Book Review Tuesday: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia #GothicFiction #HistoricalFantasy

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageI only have one review to share today. This is a book that lingered on my reading radar for a long time. Then I reached a point where I HAD to read it. I was in the mood for something spooky and gothic, grabbed it from Amazon, and devoured it in days. Surprisingly, I couldn’t give it five stars.


Set during the 1930s in Mexico, this Gothic novel hits all the right notes—a crumbling old mansion with a family cemetery, a dying patriarch, twisted family history, suicide and murders. Socialite, Noemi, travels to High Place, the home of her recently married cousin after her father receives a strange letter from Catalina that includes references to the walls “talking,” among other oddities.  When Noemi arrives, she finds her once vibrant cousin subdued and sickly, attended by members of her new husband’s family. Noemi is uncertain what to make of the handsome and charismatic, Virgil Doyle, but finds his stern and aloof Aunt Florence—Catalina’s primary caregiver—uncommunicative and regimental. Florence’s son, Francis, is somewhere in the middle, a bit timid, even awkward. These characters drive the plot, but revelations come slowly. Although set in Mexico, nothing really marks this as a Mexican mystery. Except for Noemi and Catalina, all the characters are English. For the most part, I was glued to the pages, especially the descriptions of the moldy, depressing mansion and cemetery. The history of the Doyle family, including their ownership of a once profitable silver mine is intriguing, as are glimpses of several Doyle ancestors and the murders and suicide that bind them. As the main character, Noemi is strong, an excellent protagonist.  I give an A+ for all the above, but the horror elements didn’t work for me. I was hoping for a good ghost story, but the “big bad” is something entirely different. That plot thread got tedious, especially in the middle of the book, although the ending is fast-paced and climatic. C+ for the horror elements/plot thread, so 4 stars overall. I did like how everything turned out, and would certainly read this author again.Mexican Gothic
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Set during the 1930s in Mexico, this Gothic novel hits all the right notes—a crumbling old mansion with a family cemetery, a dying patriarch, twisted family history, suicide and murders.

Socialite, Noemi, travels to High Place, the home of her recently married cousin after her father receives a strange letter from Catalina that includes references to the walls “talking,” among other oddities.

When Noemi arrives, she finds her once vibrant cousin subdued and sickly, attended by members of her new husband’s family. Noemi is uncertain what to make of the handsome and charismatic, Virgil Doyle, but finds his stern and aloof Aunt Florence—Catalina’s primary caregiver—uncommunicative and regimental. Florence’s son, Francis, is somewhere in the middle, a bit timid, even awkward. These characters drive the plot, but revelations come slowly. Although set in Mexico, nothing really marks this as a Mexican mystery. Except for Noemi and Catalina, all the characters are English.

For the most part, I was glued to the pages, especially the descriptions of the moldy, depressing mansion and cemetery. The history of the Doyle family, including their ownership of a once profitable silver mine is intriguing, as are glimpses of several Doyle ancestors and the murders and suicide that bind them. As the main character, Noemi is strong, an excellent protagonist.

I give an A+ for all the above, but the horror elements didn’t work for me. I was hoping for a good ghost story, but the “big bad” is something entirely different. That plot thread got tedious, especially in the middle of the book, although the ending is fast-paced and climatic. C+ for the horror elements/plot thread, so 4 stars overall. I did like how everything turned out, and would certainly read this author again.

4 Stars

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Gothic Fiction > Historical Fantasy


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this book. I was torn on writing the review because so much of the novel was spectacular. Is Mexican Gothic something you’d consider reading?

Book Review Tuesday: Liars and Thieves, Allies and Spies, Lord of Chaos #UnravelingtheVeil @Dwallacepeach

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageToday, I have the pleasure of reviewing an entire series, written by a stellar author.
D. Wallace Peach is a gifted story-teller. She not only delivers riveting fiction time after time, but does so using beautiful prose, vivid imagery, and complex world-building. It’s my pleasure to share my five star reviews for all three novels in her Unraveling the Veil series.


Book cover for Liars and Thieves gives appearance of old medieval tome Liars and Thieves
by D. Wallace Peach

In any D. Wallace Peach novel, you can count on a diverse cast of characters and an exceptionally detailed fantasy world. With Liars and Thieves, Peach delivers both, mesmerizing the reader from the first chapter. Goblins, elves, and changelings maintain tenuous relationships, one step away from erupting into war. At the center are Savan crystals, mined by the goblins, but necessary for the survival of all three races.

The trio of main characters—a temperamental elfin solider, a sly and cunning changeling, and a half-breed goblin—are inexplicably thrown together among a backdrop of political machinations and festering hostilities. All three have reasons to distrust, even loathe the others. As a reader, it takes a while to warm up to Alue, Talin and Naj, as none come off as the typically crafted fantasy characters, but all are equally compelling. Glimpses into their backstories are doled out morsels at a time, deftly reeling in the reader.

I can’t applaud the author enough for her brilliant use of description, gift for imagery, and—most especially—her complex worldbuilding, all of which held me spellbound. If you enjoy flawed characters, a plot that moves like a chess game with moves and countermoves, plus exquisite writing, don’t miss Liars and Thieves. I am ready and eager to dive into book two!

5 Stars

Amazon Link
Genre: Dark Fantasy Horror > Sword and Sorcery Fantasy


Book cover for Allies and Spies gives appearance of old medieval tomeAllies and Spies
by D. Wallace Peach

The danger ramps up in the second installment of this series. Alue, Naj, and Talin, tenuous allies forced to work together at the end of book one, now find themselves dependent on one another as the mysterious earthquakes and disappearances responsible for bringing them together increase in frequency. The richly detailed world Peach crafted in the first novel of this engaging trilogy is more closely examined as the reader learns more about the three races at its core—elves, goblins, and changelings. The power of shifting is key to how things play out. Peril is constant, scenes hurtling into each other as Alue, Naj, and Talin are thrust from one dangerous situation into the next.

But it isn’t just the constant menace that elevates this book in its genre. Character development is given equal attention. I loved seeing the roller coaster range of emotions in the three main characters as they shuffle through various degrees of skepticism, mistrust, forced reliance, and slowly-gained but often questionable loyalty. There are several surprises, including one mind-blowing revelation regarding one of the three leads that left me slack-jawed and stunned.

Descriptions are engrossing, immersing the reader in Peach’s vividly imagined world. The writing is polished and professional, making this middle book a pleasure to read, as it sets the stage for what I’m sure will be an exceptional conclusion. Now, thoroughly invested in the lives of the three leads, and the squabbling races that comprise this world, I’m poised to launch into book three. When you want epic fantasy at its best, you can always count on D. Wallace Peach to deliver!

5 Stars

Amazon Link
Genre: Dark Fantasy Horror > Sword and Sorcery Fantasy


Book cover for Lord of Chaos gives appearance of old medieval tomeLord of Chaos
by D. Wallace Peach

In the concluding novel of this outstanding trilogy, the alliance between the three lead characters¬—Alue, Talin, and Naj—fray, even as tenuous relationships between their respective races—elf, changeling, and goblin—completely break down. War looms and battles erupt. With changelings able to assume the guise of others, including those in positions of authority, deception abounds. The action is constant, barely giving the reader a moment to catch their breath. There are also multiple scenes, especially those that take place in the Authority, that had me squirming as I awaited the outcome.

As in the other books, the plot threads are tightly woven and complex, with surprises along the way. The writing is polished and professional, scenes intensively vivid. This is one writer who knows how to craft a riveting tale while delivering a subtle message. A superb conclusion to a phenomenal series. I will miss these characters.

5 Stars

Amazon Link
Genre: Dark Fantasy Horror > Sword and Sorcery Fantasy


I recommend this series to anyone who enjoys high fantasy or books with complex and exquisite world building. If fantasy is not your normal genre of reading, I expect you will be enthralled regardless, given this author’s superb talent. Happy reading!

Book Review Tuesday: The Shadows by Alex North, The Girls Weekend by Jody German #HorrorSuspense #SupernaturalMystery #WomenSleuths

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageHello, friends, and welcome to my first Book Review Tuesday of the New Year. Although I was offline for November and December, I did manage to read several books—not nearly as many as I hoped. I even failed in my Goodreads Challenge this year, only managing 65 of the 70 books I’d hoped to read. That aside, the next few Tuesdays will be devoted to books I devoured at the end of 2020. Let’s get started!


Book cover shows white hand on black background, silhouettes if four people at knuckles of fingers, their shadows stretching to form gaps between the fingersThe Shadows
by Alex North

I became a fan of Alex North after reading his first book. The Whisper Man. When I read about North’s inspiration for The Shadows—the horrid but true-life Slender Man case—I was immediately intrigued. It’s difficult to imagine how the assailants in the Slender Man case could have been motivated to such an atrocious act by an internet forum. North takes that idea and puts his own spin on it, changing the killers from teen girls to teen boys.

The book is told in first person and third person with two timelines, past and present. As a teen, the main character, Paul Adams, was involved with a group of four, led by Charlie Crabtree, an anti-social obsessed with lucid dreaming. Paul breaks ties with the others when Charlie’s behavior becomes fanatical. When a good friend is killed and the death is attributed to Charlie (after which he disappears) Paul is saddled with grief, guilt, and anger. He leaves town at eighteen, hoping to put the tragedy behind him.

Twenty-five years later, another teen is killed, the murder eerily reminiscent of the tragedy in Paul’s past. At the same time, he returns home, needing to deal with his mother’s dementia. The past returns in the form of internet forums devoted to Cratbtree, the old killing, and a sinister cult-like figure known as Red Hands.

North is a good storyteller and he spins a complex tale. I was surprised by the major twists at the end and the tale held my interest. Paul’s POV is delivered in first person in both past and present, while a detective in the present is relayed in third person POV.

I am a fan of books that switch between past and present, and although I enjoyed this book, there were moments that frustrated me. The gaps between past and present often stretched too long. When there was a huge hook ending on a chapter in the past, the stretch to return took too long because of the need for two POVs in the present. By that time, I had forgotten or lost the momentum from the past. Add in lucid dreaming sections, and scenes occasionally became muddled for me.

There was also a storyline that I felt was plodding, but at the end becomes a key element. Brilliant, really. Overall this is a slow burn, and the reader needs to stick with the story. Not as riveting as The Whisper Man, but still an intricately spun tale. I think it may have been better sticking solely with the main plot thread. I generally love complex novels with multiple threads, but in this case, it bogged things down a bit too much.

3.5 Stars rounded up to 4 for review ratings

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Horror Suspense > Supernatural Mystery > Supernatural Thriller


Book cover has lake at night with house in distance, windows blazing with lightThe Girls Weekend
by Jody Gehrman

Several former college friends, now in their thirties, reunite for a weekend at a sprawling estate owned by the most successful of the group. Sadie MacTavish has achieved J.K. Rowling like fame through a series of middle grade novels that were optioned for the big screen. Life with her handsome Scottish husband, and beautiful teen daughter appears idyllic and perfect.

By contrast, June Moody’s boyfriend has just dumped her via text, and she hasn’t become the great American novelist she once envisioned. The last thing she wants to do is spend a weekend with her former frenemy/rival, Sadie, and Sadie’s husband, Ethan, who once proposed marriage to June. But mutual friend, Amy, is expecting a baby, and Sadie is the one throwing the shower.

June joins Sadie and Amy, along with their remaining friends from college–Em and Kimiko. It’s obvious from the get-go Sadie is a control freak who manipulates everyone and everything in her orbit. When she turns up missing after the first night, blood splatter and a broken statue point to foul play.

There are plenty of undercurrents and baggage among the characters. Amy has suffered mental problems most of her life, Kimiko has a fondness for drink and drugs, Em wants to keep something hidden, and Ethan isn’t as devoted as Sadie has led everyone to believe. A landscaper who lives on the property was overheard arguing with Sadie, and her daughter’s boyfriend isn’t well received by mom.

Suspects, much?

This book kept me flipping pages as the relationships between the characters become more detailed, many overlapping as the chapters progress. Watching all the pieces fall into place is a bit like a slo-mo train wreck. I’m usually able to figure out “whodunit” before the end of most mysteries, but my initial guess proved wrong.

As the narrator, June is a relatable character, one it’s easy to get behind, especially when she finds herself the prime suspect due to her previous relationship with Ethan.

Overall, I found the story suspenseful, but at the same time breezy and fast-paced. The writing is exquisite, with many turns of phrase and descriptions that made me stop to soak them in. Highly enjoyable and atmospheric!

5 Stars

Amazon Link
Genre: Amateur Sleuths > Women Sleuths


Thanks for visiting with me today. It’s great to be back sharing reviews again. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! 🙂

Book Review Tuesday: The Last Pilgrim by Noelle Granger, Pretty Evil New England #truecrime @SueColetta, Magical Whispers #Poetry @BalroopShado

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I missed doing a Book Review Tuesday last week. Hubby and I have started a new remodeling project so my reading time took a hit. Today, however, I’ve got some great books to share. Two are based on historic accounts and actual events, the third is a soothing and mesmerizing book of poetry. Take a look . . .


Book cover for The Last Pilgrim by Noelle Granger shoes girl in colonial dress standing on shore looking to clipper ship at seaThe Last Pilgrim
by Noelle Granger

The Last Pilgrim is an amazingly researched historical novel detailing the life of Mary Allerton Cushman, the last survivor from the Mayflower. Mary was four years old when she arrived at the Plymouth Colony. She lived to be 88, dying in 1699. During her lengthy life she experienced the hardships, upheaval, and struggle to survive in a new land. Her growth from curious, wayward child to strong, intelligent woman takes the reader on a remarkable journey populated by historical figures and events.

The author delves into multiple issues ranging from political disputes, relations with neighboring tribes, even religious disagreements. Everyday life is presented in such engrossing detail it’s easy to lose track of time as Granger immerses her readers in a world all but unfathomable today. Her passion for those she has undertaken to write about, along her meticulous research, shines through in every passage. I found myself reluctant to stop reading at night when sleep called.


Close up of a 19th century woman from nose to chest, with blood splatter over imagePretty Evil New England: True Stories of Violent Vixens and Murderous Matriarchs
by Sue Coletta

In Pretty Evil New England, author Sue Coletta takes a look at five 19th century female serial killers and their victims, including how these women—all who moved within genteel society without arousing suspicion—perpetrated their crimes. In some cases, the killers were highly respected individuals and often times, the victims were members of their own family. Coletta’s meticulous research provides detailed backgrounds of each killer, along with glimpses into the disturbed workings of their mind and how each sought to justify their actions. There is insanity, narcissism, and heartless manipulation, among other twisted motivations. I found Coletta’s explanations of how female serial killers differ from their male counterparts surprisingly eye-opening.

The book is divided into sections, each devoted to a particular killer and her victims. But it isn’t just the actual crimes Coletta focuses on. She also shows us how each woman was apprehended, then places the reader in the courtroom for an in depth look at her trial, and the outcome. The subject matter, while grim in nature, is in no way gruesome to read, and Coletta’s manner of delivery is thoroughly engrossing, the writing flawless. I highly recommend Pretty Evil New England to fans of true crime, AND crime fiction and suspense novels. The author held me spellbound from cover to cover and I finished this book in two days.

I received an ARC of this book for an honest review.
I give Pretty Evil New England 5 Stars!

Pre-Order from Amazon (Releases November 1)
Genre: Biographies of Serial Killers > History of New England U.S.


Book cover for Magical Whispers shows waterfall tumbling over rocksMagical Whispers
by Balroop Singh

This beautiful collection of poems focuses mostly on elements of nature, offering stunning verses that speak to heart. The author uses words like a paintbrush, conjuring images that seep with tranquility, ebbing like a gentle tide into the spirit and mind. Spend time with each exquisite verse. These are poems to absorb and savor. Poetry is personal and touches each in a different manner. Verses resonate differently with each individual, but I have no doubt there is something mesmerizing for each in this collection that varies in tone from serene, to mystical, to thoroughly enchanting. Those that particularly resonated with me included Life is much More, Magic, A Concert, and A Moon Fairy (among others). I am frequently in awe of this poet’s skill with weaving words on a loom. If you love words…if you love deftly layered verse, this collection is not to be missed.

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Poetry

I give Magical Whispers 5 Stars!


Thanks for joining me today. This will be my last Book Review Tuesday for quite some time, as I plan to go dark during the month of November to concentrate on NaNoWriMo. I’ll still pop in on Story Empire, as I have responsibilities there, but otherwise you won’t see me online much, if at all. I’ll miss everyone but hope you’ll understand my need to focus on my WIP—I really MUST get it done! Hopefully, when I resurface in December, I’ll be sharing the wonderful news that I met my 50K goal and finished the thing 🙂

I do have a guest scheduled this Thursday and hope you’ll return to chat and wish him well.

Book Review Tuesday: The Ballad of Mrs. Molony #UrbanFantasy #SuperHeroFantasy @Virgilante

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageIt’s pumpkin weather and I have a great pumpkin read to share today. Craig Boyack has a new Lizzie and the Hat adventure, and it’s a perfect fit for this month. The great thing about Lizzie and the Hat novellas is that you can read them in any order. Each story is complete to itself. They’re also an ideal size for a fairly quick read.

And let’s not forget the Hat or his trademark snark. I LOVE that character! 🙂


Book cover for The Ballad of Mrs. Molony shows straw cowboy hat on wooden table with cobwebs, pitchfork beside tableThe Ballad of Mrs. Molony
by C. S. Boyack

C. S. Boyack’s unique crime fighting duo is back in a new Lizzie and The Hat adventure. Not familiar with these two? Lizzie is a twenty-something who wields a mean pistol and plays the upright bass in a cover band with the help of the hat. He may look like a fedora (or whatever hat style he chooses), but he’s actually a being from another world—capable of zinging some of the best snarky dialogue you’re likely to encounter. These two play off each other with witty banter and plenty of adventure as they go up against supernatural bad guys. This time, it’s a group of vampires haunting the rodeo circuit.

That makes for a lot of colorful happenings as Lizzie, the hat, and their band take on the country music scene, mingling with broncobusters and cowboys. Boyack treats us to plenty of rodeo experiences in addition to Lizzie and the hat working to track down the vamps. Some of the moments that stood out for me included Lizzie target-shooting ghouls in a cemetery, egged on by the hat’s snarky asides; a vampire with a speech impediment; the hat’s addiction to “my internet” and his ongoing insistence the band should have a fog machine. And then there’s Mrs. Molony—but you’ll need to read this supernatural romp yourself to find out just how she plays into the story. Clever, clever, clever!

AMAZON LINK
black bat with wings outstretchedGenre:  Superhero Fantasy > Superhero Science Fiction > Paranormal & Urban Fantasy

I give The Ballad of Mrs. Molony 5 Stars, and 5 Spooky Bats


And speaking of spooky things—if you’re out and about the blogosphere, you can find me at Teri Polen’s place today. Want to find out what book scared me so much, I threw it in the trash? Hop on over for my turn on Teri’s Halloween-themed Bad Moon Rising.

Book Review Tuesday: The Lab by D.L. Cross #AlienInvasion #AlienEncounters @stacitroilo

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageHappy Book Review Tuesday! Today, I’m sharing my review of The Lab, the closing chapter in the Astral Conspiracy Series by D.L. Cross (a.k.a. Staci Troilo). I’ve been glued to these books from the moment they released, reading one after the other as soon as new titles became available. All five books and the prequel are now available for download, so you can start at the beginning and read straight through, back-to-back. Trust me—you’ll be glued to the pages!


book cover for The Lab by D.L. Cross shows flying saucer hovering over an one story building at night, emitting ray of light into buildingThe Lab
Book 5 Astral Conspiracy Series
by D. L. Cross

After breathlessly following this series from Book one (and the prequel), I found myself riveted to the closing novel. The Astrals have found humanity lacking and it’s only a matter of time until they release their judgement on Earth.

Each chapter and each plot thread—of which there are many, expertly woven together—are ticking time bombs. Catch your breath on one, and Cross plunges you into another maelstrom of danger, action, and double-crosses. The sense of urgency in this novel is a pot-boiler.

All of the plot lines that have been steadily building through the previous books meet head-on in an explosive conclusion. It’s difficult to say much without giving away spoilers, but I find myself startled to note how my opinions altered regarding certain characters.

It’s difficult to name a single standout character (each are deftly drawn and multi-faceted with plenty of gray areas) but the relationship between Nadia and Beck—how it changed and grew over the course of the books—was a highpoint for me. By book five, I’d also started to look at reptars differently, especially one in particular. Journeying through five books in a world populated by Titans, Mullahs, the Separated, the Nine, Reptars, Lightborn, and humans has been a astounding adventure.

In the end, not everything is wrapped up with a tight bow. It makes me wonder if there is more planned, or if the author chose to leave certain elements open to the readers’ imagination. All of the major storylines and events are concluded, but there are a few surprises that leave the door cracked slightly ajar.

For anyone who enjoys intelligent and fast-paced science-fiction mixed with vast dollops of mystery, suspense and brilliant character development, I highly recommend this series. It stands among my top reads for 2020!

graphic of flying saucer emitting a beam of lightI give The Lab 5 STARS and 5 BIG GLOWY UFOS!!

AMAZON LINK
GENRE: Alien Invasion Science-Fiction > Colonization Science-Fiction


Thank you for joining me for another Book Review Tuesday. I know several of you are reading this series or have it on your radar. With the weather turning colder (at least in the northern hemisphere), it’s a great time to curl up inside with a book. And if you’re lucky enough to be in the warmth of the southern hemisphere, there is nothing like a good read by the pool or on the beach. Just watch out for the reptars!

Book Review Tuesday: The Stones by D. L. Cross #Aliens #AstralConspiracySeries

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageHappy Tuesday! I’ve missed a week or two of book reviews, but it’s not because I haven’t been reading. I’ve been immersed in the Harry Dresden series and haven’t been posting reviews of those books since there are so many. Recently, I came up for air to branch into something different and–OH MY FREAKING WORD!–what a diversion it turned out to be. I can’t praise The Stones enough. It ticked all my reading boxes, but I’ll let the review speak for  itself…


The StonesBook cover for The Stones by D.L. Cross shows two monolith stone slabs with space ships in background
D.L. Cross

If you’re looking for a fast paced, adrenaline fueled novel with stellar writing, breathless adventure, and a highly diverse cast of characters, look no further. In The Stones, book two of the Astral Conspiracy Series, aliens have arrived on Earth and they’re far from friendly. Nor do they resemble little green men. Creepy, bizarre, vividly imagined, these are beings you DO NOT want to cross. I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoilers, only that the titans freaked me out as much as, or more than, the reptars.

Professor Landon Thorne, once ridiculed for his theories about alien life, comes into possession of two “firestones” that may be tied to Atlantis and the aliens, but before he can discover more about their properties, he loses possession of both. With various factions vying for the firestones, aliens roaming the planet, an underground resistance movement, government agents, crosses and double crosses, D. L. Cross sets a breathless pace for readers. There are characters to love, characters to DESPISE, and plenty of nail-biting action. The chapters are energy fueled, most ending on jaw-dropping hooks, making it all but impossible to put this book down. With its complex plot, I could easily see The Stones/ Astral Conspiracy a Netflix series or a blockbuster movie. One of my favorite reads of 2020.

5 Honking Big Luminous stars!

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Alien Invasion Science Fiction > First Contact Science Fiction


Ready to embark on a phenomenal reading adventure? Then hop onboard. I highly recommend getting lost in the Astral Conspiracy Series. Once engaged, you won’t want to leave.

As for The Stones, I have one word: Titans.

Let’s just say I’m equally enthralled and freaked out by them! You’ll have to read the book to learn more 🙂

Book Review Tuesday: This Last Chance, Songs of Heartstrings, Fiona Finch and the Pink Valentine @dlfinnauthor @mhurdle112 @teagangeneviene

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageHi, friends. If you live in the U.S., I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July holiday. We had relatives on hubby’s side visit from out of state. I’m still freaky about the social distancing thing, but I am venturing out more these days—visiting family, and going to stores. We even went to a restaurant for the first time. Not sure I’ll do that again, but we wanted to get together with a friend who is leaving for the summer. I have to say the restaurant did a good job with social distancing and sanitizing.

And now for the latest round of book reviews . . .


Book cover for This Last Chance by D. L. Finn has glowing red eyes looming above angel wingsThis Last Chance
by D. L. Finn

I really enjoyed the combination of mystery and supernatural elements in this book. On the mortal realm, the story revolves around Amber who is determined to discover who murdered her sister. In the spiritual realm, angels and evildwels battle for control of human souls. At the center of that conflict is Nester, an evidwel who suddenly finds himself questioning his beliefs. Toss in a remote location, plus a group of potential suspects trapped under one roof by a snowstorm, and you’ve got a tense and intriguing plot.

I loved the claustrophobic atmosphere created by the snowstorm, and the characters (both human and supernatural) present a varied and interesting group. Nester is a standout, as is Ed, an angel. The quips between them are priceless. This Last Chance fuses mystery, spiritual warfare, even a hint of potential romance. When the climatic scenes—on both planes—happen, there are more than a few surprises in store. An engaging read!

5 STARS

Amazon Link
Genre: Supernatural Thriller > Paranormal Suspense


Book cover for Songs of Heartstrings, a collection of poetry by Miriam HurdleSongs of Heartstrings
by Miriam Hurdle

The author of this collection of poetry and short snippets takes us on a journey through life—her life—as seen through the music of words and photographs. She shares experiences through marriage, parenthood, the loss of loved ones, even cancer treatments. Heartfelt and often spiritual, the book resonates with strength, love, and faith.

There are multiple poems and snippets that touched me, but a few that really stood out are Cocoon-Butterfly, A Tribute to My Dad, and Gratitude for Being. Each reader will no doubt find poems that speak to their heart. Although this collection is a reflection of the author’s life, the beauty and spirit of the work brings something for everyone.

5 STARS

Amazon Link
Genre: Religious and Inspirational Poetry > Personal Growth and Christianity


Book cover with cute illustration of woman in steampunk dress with pink umbrella and a duck by her skirtFiona Finch and the Pink Valentine
by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

This is a cute, whimsical novella that is sure to leave you with a smile. The characters are fun, the story highly imaginative, and the descriptions dazzle like a kaleidoscope of vibrant color. Fiona Finch is a young woman with a fondness for pink.

Her brother, Steele, is an inventor whose mentor carries a heart full of unrequited love for the woman he let get away thirty-five years ago. Toss in a scene-stealing duck, a masquerade party, and a pink valentine, and you have all the elements for a light-hearted romp with threads of romance. If that isn’t enough, the ending with Quellie the duck will have you grinning ear to ear. Simply delightful!

5 STARS

Amazon Link
Genre: Steampunk > Holiday Fiction > Fantasy


That’s it from me for today, but I hope you are enjoying plenty of summer reading!

Book Review Tuesday: The Accident, Wall of Silence, Bad Habits @TracyBuchanan @judypost

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over image

Happy Tuesday, friends!I have a new roundup of books for you. I’m still sharing reviews of books I read during April quarantine, along with a newer title. Lately, I’ve been immersed in a single series (Harry Dresden), but we’ll chat about that in the weeks to come. 🙂

In the meantime, I hope one of these fabulous novels tickles your reading fancy.



Book cover for The Accident by Natalie Barelli shows woman from back walking up stepsThe Accident
by Natalie Barelli

I believe I’ve found a new auto-buy author, if the rest of Natalie Barelli’s work is anything like The Accident. Katherine is a shining star on a fast-track career, plus a single mom with a teenage daughter. She becomes friends with Eve, who worms her way into Katherine’s life and her place of employment. When the two have a girls’ night out, Katherine wants to call an Uber, knowing she’s had too much to drink. Eve talks her into driving, pointing out the roads will be deserted. Halfway home, Katherine strikes a pedestrian on a lonely road. Eve convinces her they need to get back in the car and take off. It’s a decision that will become a nightmare for Katherine as her life spirals out of control. But as each day passes and she wrestles with what happened, she realizes Eve is not at all the person she originally thought.

The book gets very twisty very quickly. I blew through it in two sittings, glued to the pages. It’s fast-paced, does require a stretch of credibility in a few places, but is pure popcorn enjoyment. Part soap-opera, part Lifetime movie, it sucks you in quickly and doesn’t let go until the thoroughly satisfying ending. If you enjoy psychological thrillers, this is an excellent read. I’m already scouting out more books by this author.

5 Stars
Amazon Link
Genre: Psychological Fiction > Women’s Psychological Fiction


Book cover for Wall of Silence by Tracy Buchanan shows closeup of trees in forest with title  laid overtop imageWall of Silence
by Tracy Buchanan

Wall of Silence presents an interesting mystery and an interesting concept. Melissa Byatt has an ideal life with three wonderful children and a popular husband who is running for a local office. She lives in an upscale “forest” community, with neighbors who look out for one another. Her childhood was less than ideal, but she’s risen above it and has so much for which she’s grateful.

One day she comes home from a bike ride to find her husband stabbed, her three children clustered around him with the knife. It quickly becomes apparent one of them is responsible, but which one and why? When the police arrive, Melissa decides to protect her children at all cost. With her husband, Patrick, in a coma waffling between life and death, Melissa must unravel what happened to so drastically alter her perfect family.

As the book progresses, the reader gains insight not only to the Melissa’s children, her in-laws, and her childhood, but also the neighbors in the community of Forest Grove. A neighborhood Facebook group is used for back and forth chit-chat (and gossip) to advance the story, which I thought was a brilliant and intriguing move by the author. Slowly, old secrets, suspicions and grudges come to light, and many are not who they seem at first glance.

There were times I was thoroughly aggravated by Melissa’s behavior, and the behavior of her children, much of which contributed to the slow build of the story. This is not a book that moves at a fast clip but a mystery that falls into place bits and pieces at a time. The tension is constant and there is always some new nugget of information to keep the reader flipping pages. I found this an intriguing mystery and would definitely read more by this author in the future.

5 Stars
Amazon Link
Genre: British and Irish Literary Fiction > Psychological Fiction


Book cover for Bad Habits by Judi Lynn shows shows bloody revolver in background, cute redhead in foreground on a laptop, yellow Bentley behind herBad Habits
by Judi Lynn

There is a lot of heart in this story. To be sure, there is mystery too—murder, drugs, a crime to solve—but the characters themselves bring an entirely different dimension. Lux hasn’t had a great upbringing or childhood, but she’s independently wealthy. She finds the loving environment she lacked with her own parents with her best friend Gabbie’s family, including Gabbie’s brothers. She’s especially drawn to Keon, a chef, and soon realizes what she feels surpasses simple fondness.

As Keon and Lux grow closer, they find themselves caught up in a web of trouble revolving around Keon’s brother, Tyson. The cast of characters is large, but there are many standouts, including Pete, a cop who’s attracted to Gabbie. I also liked Ian, who found himself in difficult situations even as he tried to do the right thing, and his sister, Shelly—a fifteen-year-old learning the value of self-worth over game-playing and manipulation.

The mystery ties together neatly at the end, but it is the warmth among the characters that brought me a special smile when I finished the story. I also have to mention that I really loved the addition of Lux’s yellow Bentley as a cute aside. Although this story is complete, the book has all the earmarks of an engaging series. A pleasure to read.

5 Stars
Amazon Link
Genre: Amateur Sleuths > Women Sleuths


Although I did a minimal amount of writing during shelter-in-place months, books were my friend. I still have a few more to share before I catch up to the present. You just can’t go wrong with books. Here’s hoping you’ve had a few entraining tales to distract yourself as well! 🙂

Book Review Tuesday: Sunset Beach, The Player, Watching Glass Shatter @JacqBiggar @jamescudney4

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageHappy almost June and welcome to summer! Yeah, I get that summer doesn’t “officially” happen until June 21st, but Memorial Day has always been the threshold to summer fun, including the key opening of east coast beaches and amusement parks. Since I live in a tourist town, I think of Memorial Day as being the gateway to summer. Even though COVID-19 has put a damper on festivities, I still feel the change.

Let it be known that I FREAKING LOVE SUMMER!

Yes, I appreciate all of the seasons, but give me my pool, my Kindle (or a fat paperback), a grill, and swimming weather, and I will pass each day in sheer bliss.

And speaking of Kindles, I have several reviews to share. I read these books in March and April during shelter-in-place time. My county is finally moving to yellow phase this Friday, but I am already back at work. I won’t be able to share all the books I read while sheltering, but I would like to share some standouts. As Jackie Gleason was fond of saying, and away we go . . .


Book cover for sunset beach by Jacquie Biggar shows young couple embrace in front of ocean at sunsetSunset Beach
by Jacquie Biggar

Trace and Mona are both single parents with teenage daughters and history that goes back to their dating years in high school. Trace made the mistake of cheating on Mona with Sally, now his ex-wife. In a small town, paths cross and gossip flies. When Mona decides to run for Mayor against Trace, life becomes even more complicated, especially as these two struggle to navigate underlying feelings for each other.

This is a sweet romance with engaging characters set in a charming town. Of special mention, Trace and Mona’s daughters, Bailey and Amber, provide a secondary plot line that shines every bit as brightly as the first. The ending is superb, providing the perfect HEA you’d expect from a story like this. A winner all the way around.

5 STARS

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Romance > Parenting Teenagers  


Book cover for The Player b Jacquie Biggar shows orange tabby cat and man and woman on opposing sides, from feet to knees, hockey skates in foregroundThe Player
by Jacquie Biggar

The tables get turned in this tale of a superstar male hockey player plagued by a female stalker. Roy Donaldson has everything going for him, except an ex-girlfriend who doesn’t know how to let go. When she does everything she can to cast him in a bad light, a public relations representative steps in to repair the unjust damage to his image.

Enter Patience Kennedy, the single daughter in a family with four brothers who knows zilch about sports, but plenty about people. When the two retreat to Roy’s home in the woods to work on strategy, sparks fly. Actually, sparks fly from the first meeting between these two, and it’s fun to watch their attraction run from frustration to simmer to bloom. Toss in a stray orange tabby and you’ve got a feel-good formula destined to bring an HEA. But reaching that point presents a path twined with danger and suspense.

Jacquie Biggar mixes all the right ingredients, even touching on mental illness and family relations both good and bad. The author’s breezy writing, witty observations, and dialogue are a pleasure to read. Many times, I stopped to marvel at a particular turn of phrase or reread a section for sheer enjoyment. I’ve enjoyed everything Ms. Biggar has written. She is a skilled author who knows her craft, but The Player may just be my favorite to date. What a feel-good gem!

5 STARS

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries > Hockey


Book cover for Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney shows broken glass with large hole in center, shatter lines forking outward from holeWatching Glass Shatter
by James J. Cudney

Olivia Glass has the ideal life with five wonderful grown sons, grandchildren, and a successful husband. It all begins to crumble when her husband, Ben, dies in an automobile accident. Worse than facing life without him, is the letter he left behind, explaining that one of their children isn’t really hers. When her baby was born dead, Ben switched the infant with a different child the birth mother wanted to adopt out. But which of her five sons?

Determined to unearth the truth before sharing it with her children, Olivia decides to visit each son in their home. This is where Cudney weaves a tangled web, family drama at its best. As the book progresses, Olivia is confronted by shock after shock, realizing each son has kept a personal secret from her and others. Five brothers, five secrets.

Each brother is thoroughly fleshed out with his own particular strengths and weakness. Olivia’s character becomes clear through her actions and how others see and interact with her. There are explosive moments, heart wrenching moments, touching moments, splashes of humor. As a reader, you’ll feel frustration, melancholy, joy and contentment. The author deftly pulls multiple heartstrings in this tale of a family imploding, only to come out stronger in the end. And let’s not forget, that among these five men, one is not really Olivia’s son.

A thoroughly satisfying read.

5 STARS

AMAZON LINK
Genre:  Fiction > Family Drama


Hopefully, I’ve sparked your interest with one of these reviews. I’ve got plenty more to share, but in the meantime, I wish you happy reading!