Reviews on January Reads

A while ago I made some noise about posting reviews on my blog. I never did this in the past, but hope to do it monthly as I move ahead. I’m afraid posting reviews and blurbs will make the post too long, so I’m only going to share my reviews. If you’re interested, click the Amazon link under each book for the blurb and more information.

To kick off 2019, these are the books I read in January. Maybe one of them will appeal to you.


book cover for Final Girls, a novel by Riley SagerYou know all those slasher movies where a group of teens are stalked by some crazed killer and when everything drills down to a close, there’s only one person remaining? That’s the idea behind Final Girls.

In this case, Quincy Carpenter is the “final girl” of Pine Cottage. The sole survivor of a grisly night when her friends were butchered in the woods. Ten years later, she has her life almost back on track, when Sam, another final girl shows up on her doorstep. The plot quickly gets twisty. While I thought the book was a little slow in getting started, it’s a page-turner once Quincy and Sam begin interacting. Riley Sager weaves layers of mystery, including plenty of threads that lead the reader astray for several surprises at the end.

Suspenseful, tense and satisfying. A recommended read!

Amazon Link


Book cover for Verses of the Dead by Preston & ChildWow! I’ve been addicted to this series from Book 1, and Verses of the Dead is a home run in so many ways. I had doubts about Pendergast working with a partner, but the addition of Agent Coldmoon was a stroke of genius. Not only is Coldmoon a great character, but it gave readers a chance to see Pendergast–along with all his quirks and unorthodox methods of working–through his eyes. Toss is a new boss for Pendergast, new location (Miami Beach) and a string of bizarre murders and you’ve got a perfect recipe to hold the reader glued to the page.

The authors verge away from anything supernatural this time and stick to crime-solving, something Pendergast does exceptionally well. I love “watching” him work. The murders, the method in which they occur, and the reason behind them unfold in an ever startling trail of clues. Pendergast (and Coldmoon) get to interact with several new, interesting characters. Cab driver Axel was one of my favorites. The high-speed taxi ride through Miami is a blast.

I also have to applaud the authors for creating an unusual killer with an unusual motive. Although I love the supernatural twists in many of the Pendergast novels, I admit to enjoying the intriguing details of crime-solving best. I also believe this is a book you could pick up, having never read a single Pendergast novel before, and thoroughly enjoy without knowing any background from the previous books. The new location, new boss, and addition of a partner all go to “seeing” Pendergast through fresh eyes. Highly recommended!

Amazon Link

NOTE: Aloysius X. L. Pendergast is a book boyfriend. I love this guy! These books are pure addiction for me. Although this is book 18, it’s a great place to start for an introduction to the character if you’re unfamiliar with this series.


Book cover for Voyage of the Lanternfish by author, C. S. Boyack, shows bow of old clipper ship with glowing lanternfish headWhat a rollicking, magical, high-octane, deftly plotted adventure! Remember when Dorothy steps from her black-and-white world into the Land of Oz for the first time? That explosion of color, wonder, and delight is equivalent to what the reader experiences in Voyage of the Lanternfish.

Wow, where to begin? I won’t reiterate the plot (click the link and read the blurb), but I will say you’re in for a treat with this story of pirates, high-sea adventure, a diverse cast of characters and plenty of bizarre creatures. Where else will you encounter root monsters, an anvil bird, Fu dogs, owlcats, and a moving reef? And those are just some of the imaginative beings Boyack introduces with his latest release.

I developed a special fondness for the root monsters with their unwavering loyalty, nightly story-telling sessions, rabid delight in receiving names, and atrocious mangling of language. Of special note: You can’t read this book and not appreciate the cleverness of “I I I I”

Trust me. 🙂

The cast is every bit as colorful as the creatures and extremely diverse in backgrounds. They each have such strong personalities, it’s hard to choose a favorite. Even secondary characters and third level characters get plenty of moments to shine. The battle scenes involving mortars, guns, and claiming ships are perfectly executed. I was dazzled and glued to the pages.

I have read several books by this author but this one is in a league of its own. Hop aboard and set sail. You won’t be disappointed!

Amazon Link

Note: Craig Boyack is one of my Story Empire co-authors. I’m giving an extra shout-out here, because he really nailed it with this book!


book cover for No Exit by Taylor AdamsDid you ever read a book and just KNOW it should be a movie? I’ll be shocked if a filmmaker doesn’t pick this story up. According to my Kindle, I devoured 70% of the novel in one sitting. I would have finished the whole thing if I hadn’t needed to call it a night and get some sleep. The next day I tuned out everything else and dug in, irritated by any distraction that pulled me from the pages. This book held me GLUED!!!

Darby Thorne is a wonderful protagonist, an average college student who likes to take rubbings of gravestones. When a blizzard strands her at a rest area with four strangers, she makes a horrifying discovery. One of them has a young girl caged in a van outside. Seeking help, Darby tips her hand to the wrong person—the kidnapper.

Hooboy! I applaud the author for creating one of the most twisted, psychotic villains I’ve ever encountered in a novel. Even more for giving Darby the inner strength and courage to stand up to this predator. She is clever and strong, but never portrayed as a kick-ass hero. She does what she does out of necessity, full of doubts and weaknesses along the way. Jay (the girl in the cage) is also one tough cookie, as she proves when she and Darby team up.

Throughout the long night, the two play a game of cat and mouse with Jay’s abductor. One that involves intellect, physical strength, endurance, and constantly puts Darby in the crosshairs of impossible situations. Her goal is to survive until morning when snow plows are certain to reach the rest area. In the meantime, she is cut off from the world with a dying cell phone, a young girl depending on her, and a kidnapper determined to silence her. It’s hard to say more about this book without giving away spoilers.

There are numerous twists and surprises along the way with a constant buildup of suspense. Sometimes it creeps, sinister and edgy, other times it explodes. The characters are well developed, and the snowbound setting adds a suffocating feeling of claustrophobia. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If I could give it more than five stars I would. I have no doubt this will become one of my favorite reads of 2019.

Amazon Link


Book cover for Linda McCartney: A Portrait by Danny FiieldsAs a diehard Beatles fan, and most especially a McCartney fan, I’ve always been interested in anything related to Paul or Linda. I’ve read several books about the Beatles and Paul, and was excited to find a book on Linda. I enjoyed reading this, getting a glimpse of Linda’s background, her early years, life as a renowned photographer, years with Paul, and her devotion to vegetarian and animal causes. Some of it was a little plodding, but on the whole it read smoothly and held my interest. I loved getting to know Linda up close and personal. She was an amazing woman who I will always admire!

Amazon Link


Review sharing is new to me. I read most every night as a way to unwind and I look forward to sharing the books I discover. Do any of these books intrigue you? What about the covers? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!