects and twists in the story. It definitely kept my attention the entire time.

I'm definitely eagerly awaiting the next book in this series! Always an entertaining read!

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

Sunday, September 29, 2019

REVIEW: Christmas Cocoa Murder

Christmas Cocoa Murder
Authors: Carlene O'Connor, Maddie Day & Alex Erickson

I love holiday theme cozy novella collections! I read every one I can get my hands on. Not only are they cute, quick holiday theme stories, but it's a great way to find new authors/series to add to my tbr!

Christmas Cocoa Murder gathers 3 Christmas theme stories from different popular series. One series I have never read before, and the other two I've read one or two of the books. I'm definitely moving all 3 series up my tbr stack because I enjoyed this entire book!

This collection includes:

Christmas Cocoa Murder - This novella is set in Carlene O'Connor's Irish Village Mystery series. Main character Siobhan plans a quiet Christmas with her siblings, but someone kills santa in a dunk tank filled with cocoa. She's on the case to find out why someone murdered the eccentric man playing santa claus.

I have never read any of the books in the Irish Village Mystery series. I enjoyed Siobhan as a main character. Intelligent, funny and witty....just an enjoyable character! I like the setting as well. The mystery was solid and kept my attention. There are 4 books in this series with a fifth, Murder in an Irish Cottage, coming out in February 2020. I will definitely be reading this series!

Christmas Cocoa and a Corpse - I have read one book in Maddie Day's Country Store Mystery series. This novella definitely renewed my interest in reading the entire series!

Robbie Jordan gets pulled into a murder case when a local businessman drops dead after drinking her cocoa. Was the cocoa poisoned or did Cocoa the dog (a cute chocolate lab found with the body) have something to do with it? I thought it was really cute that the dog's name was Cocoa. Definitely made me smile. :) Cute way to tie in with the theme of this story collection!

I like Maddie Day's writing style. This was an entertaining story that definitely makes me want to read this entire series. I'm not sure why I never read more than one -- probably just a matter of my ponderous TBR pile. I will definitely be reading more of this series.

The Country Store Mystery series has six books so far, with a seventh, Nacho Average Murder, coming out in July 2020.

Death By Hot Cocoa - I have read a couple books in the Bookstore Cafe Mystery series by Alex Erickson and enjoyed them. So I happily read this novella! Krissy Hancock and her bestie are excited about trying a local Christmas theme escape room experience. But things get serious when they find the attraction's host dead in a puddle of cocoa. Yikes! Who offed the host and why?? I'm a sucker for locked-room type stories, so this was my favorite story in the collection. And it definitely has me wanting to finish reading this series!

This is a very enjoyable Christmas themed cozy collection. I'm definitely moving all 3 series by these authors up on my to-read list! And even though it isn't even fall yet as I write this, I enjoyed reading Christmas theme stories! Made me crave cocoa and Christmas music!

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

Saturday, September 28, 2019

REVIEW: Have Yourself a Beary Little Murder

Have Yourself a Beary Little Murder
Author: Meg Macy

Sasha Silverman and her family are gearing up for the busy holiday season in Silver Hollow. Not only do they have the Annual Tree Lighting  and the Festival of Lights Parade, but Silver Bear Shop won a Teddy Bear Keepsake contest with their entry, Beary Potter. The theme of their sales promotion for the new bear is "The Magic of Christmas.'' Sales are brisk, so the holiday season is going to be busy, busy, busy. It's the day of the lighting and parade...the kickoff of the annual Christmas season. Sasha's mom is coordinating the events. Everything is going perfectly until the parade mascot, Santa Bear, doesn't show up on time. The mayor, Cal Bloom, is supposed to greet the kids, pass out candy and lead the parade.....but the holiday bear is a no-show. Imagine the shock when Sasha and her mother discover the mayor dead -- in the bear suit -- on a park bench. Can Sasha and her group of gossipy pals in Silver Hollow discover who killed the mayor in time to save the holiday season?

I have always liked teddy bears, so I love this cute, cozy mystery series! Have Yourself a Beary Little Murder is the 3rd book in the Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear Mystery series. I enjoyed this story just as much as the first two! I couldn't help but feel very sorry for Sasha's mom. She worked so hard to coordinate the huge town event to kick off the holidays....and then someone murders the parade mascot. Oh my....that would be awful!!! Sorry bear is dead. Yikes!

The mystery moved along at a nice pace and there were plenty of suspects and some surprises to keep my interest going. The front cover is incredibly cute as usual. I like Sasha as a main character. She loves her job and her family and is intelligent, determined and skilled at sleuthing. The quirky side characters make this series a fun one to read, along with the teddy bear background theme. The bears don't overpower the mystery part of the plot.....they just add in a splash of cuteness.

Enjoyable, cute read! I will definitely be eagerly awaiting the next book!

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

Friday, September 27, 2019

REVIEW: Christmas Cow Bells

Christmas Cow Bells
Author: Mollie Cox Bryan

Brynn MacAlister moved to Shenandoah Springs, VA to start her dream business....a micro dairy farm. The old rectory building and its surrounding land is perfect for her and her 3 Red Devon cows, Petunia, Buttercup and Marigold. The locals are a bit standoffish. Most of then don't like change. Brynn is seen as a newcomer, along with her next door neighbor, Nancy. Nancy wants to remodel the Old Glebe Church into a farmers market. Local pushback turns to murder when the old church burns to the ground one night and Nancy dies from her injuries. When strange things start happening at Brynn's Buttermilk Creek Farm, she suspects someone is trying to scare her away. Is the fear of change enough to move a local to murder? And is she next? Brynn is determined to find out what happened to her neighbor and friend.

The front cover for this first book in the Buttermilk Creek Farm series is just too cute! The three cows are the stars of the show...with a santa hat and holiday garland even! :) Moo! I wish Brynn's LDG (livestock guardian dog) had been on the cover though! Maybe Freckles will make the next cover!

Great start to a new cozy mystery series by Mollie Cox Bryan! Having read her Cora Crafts series previously, I knew I liked her writing style already. But Christmas Cow Bells mystery caught me by surprise. Even the cows have personality! The characters are quirky rural villagers.....a whole spectrum of different types. Brynn is an interesting, intelligent and determined main character. She loves her farm, her cows and her new friends, and faces down local opposition with strength and wit. And, I love the background theme of cheesemaking and micro farming. The mystery progressed at a nice pace with plenty of suspects and twists. The cheesemaking theme did not overpower the mystery elements but added a nice rural farm feeling to the story. I will definitely be eagerly awaiting the next book in the Buttermilk Creek Farm series!

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

Thursday, September 26, 2019

REVIEW: Murder in the First Edition

Murder in the First Edition
Author: Lauren Elliott

Addie Greyborne is excited about the upcoming charity auction. She has an 1843 edition of Dickens' A Christmas Carol to add to the auction. Appraised at five figures, the book should raise a lot of money to help build the pediatric wing at the hospital! But things quickly get complicated....not only does the father of her former fiance show up in town causing problems, but the coordinator of the auction is murdered. And....the Dickens book is stolen! Once again, Addie finds herself doing some amateur sleuthing to get to the bottom of this latest killing.

I enjoyed this latest installment in this series. Murder in the First Edition is the 3rd book in the Beyond the Page Bookstore Mysteries. Each book brings a bit more character development for Addie. She's still dealing with the ghosts of her past. I hope the deceased fiance plot angle wraps up and the series moves on.....after 3 books, I'm growing just a bit tired of the dead fiance thing. And it seems a love triangle type situation is building....cozies use that angle a bit too much. I hope it doesn't become a main plot point. But other than those two little twinges of cozy concern for this series, I enjoy each book! Addie is an interesting main character and there are plenty of quirky side characters to keep the books interesting. The mystery progressed at a nice pace with plenty of suspects and twists to keep my attention. This mystery was a bit more complex than the first two in the series -- very entertaining!

I can't wait for the next book in this series! Luckily, it isn't too long of a wait. Book #4, Proof of Murder, is set to come out in April 2020!

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

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

REVIEW: Buried in the Stacks

Buried in the Stacks
Author: Allison Brook

I enjoy the Haunted Library cozy series. The idea of a librarian that not only supplies the local library cat, but also gets visited at work by the resident ghost is cute and entertaining. Why shouldn't a library be haunted by a prior librarian? That's real dedication to a career! Evelyn Havers loved the library, so why shouldn't she stick around? The ghost is woven into the plot so well in each book that the paranormal portion of the plot isn't cheesy or over-the-top....just fun. I like the quirky Clover Ridge side characters and the fact that it took awhile for locals to accept the "new girl.'' So true.....small towns can be so clique-ish. "You're not from around here'' really is a thing. I would imagine it's even more so when dead bodies start stacking up. The minute Carrie Singleton showed up in Clover Ridge....cue the murders. I can see why the local police started giving her some serious side eye from the start!

Buried in the Stacks is the 3rd mystery in the series. A local group bought a house to help local homeless people have shelter in the winter. During the day, the homeless have taken to hanging out at the library. There have been some altercations in the reading room and the locals seem nervous around the homeless. It's becoming a bit of a volatile situation. Carrie is being kept busy by her new position as Sunshine Delegate -- the library employee who visits sick and hospitalized library employees. When her least favorite co-worker is injured in a fall, she gets sucked into delivering her books at home and listening to her pain-killer induced rant about being afraid of her husband, who pushed her down causing her injury. Later when the woman is killed in a car accident, it's pretty evident she was run off the road. Carrie learns her coworker was not just a hard person to work with, but she had some pretty bad behavior in her personal life as well. Behavior that might explain why she was killed. The case might also solve the question of who killed resident library ghost Evelyn as well....   Despite not liking the deceased much, Carrie is on the case.....again.

This is another well-written, entertaining story in this series. I like the character development in each book. Carrie has come a long way! And so have the residents of Clover Ridge. I was a bit surprised at the murder victim in this newest story.....but I can't say I will miss the character. There is a bit of a cliff hanger at the end of this book.....Carrie's life is about to get a bit...complicated for awhile. :) Makes me sad I have to wait awhile to read the next book in this series!

I think the side plot of a small town dealing with homelessness was interesting and so true. It isn't a large city problem happens everywhere.

Allison Brook is a pseudonym for author Marilyn Levinson. Levinson has written several mystery novels....I will fill in the time til the next Haunted Library mystery by reading more of her books! :)

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

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

REVIEW: By the Feet of Men

By the Feet of Men
Author: Grant Price

This book caught me by surprise. I enjoy dystopian stories, but they tend to follow a formula, especially if they deal with destruction of the planet by humanity's bad choices or climate change. But this story of the aftermath of the fall of civilization really grabbed my attention immediately and kept it until the final page. The story is well-written and not formulaic or melodramatic. The characters and world are well-developed and believable.

The world is completely different since The Change. Europe was decimated and what is left of humanity scrabbles for scraps in the dirt. Some even resort to murder and cannibalism to survive. A group called The Korporation has fortified walls that protect the largest sources of fresh water and supplies. Outside the walled border, runners drive up and down roads delivering supplies to settlements and taking what payment they can get -- water, supplies, food. It's a hard life. But, a settlement in Italy has been working to develop a machine that could reverse the damage to the planet and climate, but they need help and supplies to finish the project. The Koalition wants to seize the machine and prevent it from being used. A group of runners is willing to help....but they will face extreme odds. It's a long trip....and the forces of The Koalition want to stop them.

This story has a lot of action. It's definitely never boring. It paints a bleak picture of a planet and civilization destroyed by mismanagement and greed. Very enjoyable read! I will definitely be reading more by this author!

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

Monday, September 23, 2019

REVIEW: Haunted House Murder

Haunted House Murder
Authors: Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis & Barbara Ross

I love the Christmas theme cozy mystery novellas that come out every holiday season. This year, I spied this one -- Halloween theme! Oh yeah -- gotta read it! :) It was not a difficult decision. Pretty much instantaneous.

Haunted House Murder gathers 3 cozy short mysteries: Haunted House Murder featuring Lucy Stone; Death by Haunted House, featuring characters from the Food & Cocktails series; and, Hallowed Out, an addition to the Main Clambake Mystery series. While I have read some of the Lucy Stone books, the Food & Cocktail and Maine Clambake series were both new to me. After reading these novellas, I'm going to check out both of those series. I liked the characters, the plot/writing style, and the mysteries were entertaining. My favorite of the was Hallowed Out. At first I thought a seafood themed cozy might be a bit weird....but the characters are quirky and fun and I enjoyed the story. :)

All in all, a fun Halloween theme cozy story collection. A quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed! I will be checking out more from all 3 authors!

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

Sunday, September 22, 2019

REVIEW: The Best Horror of the Year Volume 11

The Best Horror of the Year Volume 11
Authors: Various
Editor: Ellen Datlow

Fall is my favorite season and Halloween is my favorite holiday. Every year as summer turns to autumn, I start reading all the horror novels and short stories I can get my hands on. I sit out on my porch on cool fall evenings reading whatever chilling, spooky bit of fiction (or even non-fiction) has come to hand. This year, my horror season started early as I discovered story anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow. did I miss these?? Datlow has been editing fantasy, sci-fi and horror anthologies for 25 years. I am SO glad that I received a review copy of this book because my TBR pile has grown exponentially in my three favorite genres!

The Best Horror of the Year Volume 11 gathers 25 stories Some of the authors were familar favorites (like Joe Hill for example) and others were new to me (Carly Holmes, Laird Barron). This is a varied, outstanding collection of horror fiction! There wasn't a single story I didn't like. Some were more to my taste than others....but the joy of a story anthology is that it's a collection of differing writing styles and flavors. I read this story collection slowly, giving myself time to enjoy it. One or two stories a night...took time to read up on the authors....and smiled as my TBR list got a lot larger. I added several books and stories by the featured authors to my must-read list, as well as every anthology edited by Ellen Datlow.  :) I will be kept in horror, fantasy and sci-fi bliss for the foreseeable future!

At the back of the book there is also an "honorable mention'' list for stories that almost made the cut for this anthology....I'm going to find those stories or other works by those authors and read those as well!

My library has several of the back volumes of this series as audio books! I'm so excited! I can have some outstanding horror read to me! Woot! :)

Great book! Full stars from me!

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

Saturday, September 21, 2019

REVIEW: Echoes

Authors: Various
Editor: Ellen Datlow

I love ghost stories! One of my favorite fall pastimes is to sit out on my porch after sunset and read ghostly tales on my ipad for awhile. The woods across the street and quietness of our neighborhood just lend a great atmosphere to a bit of horror. Even though it isn't quite fall yet, I pushed the season this year and started my porch reading early. Cup of coffee. Neighbor's cat. Awesome book of ghost stories. Perfect!

Ellen Datlow collected 30 stories for Echoes. This collection of stories is varied and outstanding! Some of the author's names I recognized (Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Hoffman) and others were new to me (John Langan, A.C. Wise). I'm not going to include a long list of all the writers who contributed to the anthology. But I will say that there was not a single story that I didn't enjoy. I savored this collection, only reading one or two stories a night. And I'm buying a copy for my keeper shelf. I will enjoy re-reading this anthology! My favorite? The Tree of Self-Knowledge by Stephen Graham Jones. But all the stores are good!

This is the first story collection edited by Datlow that I've read. I'm so glad I did because not only were the stories good....but I have significantly added to my TBR list! Datlow has edited so many story collections (and my library offers many of them on its digital site!) that I will be kept in awesome short fantasy, science fiction, and horror for a long time! Woot!!

Awesome collection! Full stars from me! :)

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this story anthology from Saga Press via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

Friday, September 20, 2019

REVIEW: The Ventriloquists

The Ventriloquists
Author: E. R. Ramzipoor

In 1943 Brussels, the Nazis have taken over. Helene is 12 years old. She's an orphan who survives by disguising herself as boy. She sells newspapers. Her life changes when she is drawn into a secret underground network that publishes dissident anti-nazi news. When a high-ranking Nazi officer discovers the group, he demands that they print pro-Nazi propaganda or face death. The group decides to pretend to comply, while actually publishing satire against the Nazi occupation.

While I enjoyed the characters, the history and the premise of people willing to risk their lives to fool the Nazis and resist occupation....this book was a difficult read for me. I just couldn't seem to connect with the story. I'm not sure what caused the disconnect though. The book is well written. The characters are complex. The plot is good. I just....didn't really like this book. I think it's just a case of not every story is for every reader. I enjoy WWII history, both non-fiction and historical fiction. I just didn't get sucked into this story. I read every word.....but it just wasn't a story for me.

I would definitely read more by this author. And I might pick this book up again in the future and see if I like it better after a second read.

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

Thursday, September 19, 2019

REVIEW: Silent Night, Deadly Night

Silent Night, Deadly Night
Author: Vicki Delany

The busy season is getting started in Rudolph, NY where it's Christmas-time all year around. Things in town start picking up steam in the days before Thanksgiving and don't let up one bit til after New Year's Day. Merry Wilkinson is busy with her shop, Mrs. Claus' Treasures, but she's also helping her mother with a reunion of her college friends. It's the first time the entire group has been together in decades....but the visit is a disaster. The old friends constantly bicker among themselves and make snide comments to each other. It gets steadily worse until one of them is poisoned at dinner...and dies. Now it's not just personality conflicts....but murder. Merry is on the case to find out which one of the old friends is a killer.....

I enjoy this series! I love the holidays, and a cozy series centered around a town that celebrates the season all year around is just fun! What's not to love about a town where Main Street is actually named Jingle Bell Lane? So cute!

Silent Night, Deadly Night is the 4th book in Year-Round Christmas Mystery series. The story kept my attention from beginning to end. The mystery progressed at a nice pace and had me guessing about the killer's identity and motive. I wasn't too surprised at the ending/reveal....but felt satisfied. All in all, a very enjoyable cozy mystery!

Vicki Delany also writes several other mystery series including the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mysteries and the Klondike Mystery series. I will definitely keep reading the Year-Around Christmas Mystery books. Quirky, enjoyable characters.....a cute dog....and Christmas. :) Love it!

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

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

REVIEW: 100 Word Horrors - An Anthology of Horror Drabbles

100 Word Horrors - An Anthology of Horror Drabbles
Author: Various
Compiled by: Kevin J. Kennedy

Well, I'm proud to announce that even at 50+, I still learn something new (often more than one thing) every day. Yesterday I learned this word: Drabble. A drabble is a piece of fiction writing that is exactly 100 words long. And I will make up a word of my own to describe this book:  Drabblicious!

I went shopping with my husband yesterday. We ventured forth on an all-day adventure to a nearby large city to pick up monthly staples. The last stop....the game store....for card sleeves (3 new Legendary expansions needed sleeves before we could play. Yeah...I know...Nerd Alert and all that). But I digress....   I was worn out so I sat in the car and started reading this book on my phone. Little horror snippets.....some disturbing, some creepy, others gross. But all entertaining! Great quick read! All of the contributors did a marvelous job of conveying true horror in just 100 words. So much fun to read! And definitely a great book to read as Fall approaches. Halloween is my favorite holiday....and this book did a great job kicking off the pre-Halloween season for me!

This is the first book/collection offered by Kevin J.  Kennedy that I have read. I'm definitely going to read more! He has several other horror collections including Collected Christmas Horror Shorts, Carnival of Horror, and (the one I'm going to read next) Collected Halloween Horror Shorts. I will be happily set up with great short horror fiction for quite some time. Thanks Kevin! :)

The front cover art for this book is just awesome! :)

And I'm going to try my hand at writing some drabbles. I think leading up to Halloween I'm going to challenge my family and friends to write some scary shorts and share them.....winner announced at our annual Halloween party (with a cool prize of course -- a paperback copy of this book!)

Horror enthusiasts -- Support Indy Authors!  This book is available at several online bookseller sites (Wordery, B&N, and Amazon all have it just to name a few) and check with your local brick & mortar....they can probably order a copy! It is listed on Kindle Unlimited as well. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

REVIEW: Hippie Cult Leader

Hippie Cult Leader: The Last Words of Charles Manson
Author: James Buddy Day

I'm a true crime documentary enthusiast. I watch more than my share of DiscoveryID and True Crime YouTube Channels. I listen to true crime podcasts all the time. And, I read many, many related books and websites. Not to mention that my fiction library is mostly mystery novels. Given all of that -- of course I'm going to read a book about Charlie Manson's last interviews before he died in 2017!

Before I even opened this book, I was well aware that most of the interviews/quotes would be in Charlie-speak.  I remember watching the 1988 interview with Geraldo Rivera where Charlie went into some of the strangest rants and bizarre behavior I have ever seen. The man was crazy....totally Bat-S crazy. So, I went into this book with the knowledge that nothing this man said would make any sense.

And I was right.

I'm glad I read this book. I can see the benefit/interest in writing about Manson's last thoughts about his past, the trial, his incarceration, and the murders.....even if everything that popped out of that man's mouth was pure crazy. Kudos to James Buddy Day for managing to write an interesting, coherent book about Manson, despite the man himself making very little sense. Manson's main point: He wasn't present during the murders, stated he didn't directly order the murders, so he wasn't guilty of any crime. Whatever you say, Charlie.

Very informative. This book doesn't pull any punches -- the murders are outlined in detail. Portions of this book are not for the faint of heart. If you can't handle descriptions of what his groupies did, Charlie's truth and strange rants....then pass this one by. It gets down to the dirt....or maybe blood is a better word in this case.

I enjoyed this book. I would definitely read more by this author. But I think I will pass on more Charlie rants.....this book outlines his last interviews.'s a good place to stop giving the man any space in my head. Bye, Charlie. Can't say I'm glad you are gone.

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

Monday, September 16, 2019

REVIEW: Hellrider

Author: JG Faherty

Eddie Ryder might have been a snitch....but he didn't deserve to be burned to death by the Hell Riders. The members of the biker gang were once his friends, but now he wants to kill them all. But...being dead and all....he has to learn how to go from just floating around to handing out justice. Violent justice.

As I read this book, I could see this being a really fun, slightly cheesy, late night horror movie. I would watch it! I was even doing the casting in my head......   For Eddie, I would cast Austin Amelio (played Dwight on The Walking Dead). I even heard the dialoge in his voice as I read. :)

Although the plot was really nothing new, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There are a few rough scenes involving adult situations (rape, sodomy, violent murder) and some rough language, so this book is not for the faint of heart (or kids). Those scenes are not all that graphic....but the subject matter is there. Be aware. If that type of violence in horror stories is not for you.....skip this one.

Quick read. Entertaining plot. Interesting take on the ghost-seeks-revenge storyline. This is the first book by this author that I have read, but he has written many, many horror novels and stories. I will definitely be reading more of them!

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

Sunday, September 15, 2019

REVIEW: The Hollow Kingdom

The Hollow Kingdom
Author: Kira Jane Buxton

What an incredibly creative and bizarre take on the zombie apocalypse! I'm not going to beat around the bush -- I love this book!

S.T. (short for shit turd) is a happy domesticated crow. The world has his human, Big Jim, all the cheetos he can eat, and a great dog named Dennis for him to annoy. His life is perfect. Until.....

Big Jim's eyeball falls out. And he starts acting strange. Then ALL the people start acting strange. Even a quick fly to CVS for things to help isn't enough to fix the problem at good ol' S.T. hits the road with his pal, Dennis, to find out what's going on. What's left for a crow who really liked being a pet and for his hound dog sidekick once human beings are gone? What comes after? And....are there still cheetos?

All right -- before I get much further -- this book has cussing. Be aware and pass it by if this bothers you. This is not a book for's for adults who want a fun romp through the zombified end of humanity and the aftermath. If you are ok with humans being referred to as MoFos, a crow named Shit Turd, and some F-bombs and other various colorful metaphors....then pick up this book and enjoy zombies from a bird's eye view.

My favorite character in the entire book (despite only being in a couple pages) is Genghis Cat. I laughed so hard I snorted. :)

So funny, creative and totally entertaining. Any book that makes me snort....and laugh....and read passages to my husband....gets full stars from me. I will definitely read more by this author! :)

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

Saturday, September 14, 2019

REVIEW: And Then They Were Doomed

And Then They Were Doomed
Author: Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

Zoe Zola receives a strange black-edged invitation to an Agatha Christie symposium. Its appearance brings back horrible memories from her past. She decides to go and confront her personal demons -- and horrible relatives, if they are behind the invite -- so she can finally move on with her life. The event is at a strange, isolated hunting lodge. Zoe is one of 10 speakers attending the event. It isn't lost on her that each one seems to have something in common with characters from And Then There Were None, a famous Christie novel. But she's stuck and can't leave -- the road is washed out. When presenters start disappearing, Zoe fears she will be next. Will Jenny Weston arrive before Zoe becomes a victim?

I love the fact that Zoe is the main character in this 4th book in the Little Library Mysteries series! She is my favorite character in the series and is usually just a side plot enhancer. This time she is in the forefront, dealing with a spooky situation in the middle of nowhere. I liked how the plot linked up here and there with Christie's famous story. I was on the edge of my seat when presenters started to disappear......   Yikes!

Nice character development in this latest book. I still don't fully like Jenny Weston....she's just a bit too flighty and whiny for me. I did love the ending of the story. I sort of had an idea what it might be...but the actual end was a surprise. Nicely done!

Enjoyable story! It definitely kept my attention from start to finish. I will be eagerly awaiting the next book in this series.

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

Friday, September 13, 2019

REVIEW: The Family Friendly Keto Instant Pot Cookbook

The Family Friendly Keto Instant Pot Cookbook
Author: Anna Hunley

I love my Instant Pot! I've only had it a little over a month, but use it daily. It replaced my crock pots, my stovetop pressure cooker, yogurt maker and vegetable steamer. It's easy to use and so versatile. I'm always looking for new recipes and ways to use my IP, so I jumped right on this cookbook. We don't follow the Keto diet but we do stick to a low carb diet so the recipes in this book are perfect!

The recipes in this book are varied and easy to make. It doesn't require being an Instant Pot or Keto expert. There are introductory chapters on both. The explanations of the diet and how to use an IP are not lengthy....just a bit of detail to help beginners. From dough made from mozzarella cheese to almond flour cinnamon coffee cake there are many grain carb replacement ideas in this cookbook! For me, that is a plus. I try to use almond or coconut flour in place of wheat or other grains. So glad I can now bake coffee cake in my IP! The recipes range from IP stand-bys like egg bites and chili to more adventurous foods like stuffed chicken breasts and lobster tails.

The cooking directions are simple. I like the page layout. Each recipe has the ingredients list on the left, followed by any IP accessories required (like a trivet, egg mold, springform pan, etc). Cooking instructions are clear and concise. Macro information for those following the Keto diet are at the bottom of each recipe page. There are many full color photos throughout.

I am definitely ordering a copy of this book for my cookbook collection!

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

Thursday, September 12, 2019

REVIEW: Pride, Prejudice and Poison

Pride, Prejudice and Poison
Author: Elizabeth Blake

The Jane Austen Society in Kirbymoorside is all in uproar. Some older members of the society want to stick with rules and ceremony, while newer members don't mesh with the current society president. Silvia is rude and a total control freak. Every meeting descends into petty arguments and insults. Erin Coleridge doesn't enjoy the drama. She just wants to enjoy running her used book shop in the village. The drama kicks up a notch when a society member is murdered. Erin jumps in to do a little sleuthing to clear a friend of suspicion.

I like the quirky characters in this first book of the Jane Austen Society Mystery series. I did feel a bit sorry for most of the members of the Austen Society as their meetings descended into complete chaos. I did applaud the members who managed to sneak Jane Austen quotes in amid the in-fighting. At times, all the quotes and references did get to be a bit much....but it's all in fun when it's a cozy mystery. I just chalked it up to residents of Kirbymoorside being JA Superfans who love to pepper their conversation with literature references like my husband and I throw out random movie or Monty Python quotes.

Erin is an interesting main character. She just wants a peaceful countryside life running her bookshop and enjoying her cottage. But she's willing to sacrifice her peace to help a friend and put the village back to rights after a murder. The quirky village side characters really add to the story. The mystery moved along at a nice pace, peppered with lots of Jane Austen references. There are plenty of suspects and twists along the way. Nicely done!

All in all, an enjoyable cozy mystery. I'm always up for reading anything Jane Austen related. :) I will definitely read more books in this series.

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

REVIEW: Mulberry Mischief

Mulberry Mischief
Author: Sharon Farrow

It's almost Halloween in Oriole Point, MI and the town is gearing up for its Haunted Halloween Harvest Health Fair. Although Marlee Jacob thinks combining Halloween with a health fair is a bit weird, she's ready for the influx of tourists to the town. The leaves have turned and the weather is forecast to be perfect. The list of activities, speakers and other health-related workshops is outstanding, including a nationally recognized diet guru. Things start getting a bit strange when a local eccentric approaches Marlee asking for mulberries. Lots and lots of mulberries. Out of season. To protect her from danger. It gets even stranger when they find the dead, murdered body of a stranger that came to town asking questions. The body has an arrow sticking in it. And in the countdown to Halloween, the body count will be going up....

What a fun, Halloween theme cozy! This is the first book from the Berry Basket series that I've read, and it makes me want to backtrack and read the rest! The characters are quirky, the background Halloween theme is fun, and the mystery is interesting! Lots of suspects, hidden secrets, and twists. Nicely done! the end of the book....berry recipes, including some Halloween treats.

The front cover art is cute. It's what first caught my eye and made me want to read this book. Cozy mysteries always have the best covers!

Mulberry Mischief is the fourth book in the Berry Basket series. I was easily able to read and enjoy this book without first reading the other three books. But I am going to go back and read the first three books. This story was a fun read!

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

REVIEW: Joe Quinn's Poltergeist

Joe Quinn's Poltergeist
Author: David Almond

None of the boys believe Joe Quinn when he tells them about the poltergeist at his house. Davie starts to believe when he goes to the house and sees plates, food, tea cups and just about anything else fly through the air mysteriously. He isn't sure it's a might just be Joe or his mom throwing things, but he's still drawn to the story. Ever since his little sister died, Davie has been looking for some sort of meaning in things. Joe and his mom, a conflicted local priest, and a supposed poltergeist help Davie put his thoughts about the meaning of life, what might come after, and his dreams of the future into a more clear picture.

This story is a bit odd, but has a very deep meaning. I think perhaps the author is delving into his thoughts on his own life, emotions,  and ponderings about existence. I found it very thought provoking and maybe just a little bit disturbing. The artwork by Dave McKean is wonderful!

All in all, a very thought provoking read. I enjoyed it! I'd be interested in seeing more by David Almond...and definitely would love to see more of Dave McKean's art! This book was not what I expected at all....but an enjoyable surprise! I'm very glad I read this! Coming from a former Catholic background, it brought back some memories and provoked some deep thoughts.

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

Monday, September 9, 2019

REVIEW: The Doll Factory

The Doll Factory
Author: Elizabeth Macneal

So gothic! So darkly creepy-cool! I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

The story is set in 1850s Victorian London. Iris and her twin sister Rose work at Mrs. Salter's Doll Factory. But Iris wants more...  She isn't content with a life spent painting delicate porcelain dolls. Painting children's playthings or mourning dolls memorializing the dead isn't enough. Iris wants to be a professional artist. She meets two an artist who can help her fulfill her dream and another who will becoming completely obsessed with possessing her.....

Wow.....this book is dark, creepy and unputdownable! Total binge read....I stayed up half the night reading because I had to know what happened! I love old Hollywood movies...especially the gothic style horror movies made in the 50s & 60s. This story reminded me so much of those movies -- like House of Wax (the 1953 version, not the horrible re-make), Fall of the House of Usher, The Raven, etc. As I read, I imagined the movie version in my head.  Silas would be played by Vincent Price, of course, and Peter Lorre as Louis. Made for a great reading experience! I could even imagine the dialogue spoken in those two actors' unmistakable voices. Loved it!

Some portions of this story depict animal cruelty, mental illness and some disturbing imagery. Be prepared for it...   Parental guidance suggested before allowing younger teens to read this book. Just be aware it has some adult subjects, violent/graphic imagery and some harsh topics -- stalking, murder, etc.

The Doll Factory is Elizabeth Macneal's debut novel! I will definitely be looking for more from this new author! I see in the book blurb that the television rights have been sold to Buccaneer Media....will definitely be on the lookout for a film version (even if it can't have Price & Lorre!)

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Atria books via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. Warning: Book may cause sleep deprivation in lovers of gothic style horror. Enjoy! :)**

Sunday, September 8, 2019

REVIEW: The Warehouse

The Warehouse
Author: Rob Hart

This book is disturbing....but a great read!

America has been taken over by Cloud, a corporation that has control of the economy and the government. Free enterprise is gone.....most private business was destroyed by Cloud. There are few jobs and people will do anything to secure one. Everything is controlled by Cloud in one way or another. What was touted as an effort to improve the world has become a destroyer instead. How far will the corporation go to protect its dark secrets?

Obviously, this story is a thinly veiled horror/dystopian tale about a company like Amazon growing so powerful and all-encompassing that it destroys American society and the economy. This book is like an updated, more modern version of Orwell's 1984. The corporation is always watching. The corporation controls everything. And those who challenge the corporation disappear. All hail the corporation. It's a scary picture of what society might become.

As someone who grew up in pre-internet days, I see the drastic changes in our daily life, culture and economy since computers have pretty much become a necessity. Our social interactions are different. Our economy is different. Education is different. Nearly everything is different. While instant access to information is an awesome tool....some changes cause me concern. After finishing this book, I sat back and just let those thoughts run through my head. Are the changes a good thing? Or are all the changes causing more stress, more difficulty and a loss of freedom, rather than the freedom we all thought instant information would bring?

Thought provoking. Distressing. Mesmerizing. Great story! Enjoyed it! I will definitely read more by this author, even though his tale made me extremely uncomfortable. I think I need to read a cute story about a talking dog or something now.....gotta get this cautionary tale out of my head.

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

Saturday, September 7, 2019

REVIEW: Tidelands

Author: Philippa Gregory

It is 1648 and England is at war from within. The king has fled and Parliament has taken over. In the midst of civil war, the Tidelands at Sealsea Island are not just a mix of land and water, but also a mix of those loyal to the king and those supporting parliament. It's a turbulent time. Alinor goes to the church one night to look for the ghost of her husband, who disappeared at sea the year before. Instead, she meets a priest who is hiding and helps him, not realizing this act of kindness will bring about changes to the rest of her life. In a turbulent time, people begin whispering about traitors, witches and spies. Alinor has to survive the turbulent times, her own precarious position as neither a widow or a wife, and protect her children. It isn't an easy existence by any means.

This story starts out slowly as Philippa Gregory sets the scene and describes what living during those years were like. The details are so interesting and vibrant! Then the action kicked in and I was totally sucked into the story. The ending felt a bit abrupt but definitely has me eagerly awaiting the next book!

I found portions of this book hard to read. Not because of the author's writing, but because I felt so sorry for the main character. She lives in a time where women rely completely upon men for their support and place in society. A woman alone is suspect, and often a victim of all sorts of whispering and condemnation. Alinor trying to survive alone after the disappearance of her husband becomes a target.....and there is nothing she can do. How many women were arrested, tried, victimized, even executed for being alone, acting as a healer, being intelligent and outspoken?? It makes that entire period a difficult one for me to read about. Awesome book.....very difficult period in history.

What a turbulent time! Great start to a new series!

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

Friday, September 6, 2019

REVIEW: Old Bones

Old Bones
Author: Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

I'm a big fan of the Agent Pendergast novels by Lincoln & Child. The stories are always suspenseful and creepy-cool. That's why I jumped right on this first novel in a new spin-off series featuring Nora Kelly. Kelly appears in two prior Pendergast novels and as the main character in a prior stand alone novel, Thunderhead.

The Basics: Kelly is an archaeologist and museum curator. She is approached by historian Dr. Clive Benton about a lost camp site of the Donner Party. Promising the chance to excavate previously undisturbed remains of the ill-fated party who descended into madness and cannibalism while trapped by heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Benton also pulls Kelly in with the possibility of a stash of gold coins hidden at the site. Meanwhile, new FBI agent Corrie Swanson (another character from previous Pendergast novels -- Still Life With Crows & White Fire) is investigating grave robberies, one disappearance and a murder that seem related to a member of the Donner Party. When members of the group excavating the lost camp start dying, Kelly and Swanson work together to solve the case.

I loved this story! I liked Nora Kelly and Corrie Swanson when they appeared in the Pendergast series. Nice to see them getting a series of their own! Both are strong, intelligent women and they worked well together in this story. Pendergast does make an appearance at the end, but the investigation and action in this new novel is all Kelly & Swanson!

It isn't necessary to have read the Pendergast novels before Old Bones. The story really doesn't refer much to prior cases or characters from the Pendergast books.The story would still be enjoyable even with no knowledge of Pendergast or the prior cases Kelly and Swanson helped investigate. This book can stand on its own just fine.

Enjoyable read! I will definitely be reading more of this series! Happy to see two favorite characters from the Pendergast series get to branch out a bit on their own!

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

Thursday, September 5, 2019

REVIEW: Survivors of the Holocaust

Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children
Author: Kath Shackleton

This graphic novel tells the stories of six Jewish children who survived the Holocaust during World War II. Some were evacuated to England...others were hidden....and some were sent to concentration camps. Most were separated from their parents and never saw them again. It is amazing what children can survive. They are often stronger and more resilient than adults.

This book is moving and meaningful. The stories are truthful, but not too graphic for children to read. The art is fantastic. Due to the nature of the stories, I do recommend parental guidance for younger children. Death, starvation, internment, separation from family.....the subject matter is dark. But I think it's important that the events never be forgotten.

Although we are not Jewish, several members of my extended family who stayed in Germany when the rest emigrated to America were killed by the Nazis during the war. Most were killed for being Catholics who refused to embrace the Nazi regime. The stories in this book left me thinking about what my own family  members....and millions of others....endured. I can't even imagine how scared they must have been. It made for a very emotional reading experience for me. My children all grew up safe, well fed, loved and protected. A whole generation of children during the war did not. Bombs. Executions. Starvation. Gas chambers. It is important for there to be books like this, because if we don't allow it to be forgotten then maybe it won't happen again.

The artwork is fantastic. The stories emotional and hard-hitting. Wonderful book!

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

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

REVIEW: The Time For Murder is Meow

The Time for Murder is Meow
Author: T.C. LoTempio

Chishell McMillan moves from LA to Connecticut after her elderly aunt dies and leaves her a house and pet store. Chishell (or Shell for short) leaves behind an acting career and a failed love affair. Her fiance cheated on her with a scipt girl, creating all sorts of celebrity gossip. That's when she knew she needed to exit stage left and change her life. Connecticut, a small town, and running a pet store sounded perfect. She arrives in town just in time to have an altercation with the town's cantankerous, controlling old biddy. As if that isn't bad enough, she then discovers a dead body and is a suspect in a murder case. An old friend from her old life comes in to help her investigate before she's behind bars for a murder she didn't commit.

I loved the two Cat Rescue series books I read by T.C. LoTempio so jumped right on this new series. But I never really connected with Shell. I liked her friend and acting partner Gary better. Not sure why exactly. I just didn't "click'' with Shell.  At one point she threatens to "press charges'' about a situation that isn't really that big of a deal and not really something that really warrants a formal complaint. It felt like a bit of a contrived plot point to create animosity between two characters so that the plot could continue.....didn't really gel with me. I was like "File charges with who? And for what?" Just didn't work for me.

All in all, I liked the story. It just wasn't a "wow'' for me. The mystery followed the usual cozy formula...girl inherits property, moves to a new town, sees sexy cop, finds dead body, girl is suspect and investigates, etc etc etc. I've read many, many similar cozies. I did like the premise of a known actor being the main character. The cats were a plus -- love them both! And I like the quirky side characters. So, I liked it....didn't love it. I will definitely be reading the next book to see if with a little character development I might feel more on board with Shell.

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

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

REVIEW: A World Full of Spooky Stories

A World Full of Spooky Stories
Author: Angela McAllister
Illustrator: Madalina Andronic

This book is an entertaining and colorful collection of child-friendly spooky tales & folk lore from around the world. From familiar stories like Baba Yaga to ones completely new to me (The Girl Who Turned to Stone), I loved each and every story in this book!

The content and length of these stories are completely appropriate for middle grade students. Most of the tales are about two pages long and artwork accompanies each one. The illustrations are gorgeously bright and creative. The layout is easy to read and visually appealing. This would be a great book to coax reluctant readers to enjoy a book, or for supplemental reading in a classroom setting. Or....just "for fun'' reading for anyone who enjoys folk lore or slightly scary stories! The stories are not graphic or overly frightening.....just lightly creepy/strange.

Angela McAllister has written two other story collections - A Year Full of Stories: 52 Classic Stories from Around the World and A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories, plus several other children's books. I'm definitely going to read more by this author! Madalina Andronic's illustrations are fabulous! Her art really made the stories pop out of the page! I hope to see more children's books featuring her art!

I love spooky stories, so I enjoyed this story collection! I'm already reading anything even slightly scary to prepare myself for Halloween -- my favorite holiday! :) Very enjoyable book! 

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

Monday, September 2, 2019

REVIEW: Harley Quinn - Breaking Glass

Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass
Author: Mariko Tamaki

Harleen is sent to Gotham to live with her grandmother, but her life takes a drastic turn once she gets there. The story unfolds as the teen makes decisions, starts to discover who she is, makes friends, and faces danger, unfairness and bad people.

I love this new spin on a favorite character. Harley Quinn gets a bit of an update....she's facing current issues and learning as she goes. I like how she is portrayed as a strong, intelligent and driven teen, who also has some issues. She meets up with real evil....and makes some iffy decisions. The Joker is interesting and different in this story. At first, I just didn't want the character to be different. But as I saw more of the character and Harley's interactions with him, I found myself enjoying the change.

There is one point in the story where Harley refuses to put on a skimpy outfit and designs her own instead. I love that! She refuses to walk around half naked to gratify anyone else.....and designs something she wants to wear. She isn't afraid to say NO, I'm not going to wear that. Love it!

The storyline is well written and enjoyable. The artwork is great! Loved it! I'm curious where the story will go from here. I will definitely read the next graphic novel, if this continues as a series.

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

Sunday, September 1, 2019

REVIEW: The Curse of the Dead Eyed Doll

The Curse of the Dead Eyed Doll
Author: Thomas Kingsley Troupe

The Curse of the Dead-Eyed Doll is the fifth book in the Haunted States of America series. Every state has its own famous ghost tales and legends. Each book in the series focuses on a different state. So far, tales have been told from Tennessee, Minnesota, Texas, and Colorado. This newest book in the series adds a famous tale of a allegedly cursed child's toy in Florida.

The basics: Al Padilla takes a school field trip to the East Martello Museum in Key West. All of the students are excited about seeing the museum's most popular exhibit: a doll that is reportedly cursed. Robert the Doll has a strange backstory, and was donated to the museum decades earlier. Supposedly, if the doll is disrespected or has his photo taken without first being asked for permission, bad things happen. The museum displays a collection of letters sent to Robert apologizing for bad behavior and asking for him to remove the curse placed on them for slights or disrespect. Al doesn't believe in curses or haunted dolls. So, he snaps Robert's picture without asking permission. When everything starts to go wrong after the field trip, Al starts to wonder if maybe he is cursed.

This spooky tale is geared to middle grade readers. It's a bit creepy, but not overly so. There is a bit of supernatural stalking by an angry doll....but nothing that would be too freaky for elementary age kids. I enjoyed the story. I'm always up for a good creepy story, even one written for kids. I like the fact that the story is based on an actual real doll with a real creepy legend behind it. Robert exists. His real story is told in this book. I want to read the rest of the books in this series now! I will have to request my local library purchase them, as I believe local kids would love to read this series as well!

**I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from Flux (North Star Editions) via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**