March Book Reviews, Part 1

I’m so excited it’s April. Spring has arrived and all of the nasty white stuff is gone. That’s reason for celebration!

Another reason is all the great books I read last month, reviews of which I’m sharing today. I’m splitting the post in two parts, since I managed to read nine books in March. Moving forward, I plan to break my reviews into a mid-month post and an end of the month post so there isn’t so much back-to-back (although It’s unlikely I’ll read this many books again in a single month!).

To read the blurbs and learn about each title, click the Amazon link after my review. I hope you discover something to add to your TBR. And remember to check back tomorrow for part two! 

Book cover for the Beast Within by Jacqui BiggarThe Beast Within
by Jacquie Biggar
A wonderful blend of multiple genres, The Beast Within, is the second book the Mended Souls trilogy, but it also reads as a stand-alone. I had no problem picking up the storyline involving Guardian Angels, Lucas Carmichael and Mike, both of whom died in the same car crash. While struggling to overcome their animosity for each other, they’re also charged with watching over Mike’s wife, Julie Crenshaw. A reporter, Julie, is still adjusting to life without Mike, as well as the loss of her unborn baby girl when she begins investigating a string of bizarre serial murders. Enter Conner O’Rourke, a homicide detective who is working the case.

Biggar does well in providing insight to her myriad cast of characters. Paths cross, lives become entwined, and puzzle pieces (you’ll find an interesting side line with them) slot into place while others veer in unexpected directions. The story provides suspense, mystery, and a touch of the supernatural along with a romantic sub-plot as Julie and Conner discover mutual attraction. The writing is polished with excellent scene setting, vivid descriptions, and a storyline that provides multiple twists with plenty of danger. The author is clearly a pro and knows how to deliver a tale that will keep you entertained from beginning to end.

Amazon Link
Genre: Mystery/Romantic Suspense

Book cover for When You're the Only Cop in TownWhen You’re the Only Cop in Town
A Writer’s Guide to Small Town Law Enforcement
by Jack Berry, Debra Dixon
This is an old book that’s been on my shelf for a while. I read the hardcover (which I believe is difficult to find now) but I’m including the link for the Kindle version. There is nothing like first hand information from a man who spent his entire career in law enforcement, seventeen years of which were as a police chief in a small town. This is quick and easy read, filled with anecdotes, straight-on facts, and plenty of humor. I read it with a highlighter in hand, and colored tabs to mark pages. An excellent resource for writers, I can see myself referring to it often as I unleash plot bunnies on my fictional small towns.
Informative and VERY entertaining!

Amazon Link
Genre: Reference > Writing Craft

book cover for No Easy Street by Julia DonnerNo Easy Street
By Julia Donner
Step back in time with this well-written and engaging tale set in the American west. The period detail is exceptional! When seamstress Elsbeth Soderberg inherits a cattle ranch in Wyoming, she’s thrust into a role she never expected. She’s a woman in a man’s world dealing with hardened cowhands, multiple prejudices, and a ruthless employee. Fortunately, she has neighbor Ezekiel (EZ) Street and his young daughter to help her adjust.

Elsbeth is a strong character, but she shines exceptionally bright when she’s standing up for herself and taking charge of a situation. She has a steely backbone, but at the same time she’s portrayed as a woman with doubts and fears. That combination of determination, conviction, and vulnerability makes her a likable and believable character. The romantic elements are well done and the supporting characters add vivid color. I especially liked EZ’s daughter Penelope and her friend Flora. Hitch a ride and travel west with this delightful book!

Amazon Link
Genre: Western Romance

Book cover for Sun Dance: Why Custer Really Lost The Battle of The Little Bighorn by Garry RodgersSun Dance
Why Custer Really Lost the Battle of The Little Bighorn
By Garry Rodgers
Of the non-fiction books I enjoy reading, I have a collection on George Armstrong Custer, Crazy Horse, Native American culture, the Plains Indian War, and the expansion west. When I saw that Garry Rodgers was offering an ARC of a book he’d written about the Battle of Little Bighorn, I jumped at the chance to read it. If you’re unfamiliar with Garry, he’s a retired homicide detective and forensic coroner. He also blogs for the Huff Post.

In Sun Dance…Why Custer Really Lost the Battle of The Little Bighorn, Rodgers examines not only Custer’s combat strategy and the reason why it failed but sets the playing field from Grant’s presidency down through army command. We get the mindset of the time, are witness to several conflicts leading up to LBH and understand the significance of the sacred Black Hills. Native American treaties are examined in detail (I was shocked by some I was unfamiliar with). Past military strategy is analyzed—remember that Custer was a Brevet Major General during the Civil War and no stranger to battle. As Rodgers points out, that may have been part of his undoing. He was unprepared for the mentality of the opposing force. Yes, mentality. In Sun Dance…Why Custer Really Lost the Battle of The Little Bighorn, Rodgers shows us why that state of mind—a collective state of mind—was key.

After reading this book, there is no question of the psychological impact of the Sun Dance ceremony and why that ritual was especially powerful when performed by Sitting Bull. The vision of the great Chief became a battle standard for the massive number of Native Americans ready to defend their way of life. Rodgers walks us through understanding how sheer numbers alone didn’t win LBH for the Native Americans. He backs up his theory with concise explanations and detailed research. Written in an easy to read style, with a staggering amount of resources included, this book is excellent for both dedicated students of history, and even armchair followers like me.

Although Sun Dance…Why Custer Really Lost the Battle of The Little Bighorn has yet to be released, you can follow Garry’s blog, to keep current of news. You can also request and ARC and learn more about the research behind the book HERE.

I was kind of all over the place with my reading in March, which happens sometimes, but everything I read was awesome. I’ll be sharing five more books tomorrow and hope to see you then!

69 thoughts on “March Book Reviews, Part 1

    • Custer and Libbie’s story always fascinated me too, Flossie. A handful of years ago (before I started publishing) I considered writing a book about Libbie, but the research (despite my vast collection of books and everything I’ve read) eventually was too monumental to undertake.


    • I’ve love stories of the west from the time I was a kid. I have a large collection of old westerns on DVD, and enjoy fiction and non-fiction about it. I don’t really care for modern western fiction but I love the old stuff with gunslingers and ranchers.:)
      I written a ton of westerns (mostly short stories), including one full length novel, all safely tucked away in a trunk. 😉

      I’ve also done a fair amount of non-fiction reading on the American Civil War and the American Revolution. What can I say? I’m a geek.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It was awesome reading, Priscilla. I’ve read so much about the battle of LBH and the events leading up to it. Garry approached it with an original slant and an idea of why the Native Americans were victorious that hasn’t been explored before.


    • Garry’s book is excellent, Sue. He really took a new approach to the events at LBH.
      And yes, I would love an ARC of Silent Mayhem. I will email you!
      I’m doing a happy dance 🙂


    • LOL! I was in editing mode over writing mode in March, which is probably why I was able to read so many titles this month, Jacqui.
      I love reading across genres, but this month was really all over the map, LOL!


  1. Mae, I’m impressed with your nine books read in March! These are excellent reviews and I am intrigued by a couple. I know barely anything about Little Big Horn apart from the name and Sun Dance sounds fascinating and Julia Donner’s book interests me! Yep, my TBR is growing but this is a good thing, I tell myself! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Annika! I love to read almost as much as I love to write, LOL. I am so glad you found a few titles to intrigue you. They were all excellent reads, and I’m always happy to share reviews and, hopefully, bring attention to other authors.

      I just started posting reviews this year, and have no clue why I never took the time to post them on my blog before, considering how much I read!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I shared this on my author Facebook page. Great reviews! I bought The Only Cop in Town after reading your review on it. A great reference book for my mysteries. I can’t believe you read NINE books in one month! Wow. And what a variety! This was fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Judi. Thanks so much for sharing!
      You’re going to love The Only Cop in Town. It’s packed with good information,and written in a humorous, easy to read style. It also helped me a great deal in getting the logistics down for law enforcement in my new WIP.
      I’m not sure I’ll ever hit nine books in a month again. It must have been the cold March weather, LOL.
      So glad you enjoyed the reviews!

      Liked by 1 person

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