Friday, December 28, 2018

Review: Murder on the Vine

Murder on the Vine Murder on the Vine by Jenna St. James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a fun book this was to read! I love the characters and the setting so much! The mystery kept me in suspense of who was the murderer. I’m not the best at figuring out who done it because I get caught up in characters who are a hoot and just go along for the fun times! I’m looking forward to spending more time with the Sullivan Sisters, Gramps, (I just love him), and everyone else. Bring a treat for Duke, saddle up and let’s have a drink or three while we find out what’s next!

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Review: Fresh Alaska Cookbook

Fresh Alaska Cookbook Fresh Alaska Cookbook by Robert Kineen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I live in Alaska. I enjoyed this cookbook. The author tells a bit about the culture of Natives making this more than just a cookbook. The recipes have a range on cooking skill. Some I found very easy, a few a bit more difficult. The ingredients were easy for me to find. Outside of Alaska, I’m not certain you can easily locate them. In some recipes he mentions a substitute, such as using game sausage or chorizo in place of reindeer. While I’m sure Santa is happy, if it is possible, use the reindeer because that is just delicious. B

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Review: Christmas Candi: A Guide to Year-round Holiday Bliss

Christmas Candi: A Guide to Year-round Holiday Bliss Christmas Candi: A Guide to Year-round Holiday Bliss by Candice Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has some wonderful ideas about how to de-stress Christmas. It concentrates on Halloween - New Year but has great ideas that can be used year round. There is a gift guide and some recipes to help you plan things along with entertaining ideas. The author also makes the case for keeping the spirit of Christmas alive all year. I have no problem with this. I love Christmas and have been known to celebrate Christmas Spirit Days throughout the year. I am thinking of gifting this book to young adults. As they start out in their own homes, I’m certain, they will find some helpful ideas on celebrating at home in addition to celebrating at family homes. I especially loved the inclusion of artwork by the author’s children.

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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Review: Death is Coming to Town

Death is Coming to Town Death is Coming to Town by Eleanor Cawood Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this collection of mysteries. The stories were quick reads. Most of the people were likable even though these were quick reads. I thought about which was my favorite and discovered that I couldn’t pick one. Surprisingly, I truly enjoyed every one. I haven’t read anything else by this author but I think I would like to.

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Friday, December 21, 2018

Review: A Very Merry Witchmas

A Very Merry Witchmas A Very Merry Witchmas by Ani Gonzalez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I probably should have started with book 1. That is what I would recommend to anyone who is looking at this book and hasn’t read the series. I read it as part of my Christmas reading. I enjoyed the book. I was surprised by it. It was more than I expected. However I did wish I had started it at the beginning. I will now have to do that as I did enjoy it. My recommendation is read it but in the order of the series.

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Review: Skipping Christmas

Skipping Christmas Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Delightful Christmas story. The movie Christmas with the Kranks was made from this book. This is one of the few book/movie combos where I enjoyed the movie more. The ending felt rushed, which kind of makes sense as once Blair calls the day becomes extremely rushed. This is where I feel the movie was better. The book is definitely worth reading though, especially during the holiday season. It contains a good message on how much we tend to spend on Christmas and, more importantly, why we do it. There are some good laughs and a few heartwarming moments. A good Christmas book.

December 20, 2018 I listened to the Audible version. I loved it! Oddly, listening to it, I did not feel the ending was rushed as I did when reading it myself. I guess the narrator was better than my voice. It was a joy to listen to and I plan to listen again next Christmas.

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Review: The Caller

The Caller The Caller by Dan Krzyzkowski
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was holding my breath so often while reading this! A few times I found myself with tears on my face. I was so drawn into the story. I read it in one sitting over night. It kept me on edge with a twist I didn’t see coming. I would recommend it.

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Review: A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I cherish A Christmas Carol. I have read this book so many times over the years. It is my Christmas favorite. This Audible addition with Tim Curry as narrator was awesome! He did a fabulous job bringing the tale to life. I will be listening to this again and again. I recommend this version.

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Friday, December 7, 2018

Review: Sleigh Bells and Sleuthing: A Collection of 16 Cozy Mystery Novellas Featuring Female Sleuths

Sleigh Bells and Sleuthing: A Collection of 16 Cozy Mystery Novellas Featuring Female Sleuths Sleigh Bells and Sleuthing: A Collection of 16 Cozy Mystery Novellas Featuring Female Sleuths by Carolyn Ridder Aspenson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this Christmas collection! It has stories from some of my favorite authors and a few from new to me authors. With 16 stories there is something for everyone to enjoy. The fact that proceeds go to charity sweetens the deal. I’m happy with it. I can share the collection with younger teen readers in my family making this a wonderful addition to our Christmas cheer notebook. *Our Christmas cheer notebook is a small book that list the Christmas books we feel are good anytime of the year.*

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Review: The Trouble with Turkeys

The Trouble with Turkeys The Trouble with Turkeys by Kathi Daley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this cozy mystery. I like the turkey farm. It had a fall reading feel for me. There are a number of people in this story. I had to stop and remember who two of them were. It made for a bigger suspects pool though. I had no idea there where different types of turkeys. I learned something new!

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Review: Christmas at Blue Hydrangeas

Christmas at Blue Hydrangeas Christmas at Blue Hydrangeas by Marianne Sciucco
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I needed a book to give me the warm fuzzy feeling of the spirit of Christmas. This one gave me that. The owner of The Blue Hydrangeas B&B waits for her husband and son to come home for Christmas. It is Christmas Eve, a snowstorm has blown in and she hasn’t heard from them. Will they make it in time for Christmas?
This story will pull on your heart. Have Kleenex nearby. There will be a couple areas where you may tear up. I want to read more of this B&B. My understanding is that the female lead in this story develops Alzheimer’s. This book is a prequel to that story. My mom is going through that now. Judging by this story, I will need to buy the multipack of Kleenex.

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Review: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever CD

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever CD The Best Christmas Pageant Ever CD by Barbara Robinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this book. I truly enjoyed listening to narrator, Elaine Stritch. She was awesome! It was like tumbling back into childhood, sitting crisscrossed applesauce on the library floor enchanted by the children’s librarian. I highly recommend this version. If you have a reluctant reader, this story may be one that breathes a whisper of comedic magic into their ears. It makes me wish I had a carful of children, cocoa in the cup holders, listening while we drive around looking at Christmas lights.

I listened to my librarian back in 1973. I read the book various times after in the 1970’s. I read it again in the 1980’s to my oldest children and again in the 1990’s to my youngest. In 2008 I read it to my grandson. I read it again in 2015. Discovering this Audible version was a delight! I plan to listen to it again, this Christmas season, with more grandchildren and my great grandson. Instead of being in a car, we will meet by video call. The magic will still be will our cups of cocoa and Christmas lights.

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Monday, November 26, 2018

Review: Candy Canes & Corpses

Candy Canes & Corpses Candy Canes & Corpses by Abby L. Vandiver
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I purchased this as a box set. I received one story. There was a lot of mix up regarding it. I received word the best thing to do was to request a refund. I did. Amazon promptly refunded it. The following morning I received a message from the main author in the set. I was assured it was fixed and complete. Believing this person, and wanting to support some of my favorite authors, I once again purchased the box set. I once again only received one book. Surprise, surprise it was a book from the main author. It had nothing to do with Christmas and wasn’t, in my opinion, very good. It most certainly was not what I was promised. The author of the “boxset” had, by this time, informed me that another author who was to be in the set was lying to me. This author has not once, in the few years that I have read her books, ever lied to me. I was shocked and realized who was lying to me. This alleged box set has one story in it. I would be very careful in the future of box sets that have the main author in them. Personally I feel that Abby Vandiver lied to me. I am not likely to purchase anything from her again. I don’t appreciate feeling that I was lied to and being told that it was another, (innocent), author who lied. Not cool. I did not attempt to get my money back the second time. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I hope it was worth the sixty cents the author received.
I did wait a few days before writing this review to give the author time to contact me. I was hoping for an apology, an explanation, a question of, “how can I make this right?” Anything. I got silence. Nothing was said to me even as the box set was quietly pulled from Amazon. I don’t want any response now.
Three of the authors who were, in my opinion, duped into this box set, have released their stories in an authorized boxed set called, Cozy Christmas Crimes. I would recommend buying the authorized box set.

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Friday, November 23, 2018

Review: A Killing in the Hills

A Killing in the Hills A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book that you will either really like or really hate. I think it will depend on what type of story you enjoy. My advice is to read the book to decide. Borrow it from your library if you aren’t sure you want to invest.
I was invested in this book. It was an emotional book for me to read. My family has lived in Appalachia for centuries. My body is in Alaska now but my heart, my soul, my blood remain rooted there. In my opinion the author did an excellent job creating a realistic portrait of the people, the area, the poverty and the complicated drug problem. The characters might not all be readily likable. Sometimes people are flawed. Sometimes the way they were raised plays a big part in their public personality and things they do. You don’t know this about them when you first meet them. Most people don’t jump at the opportunity to tell acquaintances their deepest secrets.
The story broke my heart but I could not stop reading. I think one of the scariest things I took from this story was the knowledge that this story isn’t just playing out in Appalachia. I came to this small town ten years ago. The town reminded me of where my roots are but did not have the problem. Sadly, a few years ago, I stopped being able to say that. Drugs had arrived and it didn’t take long for my town to match my heart’s home. If you have an interest in drugs, crime, small towns and mysteries that take an unexpected turn, try this book.
This book is the first in a series. It ends complete yet has a cliffhanger. I know, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. But it is accurate. The mystery is complete yet, in my opinion, there is a cliffhanger.

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Review: Cozy Christmas Crimes - A Cozy Christmas Box Set

Cozy Christmas Crimes - A Cozy Christmas Box Set Cozy Christmas Crimes - A Cozy Christmas Box Set by Tonya Kappes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was blown away by this box set. I was familiar with all the authors but had only read books by two of the authors, Tonya Kappes and Jenna St James. Mona Marple and Summer Prescott were new to me in the sense that I had not yet read their books.
The first story is Christmas Parties Are Murder by Jenna St James. This was a hilarious cozy. If you need to read a quick story that will lift your spirits, choose this one. It was super fun and will quickly hook you into wanting more from Nan and Amanda. You might even find yourself looking forward to your holiday office party.
The second story is The Candy Cane Killer by Mona Marple. The entire time I read this story, I honestly felt like I was back in my teen years reading Nancy Drew! If you are a Nancy Drew fan and are feeling nostalgic for her, choose this story. The sleuths are teen sisters making this an excellent story to share with the pre-teen and up in your life. I am looking into her books to see about a Christmas gift for the special pre-teen in my life.
The third book is A Charming Blend by Tonya Kappes. The characters in this story are from her Killer Coffee series and her Magical Cures series. If you are hoping to put a little paranormal magic into your holiday, choose this one. If you aren’t familiar with the two series you will become interested in them, I’m sure. If you are familiar, you might want to catch up a bit with the Killer Coffee series. This blend has a spoiler for it if you are not caught up.
The fourth book is A Lime to Kill by Summer Prescott. If you are feeling the need to completely get lost in a somewhat complicated relationship cozy and forget the hustle bustle going on, choose this story. I love the relationship between mom and daughter. It is a very realistic portrait of real relationships, the deep love yet growing up complexity that happens when your child is suddenly an adult. This was a carefully crafted mystery that builds slow then springs on you, leading to non-stop reading. This is a, ‘just one more chapter, oh my I’m done book.’
This holiday set will have you de-stressed in no time. Definitely add this one to your Christmas reading list, (it will work for Christmas in July too!).

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Friday, November 9, 2018

Review: Dracul

Dracul Dracul by Dacre Stoker
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Dracula was the first horror story I read as a teenager. It scared me but I loved the story. The way it sucked you in and left you shivering in a drafty castle, though whether you shivered from the chill or from fear you could not say. It remains a favorite of mine. When I came across Dracul and learned it was written by a descending relative of Bram Stoker, I was so excited to read it. It did not disappoint me at all. I loved going back to the atmosphere of terror yet a longing to know the story completely. I was enchanted once again. The book travels through time, location and journal entries. There is more than one POV. I was afraid I would get lost but it all came together beautifully. I was spellbound each time I picked it up to read further. Bram’s childhood had gripped me from the start and I kept wondering what he was. Matilda, I loved this brave, loyal sister. Nanna Ellen intrigued and frightened me. Their story will not be forgotten. For me, it has its place next to Dracula.
Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker did a phenomenal job with this book. It took a long time to read and this was with me picking it up as often as I could, reading way into the night. It was worth the lost sleep.

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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Review: Asking for Truffle

Asking for Truffle Asking for Truffle by Dorothy St. James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I fell in love with the cover of this book the very first time I saw it. I adored the pup pictured. Finally, I got the book! It was everything I hoped for. Every bit of entertaining as the cover promised me. I love Stella, the cover dog, even more! There are a few things going on with the story’s main character, Penn. I like Penn a lot. I think her and Stella are a great match. I also liked the other characters to various degrees. I love that the author gave everyone good and bad parts. It made choosing the villain hard but also kept things real. How many people do you know who are totally either good or evil? That’s right. Most people are a mix of good and bad. I really enjoyed this story. I love chocolate so reading all about it was no hardship at all. If you are thinking about choosing this book, my recommendation is to go for it. I got caught up in the story fairly quickly. I hope you will, too.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Review: Christmas, Criminals, and Campers - A Camper and Criminals Cozy Mystery Series

Christmas, Criminals, and Campers - A Camper and Criminals Cozy Mystery Series Christmas, Criminals, and Campers - A Camper and Criminals Cozy Mystery Series by Tonya Kappes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this author. Every book I have read from her has kept me entertained. Christmas, Criminals and Camping is no exception. I had a good time from my first peek until the end of the book. I say first peek because I had promised myself I was not reading this until after Halloween. Temptation was too much and I peeked and peeked until I discovered I had read the whole book, before Halloween!

We are back in Normal, Kentucky for Christmas with Mae and The Laundry Club. A romance author, a favorite of Abby’s, is coming to stay at the campground! Of course she does not come alone. They are not the only new faces in town either. When the author does a reading at the library, a shocking secret is told. One that devastates and angers Abby. Is she angry enough to kill? Sweet Abby? O. M. G. No! Don’t do this to me Tonya Kappes! Everything points to her. Mae is determined to get the real killer before Abby finds herself with lots of reading time behind bars! What Mae doesn’t count on is the surprise at the campground or how it will affect her. Will Mae and Hank be able to continue exploring their romance when he has Abby sitting in jail? Oh so much is not normal in Normal this Christmas!

I enjoyed all the twists and turns of this book. Every time I thought I had it figured would take a turn. The reveal was as shocking as the secret Nadine White had held during her writing career! The author gave us all a peek into an aspect of writing that we all know about but choose to ignore. After all no one wants to think a beloved writer keeps that secret.

I really adore the people of Normal. Don’t we all want friends like the ones in our favorite books? I long to find a laundromat like The Laundry Club. I don’t care that I have machines at home. I would gather some laundry just to hang out there. Though, I suppose, being the stranger in town could make me the next victim! Oh the chilling deliciousness of that! I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

In case you are new to Tonya Kappes, her books are full of fun times and a bit of death. There is no over the top violence or gore, no “bad” language, no graphic sexual content. They are just good people, a few bad, enjoying each other and life, or death, in a small town. Some have a paranormal bent to them. I prefer to read her books in order but if you find yourself reading them out of order, I don’t think you will have a problem. She does a quick run down in the beginning of her books so you won’t be left behind.

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Review: American Ghost: A Family's Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest

American Ghost: A Family's Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest American Ghost: A Family's Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest by Hannah Nordhaus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have a love hate relationship with the title of this book. I do feel almost cheated by it. I was expecting more of a ghost story. I got a haunting story of a woman searching out the truth of her great, great grandmother who it has been said, is a ghost haunting a hotel in New Mexico. I say that yet I give it high stars? Yes. I loved the story, though I did feel that it gets a little twisty at times. There is more in this book that just the story of Julia Staab. I understand it, though, because when you search out the life story of an ancestor you get stories from all the people in between you and the ancestor in question. This book is an interesting account of a young German Jewish bride coming to live in the American Southwest. At times it is a very sad tale which is why I call it haunting. I think of the bravery of this woman, yes she had no choice as a woman, but brave is what she was. I can't imagine going to a foreign country, with no real grasp of the languages, to live. And that is now, when there are so many options to to help me. If women's history interests you or history of the southwest or German Jewish people, this book will probably have something to bring you. If you are looking for a scary ghost story, even though this has moments with psychics and tv's Ghost Hunters, look for another book. This isn't that kind of story. It is a book I would recommend to book clubs though. I think it has a lot that can be discussed. I enjoyed it, taking my time with it, thinking about how things were for my female ancestors.

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Friday, October 26, 2018

Review: Elvis and the Dearly Departed

Elvis and the Dearly Departed Elvis and the Dearly Departed by Peggy Webb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was on my TBR for a long time. I got it for the basset hound named Elvis on the cover. I loved Elvis and his music when I was growing up. I thought it was fun having him reincarnated in the hound dog. I read this in between scary reading. I needed something to just relax and laugh with. For me, it did the job. I don’t expect reality when I read fiction. I also don’t expect my characters to be perfect examples of my idea of perfect people. The plot and characters were fun. I honestly didn’t know who did it until the end. I really enjoyed the dog.
I would recommend this book to people who just want to have fun in a cozy. If you are going to be judgmental of the characters you probably won’t like the ones here. They are probably not people you want to be. I don’t tend to look at fictional characters as role models so I’m cool with the quirky, not perfect peeps in a book. If you are looking for a serious cozy, keep going. But if you just want to escape from reality and you miss Elvis, read it.

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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Review: Malignant: a gripping psychological thriller you do not want to miss

Malignant: a gripping psychological thriller you do not want to miss Malignant: a gripping psychological thriller you do not want to miss by Anita Waller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book surprised me. I was glued to it wondering what was going to happen next. I was on an emotional roller coaster all the way through. I am not one to deeply discuss the plot in reviews because I think you can read the synopsis and the rest you should discover on your own. I do give a heads up for certain themes because I know some aren’t ready to read them. One is domestic violence which is in this book. I believe the author handled it well in the respect that it is only as graphic as it needs to be. Just enough for the reader to know it was present, who knew or didn’t, what the results were. The friendship between Claudia and Heather was fairly honest. It was very touching yet difficult. I loved reading it. The relationship with Claudia and her children was too. The characters were likable people with exceptions to those we were suppose to dislike. Even those, though, were characters that I could think of as representing someone I really knew. I liked how the marriages were portrayed, how love and hate dance with each other, how easy it is to cross back and forth between feelings with the people in our lives. I would recommend this book. I think it would actually be a good book club selection with all the things going on. There is much to discuss in the plot twists, lies, events and relationships.

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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Review: Aftershock

Aftershock Aftershock by Valerie Lioudis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Read this during RAT. Review to come.
Would have been five star but there was no ending. If you pick this get book 2. I had no idea I was at the end when it cut off. It was frustrating.

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Review: Gingerbread Dreams

Gingerbread Dreams Gingerbread Dreams by Anna J. Stewart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was gifted a ebook copy of this book. It was sold as a box set of Brenda Novak's fundraiser for diabetes. My review is based on my feelings reading the book.

I love Christmas books. They are always magical. This book was a bit different from the usual mix I come across. I loved the story. It brought up something that I went through. I had custody of a family members child for awhile. It was heart wrenching difficult. Your love and loyalties are stretched to breaking points. Of course, the needs of the child win no matter how much pain you feel. It's special pain... it carries a mix of love, loyalty, hope, hopelessness, anger and sadness. It is a pain I wish on no one. Unfortunately it is a reality for many. I thought the author handled it well. She touched on the various feelings without dragging the book down. The ending was one that happens. The characters are very well written. I could see them in my mind and in my heart. I would recommend this to all the holiday romance lovers out there. It is clean so no need to worry if a teen picks it up. Matter of fact, I think it would make for wonderful discussions.

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Monday, October 15, 2018

Review: Little Girl Lost

Little Girl Lost Little Girl Lost by Addison Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book certainly held my attention. I could not stop until I got to the end. Be prepared for a ball of confusion. There are a few storylines going on which honestly I think there would be a number of stories in real life with a child’s disappearance. Everyone connected to the child has their life examined and who doesn’t have secrets or regrets? So yes it’s messy, like it is suppose to be. I was glued to my Kindle.

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Review: All The Things You Are

All The Things You Are All The Things You Are by Declan Hughes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first time reading this author. It was a library book.

I chose this book thinking it would be a spooky read for Halloween and the readathons. It was set at Halloween, both past and present. I liked Claire and Danny, even when I was unsure about who and what they really were. I even liked Donna and Charlie, maybe because they were, at least, honest and accepting of who they were. The plot was fairly twisty with lots of potential suspects and nobody to truly trust. Then came the explosions. Those I didn’t see even though I had the off kilter feelings. I’m not saying more, though I want to, because anything else will give you no reason to read the book. I think you should read it. I was devouring the last third of the book. Why then 4 Stars? I wanted to know more about someone though if the author chose to make a guess true, I would have felt like punching him in the nose. But to me, that’s a pretty good thing. It means the author did his job. For me, the best books are those that invite me in to the story, make me forget reality and make me feel. You don’t punch people, even in fantasy, unless you are feeling. Deeply feeling. He lost a star because I’ll be forever wondering. It’s almost like a punch. Read the book.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Monday, October 8, 2018

Friday, October 5, 2018

Review: The Scarecrow Snuff Out: A Lily Sprayberry Realtor Halloween Novella

The Scarecrow Snuff Out: A Lily Sprayberry Realtor Halloween Novella The Scarecrow Snuff Out: A Lily Sprayberry Realtor Halloween Novella by Carolyn Ridder Aspenson
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

This was my first time reading this author. I chose this book for its Halloween theme not realizing it was from a series. I did not need to read previous books. It does make for good Halloween reading and, in my opinion, can be enjoyed by preteen and up.
I enjoyed the characters in this book. I felt very much at home with them. I admit I did get excited over the use of might could. I speak like that but rarely come across it in books, (or really in real life unless I’m talking with family). I enjoyed the slow paced build up on this mystery. At first it read like it was going to be a good time Halloween tale, (which it is), but then came the mystery solving and a pick up on the pacing.
If you are looking for a Halloween scare, then come spend some time lost in the corn maze.

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Review: Assault and Beadery

Assault and Beadery Assault and Beadery by Mollie Cox Bryan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was my first book by Mollie Cox Bryan. It is part of the series, A Cora Crafts Mystery. I had no issue with jumping into the series. Because of that, I believe this book can be read as a stand-alone or out of series order. This was also my first cozy mystery with crafting as a theme.

I really enjoyed this mystery. I liked Cora and the other characters very much. They were people I would enjoy being around. I felt comfortable with them. I was thrilled to see Cora pay attention to gut instinct. I think we all need to listen more when it tries to get our attention. As someone who deals with anxiety and panic, it was interesting to have a major character dealing with it. I was encouraged by Cora.

I was intrigued by the idea of a crafting retreat. I have never been to one. I do enjoy some crafts but am lousy at keeping them up. My crafting level is, at best, self described as kindergarten - first grade level. I do love to do them do and am, frequently, as proud as the best of any kindergarteners. I started this book with a little bit of fear that I would have a difficult time with the crafting part. No worries, though. I was able to not only keep up just fine but also found myself wishing to attend a craft retreat. I believe I could manage to learn something new and fun to do. I was even encouraged enough that I am planning to try the crafts at the back of the book. I’m thinking I could come away with some meditation beads...or maybe just a necklace like is pictured on the cover. There are actually a couple of craft instructions that I want to try.

The mystery was well written. I was kept guessing all the way up to the reveal. There were several secrets and surprises along the way that had me changing my mind about suspects. The big reveal contained the best secret! But I’m not going to give you anything there.

I recommend this cozy mystery book. It was fun and interesting. If you make any of the crafts in the book and post photos on Instagram, please tag me, (Wulfwyn907). I would really like to see what you made. I will be adding the other books in this series to my TBR. Thank to Kimberlee at the Review Club on Facebook for the ARC. The opinions expressed are my honest thoughts regarding this book.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Review: Killer Unleashed

Killer Unleashed Killer Unleashed by Beth Prentice
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was the first book I read by Beth Prentice. I thought it was hilarious. I love the characters! I did not entirely guess the ending which had some twists in it. I am definitely reading more of this series and from this author.

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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Review: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked This Way Comes Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had a great time listening to this! It contains a full cast and music. Honestly I felt as though I could be sitting in a theatre watching a play. I know this will be an audiobook I listen to again and again. This version, which is only 2 hours in length, is perfect for a spooky Halloween read. Pop some popcorn and dim the lights!

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Saturday, September 29, 2018

Review: Malice

Malice Malice by Jennifer Jaynes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read all of the books written by Jennifer Jaynes. I enjoy her writing. She has a way of drawing you in and holding you tightly until the end. This book was a bit different from the others I had read. I wasn’t positive I would like it as much. I was wrong about that. I did not want to put the book down. I would call this a medical thriller. It is multilayered with secrets all around. In my opinion it is a well researched, thought provoking, gripping read. I highly recommend it. Read no further if you don’t want to know how this book was personal for me

My oldest daughter and her younger brother both had reactions to vaccines. Reading about Suzy almost had me hyperventilating. The scenario was nearly identical to what happened with my oldest daughter. The seizures that began after receiving a “necessary” baby shot have never gone away. Even though her seizures began while we were still in the doctor’s office, after the shot was administered, I was told it couldn’t be the shot. The doctor and nurses kept repeating that like a mantra. Fortunately it was the third shot so she didn’t need another soon after. In the months following the nightmare continued with her having multiple seizures every day. The doctor was ordering all kinds of test because the vaccine was “deemed safe”. When I had her brother I held off the shots. I was terrified. That was when the real campaign began. I was paranoid, (admittedly this was true, I was). I was harming my child. I was putting other children in grave danger. What kind of mother was I? Did I realize I was withholding medical care and could go to jail? Eventually they wore me down. I was scared to do it and scared not to. I really believed they would take my children from me. I gave in and he was given the first injection. He did not react the same as my daughter. However his thigh was swollen and extremely hard...even a month later. They assured me it wasn’t the vaccine. They gave him the second shot and his other leg had the same reaction. Long story short, my son had to have physical therapy from Easter Seals to learn to walk. My daughter has had to use anti seizure medication her entire life. (They are both adults now). Years later, it came out that a lot of children in the USA had reactions similar to those my children had. I learned that the dosage given to children here was the highest in the world. Europe had been successfully vaccinating their children with half the amount we were giving. It was at this time that I began understanding the money game in health care. I am very concerned with the way we are being told the best thing for children is a multitude of immunization and the everyday use of sanitizers. I am appalled at the number of vaccines a baby is given. I am shocked that instead of letting our children develop natural immunity and strong health systems, we are force fed the rhetoric of children are especially vulnerable to deadly illnesses. How in the world did anyone survive without all this that we do today? Not only did we survive but we were pretty much healthier. I understand that what I wrote may have a lot of people upset with me. I don’t mind. You have your opinion. I have mine. I honestly believe we over vaccinate and we over sanitize in this country.

I know Ms. Jaynes book is a work of fiction. I hope you choose to read it. It is a very good thriller. I hope you enjoy it. I hope you truly think about the subject. I don’t think what she wrote as fiction is very far from the truth.

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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Review: Counseling Insights: Practical Strategies for Helping Others with Anxiety, Trauma, Grief, and More

Counseling Insights: Practical Strategies for Helping Others with Anxiety, Trauma, Grief, and More Counseling Insights: Practical Strategies for Helping Others with Anxiety, Trauma, Grief, and More by Vicki Enns
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I won an electronic copy of this book in a Goodreads Giveaway.

I’m not a therapist or counselor in a professional sense. I was interested in this book because I feel that we are all, at one time or another, a counselor for a family member, friend or stranger. I think it is important to learn what is helpful, (and what is not), to say or do in the times we find ourselves in these positions. I want to make it clear, though, that nothing replaces professional counseling and it should be encouraged when needed.
We all know someone who lives with depression, anxiety, addiction, grief or one of many other emotions. We may be dealing with one or more ourselves. Knowing how to express ourselves, ways we can help and what the signs are that someone we care about needs extra help is extremely important. I found this book to be very helpful in this. It is written in an easy to understand style. While it is directed at the professional community, I think anyone could benefit from reading it.
We are moving toward a society that is more open about mental health. More everyday people are helping populations that are severely troubled. In my community, the churches have put together a homeless shelter that is run by volunteers. The volunteers are just regular people who will possibly find themselves in a listening role for hurting people. Reading a book such as this one, can help them to ask or say things that will help. I think it can help them identify when someone needs immediate intervention, (someone is suicidal), those who can be helped to locate a counselor,(someone who needs guidance but isn’t in, or a, danger at the moment), and those who just need someone to listen with a caring, nonjudgmental ear.
I think the book is excellent for those who counsel in a professional manner. Everything is broken down into steps and there are examples to follow. What I took most from this book, for professionals, is the encouragement of self examination. Being a professional counselor is a rewarding job that is filled with sad stories, frustrating progress and doubts that they have done enough. It is a difficult profession. Having a book like this one helps to make the job easier.
The book is broken down into chapters that deal with various illnesses and issues. I was happy to see a chapter devoted to the LGBT2SQ+ community and that it’s focus was on how to make the practice a welcoming center. This community has been historically ignored. It is an evolving community as society becomes more educated and accepting of them. They are finding themselves and are finally able to talk about how they see themselves. I think it is important to stay educated on the changes so they are able to be comfortable going to counseling. They are making progress but still dealing with hurtful exclusions and worse. Having counselors who are sincerely interested in their wellbeing is important. Another chapter that I found particularly insightful was the chapter on grief. We normally think of grief as being related to death of someone we were close to. After reading this chapter, I learned that grief has many forms of loss. This was interesting and very useful. In the chapters you will learn of each topic, learn the principles of them, be given strategies and have case examples to help you visualize everything. At the end of the book there is a section for resources that are used in the topic chapters. There is also a link where you can download PDF’s from a website.
Overall I found this to be an excellent book that will improve your skills in helping others. Christmas is coming up and this would be a nice gift to a student who is studying to be a counselor/therapist.

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Review: The Swing of Things

The Swing of Things The Swing of Things by Linda Keir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was actually surprised by this book. The first half was pretty much what I thought it would be, though better written. I was ready for it to be more trashy, less thoughtful. I liked the slow pace of that half. The get to know the players set up. The second half! A twist that shocked me, a second turn that I kind of was expecting and a couple of smaller twists had me gripped all the way to the end. I have already been recommending it to a few of my friends.
This book does contain adult material including sexual situations that occur outside of marriage. If you are opposed to reading that, please choose a different book. It really does annoy me when someone gives a one star review for choosing to read a book they know contains things they really oppose. It isn’t fair to those reading reviews. Whatever star rating you choose, let it be an honest one based on a book you really want to read. That is what is helpful to those considering reading a book. I’ll get off my soapbox now. I enjoyed the book. It gave me a lot to think about and wonder what I would have chosen to do. I understand that the book was actually written by two authors. That was something I did not know until after I read the book. I think they did a great job with it.

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Review: Spiced and Iced

Spiced and Iced Spiced and Iced by Jenny Kales
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is the second book of the series, Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries. It can be read alone but is much better read in order. The setting is winter in Wisconsin.
I love Callie and her family. They are so warm. You feel as though you really know them and could just pop in for a visit. The mystery in Spiced and Iced was well done with several decent suspects. At the end there was plenty to wrap up as you were kept guessing with lots of reasons why. Everything does get wrapped up though I didn’t guess correctly until right before the reveal. I can’t wait to see what is coming next!
There are a few recipes, of Greek flavor, in the back. My favorite was Sweetie’s Spinach Squares aka Lazy Spanakopita. It is super easy to make and is so tasty, tasty. I could eat this everyday! If you do holiday baking, there are several recipes that will definitely have you in the kitchen.

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Monday, September 24, 2018

Review: Fast Falls the Night

Fast Falls the Night Fast Falls the Night by Julia Keller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I selected this book without knowing it was part of a series. I did not feel that I missed anything by not reading the books before it. That is not to say that I am not interested now. I am, very much so. It is just to clarify that it is a part of a series and that it can be read as a stand-alone.

This book caught my eye because my heritage is Appalachian. Southeast Kentucky, not West Virginia but, trust me, the same. The drug epidemic in Appalachia is strong and heartbreaking. It knows no age, sex, religion or economic status. There is no discrimination in it. My heart broke so many times reading this book. I thought about family and friends. I thought about how much I truly want to go home and the fear that keeps me here. I know, one day, I will go home. I have made my wishes for my ashes to be scattered in the holler where I learned what love and family meant.

The characters in this book are familiar to me. They were well written and very realistic. Their lives were true to real lives there. There are good people who try to clean it up just as there are good people lost in the drug epidemic. The story could have been a real day there.
The series this book is apart of is called the Bell Elkins novels. I didn’t find this out until the end. I’m happy it is a part of a series. Bell is an interesting character and, in this book, a truly interesting background. I want to connect the dots so I will be reading those prior books. I am also looking forward to how this story ends as it does end on a cliffhanger of sorts. I say of sorts because you could just accept the way it ends and let it play out in your mind. Or you could be like me and want more. There are plenty to choose from; I just need to decide start at the beginning or read the next book first, then go back.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Review: Decaffeinated Scandal

Decaffeinated Scandal Decaffeinated Scandal by Tonya Kappes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really love this author. I have yet to read a book written by her that I haven’t enjoyed!

Decaffeinated Scandal is the fifth book in The Killer Coffee Mystery Series. To best enjoy this book, I would suggest that you start with book one and go in order. The mystery can stand-alone but the main character has a storyline that is ongoing. The setting for this book is fall in Kentucky. There are several recipes included at the back of the book. The Salted Caramel Coffee is to die for! It is now my favorite coffee. I also tried the Bean and Ham Soup recipe. It is chilly in Alaska right now and this soup was wonderful. I chose it because I love Bean and Ham Soup but this had an ingredient I normally didn’t use. I did change the cooking method to using my Instant Pot but otherwise followed it exactly. It was mighty tasty. I made the dog treats for my Zoey. She loves pumpkin. I had them cooling while we went out and the male in the house noticed them. Yes, he thought they were a treat. When we came in from our walk, he told me he thought they needed a little sugar. I was a bit entertained by that. I guess I need to get a dog bone cookie cutter.

I think one of my favorite things about a series is getting to know the characters and the town. I love everyone in this series! There are some quirky people but everyone is genuine. The mystery was interesting and I was totally invested in the outcome. I sort of guessed who it was but was also wrong. There is something special that happens in this book and that leads to a special announcement at the end! I’m super excited about this.

If you are looking for a fun, small town, clean new series with lovable characters, laugh out loud moments and a murder or so, you definitely want to check out this series.

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Review: Seashells & Mistletoe: Hawaiian Holiday

Seashells & Mistletoe: Hawaiian Holiday Seashells & Mistletoe: Hawaiian Holiday by Rachelle Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fun book to escape with! I have a fear of open water but this story made me want to go on a cruise. It was a hoot! I loved the characters, well most of them. If you are in need of some warm, fun in the sun but hilarious adventures, grab this book. It is cheaper than therapy and will help you stay sane during the busy Christmas season. You will laugh out loud at some of the antics!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Review: Santa Took Them

Santa Took Them Santa Took Them by William Malmborg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was a twisty tale. I read the last 15% of the book with my hand over my mouth and a need to use the bathroom that I kept putting off to finish the book. Normally I would walk and read but I was so interested, (or horrified), moving wasn’t an option. I would have probably had a heart attack if I accidentally shut my Kindle down or moved the pages.
For those who would like to know the book is horror so yes to graphic. It also has a few sexually explicit passages. Yes, there is also “swearing”. If those bother you, please don’t star the book down. Just move on and find a book that is what you want to read. (Pet peeve - sorry).

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Sunday, September 9, 2018

Review: Passing Through

Passing Through Passing Through by R.W.K. Clark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of the most disturbing books I have read. I had to stop and do something else a few times just so I could catch my breath. The author called it a psychological thriller. I would agree but add horror to it. The author gives us a look inside the killer, a glimpse at his background. Enough for us to see how he came to be. This interested me. I like to know or try to know why someone does the things they do or make the choices that they make. It is probably this reason that Donna was who I became so interested in. I thought the end was a bit abrupt. I would have liked to know how the survivors were doing. Still the story was a gripping one. I can’t say I exactly liked or enjoyed it. It did, however, keep me reading. It will probably keep me up now.
This book contains graphic scenes of violence and rape. It is not for children or teens, in my opinion.

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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Review of Hunted by Darcy Coates

I was surprised by this book. It started slow for me. Then around the halfway point, it sped up. I read through the night, taking a few breaks. The breaks weren't to rest my eyes. They were to slow my heart. They were to let my breathing normalize. They were to loosen the knot of tension in my stomach. I like Darcy Coates . This wasn't my first book of hers that I read. For now , though, it is my favorite. I hope, if you decide to try this, you enjoy it as much as I did. 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Review: Savannah Secrets

Savannah Secrets Savannah Secrets by Alan Chaput
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my first book by Alan Chaput. It is the second in his Vigilantes for Justice series. While I was able to follow along and get involved in the book, I honestly wish 8 had read book 1 first. So you can read it out of order but I don’t recommend it.
I thought the characters were well written. I like many of them, especially Patricia and Meredith. The mystery, though, was awesomely written. In my opinion this is not a cozy mystery, though I can see why it has been called that. It is a clean book, even though the sex industry and organized crime are part of the story. I give the author major kudos for pulling that off. I was raised by a mother who always said if you need to curse a lot you should invest in a dictionary. *Truth confession: I need to invest in a good dictionary.* Mr Chaput wrote a very good mystery mixing in characters and elements where you often find colorful language and he did it without relying on “adult” language. He also did not rely on graphic sex and violence. Some may think this would be a somewhat boring read but I assure you it is not.
My recommendation is that if you are looking for a mystery that is clean reading but has a complicated plot with a few things going on, this is a series for you. I would suggest you start with book 1 but if you really want to read book 2 without reading 1, it is doable.

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Monday, September 3, 2018

Review: Her Name Was Rose

Her Name Was Rose Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. I had a hard time putting this book down! I was enthralled with it. I read it during a readathon, by myself. I don’t know who else has read it so I have no one to go over the reader guide with. Yet I will. I will write my answers and my thoughts to the questions posed because the book was that good. Read it.

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Sunday, September 2, 2018

Review: The Phantom Coach: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Ghost Stories

The Phantom Coach: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Ghost Stories The Phantom Coach: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Ghost Stories by Michael Sims
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed listening to this collection. It was the perfect kickoff to my fall reading. Like all collections there are stories that you like and some that you love. That is a matter of personal choice. The narrator was good. If you are looking for some good stories for Halloween without the sex and guts that so many books have now, give this a try. I always suggest getting a sample from the electric version, and listening to a sample of narration, if you are uncertain a book is for you.

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Friday, August 24, 2018

Review: Pippa

Pippa Pippa by Malynda Schlegel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! This is not an easy review to write. I don’t want to give away anything. Yet a warning is needed. I will do my best.
I’m still digesting what I read. I would place this as psychological suspense. To be honest, for a few chapters, I wasn’t exactly certain what I was reading. Some of it felt like a coming of age story. Pippa comes from a dysfunctional family. There are two other children who are also from dysfunctional families. I was hooked from the start. I know dysfunctional. I have been interested is the why of people’s choices and thinking for at least thirty years. I knew something was off with Pippa, her family and the others who play major parts. The author tells you this in her description but leaves off how well she can confuse things. I was intrigued at the beginning of the story then fascinated and then that ending! I read this book nearly nonstop. It stayed in my head the brief times I set it down. I loved the friendships, dysfunctional as they were also. I thought a lot about how the children tried. I thought a lot about how adults let them down. I thought about people I knew in my life. I will be thinking about this book for awhile. It is not always an easy read. If you had a traumatic life, some of this may trigger memories. I would caution you to be ready for that. There are some not so nice things in this book though the author did not choose to be very graphic. There is a scene with an animal that is disturbing. It was brief but is told by Pippa. Choose wisely when deciding if this book is for you.
I was given an arc e-copy for review purposes. My review is based on my honest thoughts of it. I gave it five stars because it held me captive until the end, I wanted more of the story after the end, I cared about the children, it made me think about how dysfunction in families affect others, it made me think how easy it can be to lead a child and how much we need to improve services for children, and it is a book I would have conversations about. It is a book I would be interested in hearing others thoughts about it.

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Review: Strawberries & Crème Murder

Strawberries & Crème Murder Strawberries & Crème Murder by Susan Gillard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my first time reading this author.
I’m intrigued by this book/series. I liked the mystery and that it was a quick read. I didn’t like that I didn’t really get to know Heather or really any of the characters, not even Dave the dog. I’m hoping that as the series goes along the main characters will develop more. It is possible since these are quick books the author is choosing to let us get to know everyone a little at a time. That would be fine as we don’t know anyone very well our first meeting. I also question how quickly and easily Heather is allowed to help with the investigation. I can go with things though if I like the characters.
It took me about an hour or so to read it. It was interesting enough that I plan to read a few more to see how the story and characters develop.

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Review: In the Dog House

In the Dog House In the Dog House by V.M. Burns
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second book by this author that I have read. I really enjoyed the first book and was looking forward to this one, which kicks off a new series. Unbelievably I loved this book even more than the other book.
I loved the sleuth and her friend but even more, I loved the dogs! Even though the series is titled Dog Club Mystery, I wasn’t certain if dogs would have a good part in the books. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the author did have the dogs as part of the action, throughout the story. Yay! This was a definite win for this dog lover. The mystery was tight with several suspects and lots of motives. I am not big on going into plots. I think it ruins the fun for people who read the reviews before reading the books. The plot was excellent and the main characters likable, the dogs absolutely lovable.
My recommendation is to get the book and read it. If you aren’t convinced then request the free sample. The only way to know if a book truly fits you is to try it out.

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Review: I Know You Know

I Know You Know I Know You Know by Gilly Macmillan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brilliant! I enjoyed this book very much. I loved the podcast element. The twists that came were absolutely surprising for me.
I think this is one of those books that you will either love or hate. Some of the characters you will probably dislike and distrust. One of those I could relate to which made it easier for me to understand her even while I didn’t trust her. This is a crime thriller with two children who are murdered. I think that is difficult for most people. I want to say more on that but to do so, might ruin things for you. My advice is to try it. If you are on the fence about it, use the free sample option. I was surprised by it. The last half of the book, I could not stop reading.
Thank you to Harper Collins and the BookShout app for providing a free copy of this book without any requirement for a review. The review is based on my thoughts of the story. This is the first book of Gilly Macmillan’s that I have read. I do plan to read more from this author.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Review: We are NOT Buying a Camper!

We are NOT Buying a Camper! We are NOT Buying a Camper! by Karen Musser Nortman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this series! It is a lot of fun to read these books. I really enjoy the main characters. This book took me back to the camping days of my youth.

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Monday, August 20, 2018

Review: The Plot Is Murder

The Plot Is Murder The Plot Is Murder by V.M. Burns
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my first book by VM Burns. It is a cozy mystery set in Michigan with a second location in England.

I loved the fact that this is actually two mysteries! The main character, Sam, is writing a mystery. I had no trouble at all following both of them. Perhaps this is because I tend to read more than one book at a time. Maybe my mind is trained to keep them separate. Both mysteries were a lot of fun for me to read. I really hope this continues in some of her future books. The characters were a lot of fun. Nana’s gang of friends were a hoot and some amazing ladies. I also liked Dawson a lot and hope he stays with the series. I would like to see how things turn out for him. The mysteries were some what alike which causes some trouble. They were both interesting. I had an easier time figuring out the main mystery. Maybe we had less information with Sam’s mystery? I’m not sure because Ms Burns did a super job with both.

The book is pretty clean. Irma almost lets loose a couple of times but is stopped. It made me laugh. I recommend it to cozy lovers, especially if they like dogs. Sam has two friends who are amazing. Yes, I do love dogs!

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Review: Inheriting Murder: A Bobwhite Mountain Cozy Mystery

Inheriting Murder: A Bobwhite Mountain Cozy Mystery by Jamie Rutland Gillespie My rating: 5 of 5 stars ...