Book Review Tuesday: Under the Water by Paul Pen, Under Siege by @ judipost

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! I have two books to share this week. One—despite being a bestseller with polished writing from an author I enjoy—earns three stars. The other is a one-hour read from a series I’ve fallen in love with.


Book cover for Under the Water by Paul Pen shows title on watery background with bubblesPaul Pen is a Spanish author whose work is routinely translated into English. My first experience reading one of his novels was Desert Flowers, a highly unique, haunting, yet disturbing story. It’s one that remains with me to this day despite the fact I read it in early 2018. A book like that sets a high bar for anything that follows. When I saw Under the Water, I couldn’t wait to download it.

The story started off with a bang—a family of four moving from Seattle to Boston, traveling across country in an RV, planning to sightsee along the way. We get the idea they are hoping for a new start after a series of misfortunes. The ten-year old son lost his eye in an accident, the teenage daughter’s two pet ferrets disappeared, the mother’s hair is now healthy again after falling out in clumps. Weird, huh? This is when the book is good, offering sketchy details that are never quite filled in.

Then, while night-driving in a secluded area, the husband clips a woman who leaps onto the road. Here, things start to sour instead of kicking into high gear. My first problem was accepting that a family of four traveling across country wouldn’t pack a single flashlight in their RV. An RV! Instead, they rely on their cell phones for flashlights—and, of course, those end up missing.

After that, the story degenerates into a hot mess, especially when the woman’s reasons for being on the road are revealed. It requires a stretch of the imagination and dedication to stay with the book. Had it been any author other than Paul Pen, I would have probably stopped reading. I wanted mystery. A haunting, disturbing plot like Desert Flowers. Instead I got infidelity and revenge. I’ve read plenty of books with unlikable characters that I found enthralling, but this one fell short. Toss in the fact the opening chapter seems gimmicky and unnecessary after you know the ending, and I can’t give this book more than 3 stars.

Amazon Link
Genre: Psychological Literary Fiction >  Spanish & Portuguese Literature


Book cover for Under Siege by Judi Lynn shows fierce looking woman in skimpy warrior outfit holding long knife as if to attackUnder Siege: A Muddy River One Hour Read
by Judi Lynn

The citizens of Muddy River have seen their share of problems. A town populated by witches, vampires, shifters, fae, and other preternatural beings, it’s also a place where locals pull together when trouble surfaces. Lead by Raven, the town’s enforcer and fire demon, along with his mate Hester, a powerful witch, Muddy River has stood up to several diabolical challenges.

In this short read, evil surfaces in the form of mortals who have targeted the town. As always, Raven, Hester, and their friends rise to the challenge, banding together to defend their community, including newly arrived members.

If you’re not familiar with Muddy River, this is a nice introduction to the many diverse people who populate it. A magical world where shifters, vampires, and witches gather at the local pub to discuss the day’s events, or rally around a kitchen table to plot strategy. If you’re already familiar with Muddy River, it’s a time to reconnect with characters who have become family. If you’re new to the town, it’s an excellent glimpse into what makes this series—part paranormal, part cozy mystery, part suspense—such a winning combination. You can read this tale in under an hour, and like a Halloween treat, you’ll find yourself wanting more.
5 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Paranormal Mysteries > Witch and Wizard Fiction


Judi Lynn always delivers a good story and I hope you’ll check out her Muddy Series if you haven’t already.

I expected more of Paul Pen’s book. I think of three stars as an average read. Nothing spectacular, but nothing dreadful either. This book was well written, but there were flaws I found hard to overlook. My biggest issue—when the gloss of the mystery was stripped away, I didn’t care for the story. That’s personal taste, and it happens to all of us. I’m sure others will love the book.

How do you feel when a favorite author disappoints you? I will certainly read Paul Pen again. Will you stick with an author after they deliver a story you didn’t care for?

Let’s chat about it.

Book Review Tuesday: The Body in the Gravel @judypost, Tempted by Mr. Wrong @JacqBiggar

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 imageWelcome to another Book Review Tuesday. I’m glad you could pop in and join me. As I type this, it’s dumping buckets of rain outside, and has been for hours. Fall has arrived in Central Pennsylvania. Yesterday, I put pumpkins out, and packed up my summer porch decorations. There was some melancholy involved, as I am a summer gal at heart, but I do have a fondness for autumn. Raven is curled up beside me, and I plan on ending the evening with another book. It’s the perfect cool weather for reading. Which brings me to today’s reviews.


Book cover for The Body in the Gravel by Judi Lynn shows a pile of gravel with feet sticking from the bottom, shovel stuck in gravel near top, cut pug dog looking over the pile, and a house in the brackgroundThe Body in the Gravel
by Judi Lynn

This is the third entry in the Jazzi Zanders mystery series and by now the characters feel like family, especially the leads. Jazzi has a habit of stumbling over dead bodies while working to flip houses with her cousin, and her exceptionally hot Nordic boyfriend, Ansel. This time, the body is delivered in a load of gravel—literally tumbling out of a dump truck. It isn’t long before Jazzi gets to sleuthing, helping her detective friend, Gaff, get to the bottom of “whodunit.” And in this case, there is an entire roster of suspects, each with possible motive.

The murder victim, Darby, was not well-liked or even marginally social. Suffice to say he made a lot of enemies, ticked off a lot of people, and burnt a lot of bridges. The author creates plausible motive for each of the potential murderers, tossing out enough red herrings for plenty of suspicion to lead the reader astray. All of the Jazzi novels have been well constructed and plotted, but I found the murder in this one a level above the rest, just a bit more complex, and that made for great reading.

Toss in Jazzi’s impending marriage, several new secondary characters—along with returning favorites from Jazzi’s family­—AND a few of Ansel’s bristly relatives, and there is plenty to keep you flipping pages, speeding toward the end. I liked the way everything played out and fit together. Flavored with romance, heartwarming scenes, and family dynamics, this is an engaging cozy mystery. George, the pug, is back, as are cats Inky and Marmalade, and there is always something wonderful cooking in Jazzi’s kitchen. She has an ideal life, if not for the dead bodies that seem to show up every time she turns around. Fortunately for readers hooked on this fabulous series, it’s good to know there is more to come! 5 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Cozy mystery > Amateur Sleuths 


Book cover for Tempted by Mr. Wrong by Jacquie Biggar shows close up of handsome man with beard scruff, mustached and blue eyes in profile,Tempted by Mr. Wrong
by Jacquie Biggar

New families make for tempestuous days—at least in this story of love denied. When Jason and Tammy-Jo (T.J.) are teenagers their parents marry, making them step-siblings. By the time they’re seniors in high school, they’ve fallen in love, something that doesn’t fly well with Tammy’s father. When he intervenes and sends Jason packing, T.J. turns elsewhere to soothe her broken heart, following the path her father maps out for her by marrying a man destined for success.

Now it’s ten years later, Jason is on an undercover assignment for the SEC and Tammy’s caught in the middle once again. Her husband—who has been wretched to her—winds up murdered on their front lawn. There to investigate both T.J.’s husband and father, Jason has to keep his purpose a secret while reconnecting with his family—and that includes stirring up all the feelings he still holds for T.J.

If you enjoy romantic suspense, this book is one you won’t want to miss. The case that builds against T.J.’s deceased husband puts everyone in danger, including Jason’s team, his mother, step-father, and T.J. herself. Jason and T.J. navigate their feelings for each other with plenty of misunderstandings, matched only by the heat of undeniable attraction. As always, Biggar knows just how far to push her characters before bringing them to the realization they belong together. The interesting spin in this book is the familial connection and the complications it causes. Jason’s relationship with his stepfather, Sam, is bitter and combative, but Sam has a loving, caring marriage with Jason’s mother. A sticky situation that gets fully fleshed out at the end.

A breezy read with polished writing, dialogue that rings true, and characters who lodge in your heart, this is an entertaining read with a feel-good finish. 5 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Romantic Suspense


There are so many good books waiting on my TBR, and each day I seem to add more. I’m not sure how much reviewing I’ll be doing in November once NaNoWriMo kicks in, but in the meantime, I always enjoy sharing my selections with you. Thanks again for visiting, and I hope you enjoyed the reviews.

Reviewing Meg: Nightstalkers @meg82159 and All the Missing Children (Muddy River Mystery 3) @judypost #BookishTuesday

Hi, friends. Since I’ve been reviewing books on a regular basis, rather than holding all my reviews for of the end of the month or even splitting them into two parts, I’ve decided to make a regular habit of sharing book reviews on Tuesdays. This may amount to only one book, or—depending on how much time I have on my hands during the week—it could be more or less. A big fat goose egg (hopefully not). Today, I bring you reviews from two series I love. To read the official blurbs and learn more about each novel, click the Amazon link.

Meg: Nightstalkers by Steve Alten

Book cover for Meg: Nighstalkers by Steve Alten shows two colossal sharks going after a swimmer below water, fishing boat on surfaceIn book five of the Meg series, sister sharks Bela and Lizzy are causing havoc in the Pacific Ocean after having escaped from their pen at the Tanaka Institute owned by Jonas Taylor and his wife Terry. Worse, the sisters are able to reproduce without male insemination and have started birthing genetic clones of themselves, the pups roaming lose in the water. Suffice to say, a few people meet with unfortunate ends.

Across the globe, Jonas’s son David has once again teamed with an expedition set on capturing a prehistoric creature responsible for the horrific tragedy that has left him with night terrors and a thirst for revenge. Eventually, the paths of David, Jonas, and Scottish marine biologist, Dr. Zachary Wallace will converge near Antarctica. This is where the book goes a little south for me, no pun intended. Wallace is a character from Alten’s popular Loch series of novels (I read the first one years ago) but the plot thread veered off course with a stab at time travel.

The storyline devoted to Bela and Lizzy gets five solid stars. The action is adrenalin-pumping and tight. The sisters, with the way they hunt—one brains, one brawn—make for plenty of nail biting and riveting moments. These two sharks are devious, intelligent, and dangerous. They routinely steal the show!

Alten swaps chapters/scenes of Jonas hunting Bela and Lizzy with David deep diving after dangerous predators. There are plenty of hair-raising encounters with both plots, keeping the tension ramped high and the reader flipping pages. This would have been a five star read for me if not for the spin with Zachary Wallace. Even so, I plan to devour the next Meg book. I can’t wait to see what happens next! 4.5 stars.

Amazon Link
Genre: Space Marine Science Fiction > Horror Fiction


All the Missing Children (Muddy River Mystery 3) by Judi Lynn

Book cover for Where are All the Missing Children by Judi Lynn shows hooded cloaked figure holding crystal ball with young dark-haired man in foregroundRaven and Hester are back again, battling one of the strongest foes they’ve ever faced. When a new supernatural settlement is attacked—all the adults killed, the children missing—Muddy River’s demon enforcer and his powerful witch mate discover an ancient evil is behind the deaths and abductions.

Murlyn, a warlock who practices the dark arts, and who isn’t above using others to amplify his power, has set a devious plan in motion. One that uses gullible supernaturals and innocent children. Murlyn’s thirst for power is unmatched, and unless Hester, Raven, and their band of friends can stop him, all of Muddy River and other supernatural settlements face extermination.

Once again, Judi Lynn has created a fast-paced mystery of good vs. evil. Characters I’ve come to love from the first two novels in this series are back, joined by a host of others who quickly make their mark. Lynn knows how to pull heartstrings while layering her plot with clues that play out like a trail of breadcrumbs. She levels each scene to ratchet the tension, all the while heightening the relationship between characters, forging emotional bonds with the reader. Consider me smitten. I love all of these characters, and the supernatural battles that ensue between good and evil more then satisfy with plenty of breathless action. Party cozy, part urban fantasy, part mystery, this book and those in the series, score gold on multiple levels. Vivid and imaginative. 5 big stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Witch and Wizard Mysteries > Occult Fiction


Thanks for visiting with me today and for checking out my latest reviews. As always, it’s fun sharing these, and I hope to spark your interest in the wonderful stories these authors present!

Pre-Order The Body In The Attic by Judi Lynn #cozy #mystery

Happy first day of November! To kick off the month, I’m delighted to welcome friend and sister author, Judi Lynn. We’ve shared the same publisher for many years now. Judi has a new mystery release coming out in November that I’m super excited about and have already pre-ordered. Before I turn things over so she can tell you about it, please be sure to check out her blog. She’s wonderfully supportive of others and shares engaging posts that I know you’ll enjoy. And now….take it away Judi!


I want to thank Mae for inviting me to her blog.  We’re sister authors for Lyrical Press.  I loved her Point Pleasant series and the start of her Hode’s Hill series.  CUSP OF NIGHT has such a great mix of mystery and paranormal, I’m waiting for the second book to come out in January!  My first mystery, THE BODY IN THE ATTIC, due out Nov. 27, is a straight cozy with food and family tossed in.   I love to cook, so there are a couple of recipes at the back of the book.

Book cover for the cozy mystery novel The Body in the Attic by Judi Lynn shows an old trunk surrounded by various items in an attic

You can find it here:  http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/book.aspx/37036

Here’s the blurb:

Welcome to River Bluffs, Indiana, a cozy small town populated with charming homes, close-knit families, and the occasional deadly secret . . .

House-flipper Jazzi Zanders and her cousin Jerod have found their latest project. The property, formerly owned by the late Cal Juniper, is filled with debris that must be cleared before the real renovation begins. But a trip to the attic reveals something more disturbing than forgotten garbage—a skeleton wearing a locket and rings that Jazzi recognizes . . .

Tests confirm that the bones belong to Jazzi’s aunt Lynda, who everyone assumed moved to New York years ago after breaking up with Cal. Soon enough, the whole family is involved, sifting through memories and rumors as they try to piece together what really happened to Lynda—and the baby she gave up for adoption. In between investigating and remodeling, Jazzi is falling for the old house’s charms—and for her gorgeous contractor, Ansel. But with surprises lurking in every nook and cranny, a killer might be waiting to demolish her dreams for good . . .

And here’s an excerpt:

Jerod called 911.  While Jazzi waited for the detective to arrive, she went from room to room upstairs, checking them out. She needed to keep busy to distract herself.  Her aunt was folded into a trunk, and her mom was going to relive a crappy memory.  When Lynda had accepted Cal Juniper’s engagement ring but told him that she needed to leave River Bluffs for a year to think things through, friends had lined up behind Cal, not Lynda.  And now here Lynda was, stuffed in a trunk in Cal’s attic.

Detective Richard Gaff and crime scene experts arrived before Jazzi could sort out her thoughts.  Gaff looked at the trunk, frowned at the stains halfway up it, and shook his head.  “How long did you say she’d been here?”

Jazzi watched the techs take one picture after another.  “She disappeared twenty-six years ago, a few months after she got engaged.  Why is everything stained there?”

A tech answered automatically.  “A body liquefies when it decomposes—all the fluids draining and organs breaking down.”

Jerod grimaced at the floorboards.

“A clean-up crew comes when we find a body or remains.  They can fix anything.”  Gaff looked at the diamond ring caught on the knuckle of the bony finger on her right hand.  “And who was she going to marry?”

“That ring came from Thomas Sorrell.  She broke up with him.”  Jazzi pointed to the small heap of bones that had fallen off when Jerod moved the trunk.  Another diamond glistened among them—a little smaller, but classier.  “That’s Cal’s ring.  She was going to marry him.”

He stopped writing and frowned.  “Those are both big diamonds.”

Jazzi shook her head.  “Both men were rich.”

“You said she was engaged when she disappeared.”

“To Cal Juniper, but she asked him to give her a year in New York to think things through.”

“And he was all right with that?”

“He wasn’t happy, but he agreed to it.  My mom told me that it bothered him so much, he left River Bluffs before Lynda did.  He was going to travel across Europe on business trips until Lynda was supposed to come back.”

“So he wasn’t in the house.  For a year?  That makes sense.  It would stink to high heavens for a long time.”  Gaff scratched his head, confused.  “Okay, let’s start at the beginning.  Can you tell me what you know about your aunt?”

Jerod and Jazzi exchanged glances.

“That could take a while,” Jazzi said.

Author Bio:

Judi Lynn lives in Indiana with her husband, a bossy gray cat, a noisy Chihuahua, and a parakeet.  She loves to cook and owns more cookbooks than any mortal woman would ever need.  That’s why so much food sneaks into her stories.  She also loves her flower beds, but is a haphazard gardener, at best.

You can find her at:

You can find her webpage at: http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

Her blog:  http://writingmusings.com/

Her author facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

Twitter: @judypost

On BookBub at Judi Lynn with a link to Judith Post:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/judi-lynn

 

 

 

Welcome Guest Blogger Judi Lynn with Cooking Up Trouble

Happy Thursday, Friends! I’ve got a new writer to introduce to you today. Judi Lynn and I are sister authors with Kensington Publishing. We’re also blogging and Twitter friends so naturally when she announced a new release, I was more than happy to roll out the red carpet and invite her to my blog. I hope you’ll do the same by welcoming her.

I’ve already got her new release COOKING UP TROUBLE downloaded to my Kindle, awaiting my reading pleasure. And (psst!) I’ll let you in on a little secret…Judi writers in another genre as well, but I’ll let her explain that—and how she came to develop the characters who populate Mill Pond.

~ooOOoo~

Thank you, Mae, for inviting me to your blog.

I know from reading your posts that you love folklore, legend, and cryptozoology.  (I had to look that up).  We have similar tastes. I love Greek and Norse myths, along with witches, vampires, shifters, and succubi. That’s why I write urban fantasy under my real name—Judith Post.  It’s fun to think about “others” with special powers, powers that make their lives more complex instead of easier. I like the struggles and battles, the good vs. bad.

Imagine my surprise, then, when my agent asked me to try my hand at romance.  “No paranormal, no magic, just boy meets girl and eventually an HEA.”  No magic?  No supernaturals?  I panicked. How do you build a plot like that?  I spent the next four months treading my plot across emotional ups and downs, misunderstandings, and unspoken desires.  It felt like hiking across a soufflé that you didn’t want to fall.  Fitting—because I love to put cooking and food in my stories.  But I discovered that I like writing romance, too.   Romances focus on feelings and character studies, innuendos and inner battles.  When I finished COOKING UP TROUBLE, I wanted to stay in Mill Pond for a long time.  I wanted to bump elbows with the people who live there.  I used the pen name Judi Lynn, so that readers who followed my urban fantasy would know Mill Pond only houses mortals.  I’m working on my fourth Mill Pond romance now, and I hope people enjoy these stories as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.

Book cover for Cooking Up Trouble by author Judi Lynn shows an attractive young couple facing each other in front of an open doorway

BLURB:

It’s impossible not to notice when someone new shows up in Mill Pond. Especially someone as obviously out-of-place as Ian McGregor. His stylish suit and fancy car scream “city slicker.” And when Tessa Lawrence discovers he can’t even change a tire, she has no choice but to help. That’s just what the locals do. And when she finds out Ian’s her new neighbor, of course she’s obliged to invite him to dinner too…

Turns out Ian’s come from New York to open a luxury resort on the property next door to Tessa’s farm, where she grows berries and sells her famous jams and delectable baked goods. But despite their quickly growing friendship and temptingly close proximity, Tessa plans to keep things with Ian strictly neighborly. For one thing, Ian’s got a fiancée who, unlike Tessa, doesn’t have dirt under her nails. Plus, Tessa knows from bitter experience that a guy this gorgeous is all too likely to break a simple country girl’s heart. Even if he’s as sweet as one of her cinnamon buns—and equally hard to resist…

Purchase From:
Kensington Publishing
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes 
Google 
Kobo

Connect with Judi at the following haunts:
Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter @judypost