Monday, November 2, 2020

Pioneering the Vote: The Untold Story of Suffragists in Utah and the West by Neylan McBaine


Book: Pioneering the Vote: The Untold Story of Suffragists in Utah and the West

Author: Neylan McBaine

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Pioneering the Vote takes a deep look at the Suffragette movement in the Western states, but particularly in Utah, the center of the Mormon religion. How would the home of a religion that practiced polygamy and preached a woman's subservience to her husband respond and react to a movement that demanded differently?

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: This book was BRILLIANT! Forget that it was chock full of well researched history that is little known to those who do high level research on the women's path to voting rights. The author took what could be considered a dry non-fiction writing and partnered it with fiction. This gave the figures much more "life" than simply writing about their accomplishments. At first, I wondered how it would work out and would it be cheesy. The author pulled it off masterfully.  

Source: Publisher for review through Netgalley

Would I recommend? Absolutely. Pioneering the Vote gave readers interesting insight into the movement from a specific region and the struggles they needed to work through. For those of us who have really focused on reading high level books on the movement, this book gave a nice deeper, bird's eye view to what was happening in a specific region, particularly one that could have been very difficult to convince . 

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Monday, October 26, 2020

Life with the Afterlife: 13 Truths I Learned about Ghosts by Amy Bruni


Book: Life with the Afterlife: 13 Truths I Learned about Ghosts

Author: Amy Bruni

Release date (if applicable): October 27, 2020

Synopsis: Ms. Bruni, who any fan recognizes from her work on Ghost Hunters (the original) and Kindred Spirits or even paranormal research conventions, brings thirteen lessons she learned about ghosts in her decades of ghost hunting. Chapters are done in sections based on paranormal research and her own experiences in ghost hunting. Ms. Bruni also throws in tidbits about the go behinds of the shows Ghost Hunters and Kindred Spirits, as well as personal accounts in Amy's life that fueled her passion for the field. 

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: This book captured my attention IMMEDIATELY. I enjoyed the format of weaving in paranormal research, show accounts and personal experience. In my humble opinion, it gave the book a bit more personality rather than straight research or straight personal account, which comes off to me as more "one man syndrome" vs. a respectable scientific source. To me, it made the book very warm, approachable and readable. 

I have to say, personally, I enjoyed the "behind the scenes" of Ghost Hunters most. I absolutely loved the show Ghost Hunters and was obsessed with being at my television to watch it faithfully until the departure of Grant Wilson. I continued to watch it until about season 9 as I could, but really enjoyed Amy's involvement with the team as highly professional. Each year, Ghost Hunters Live achieved the same level of celebration as Chicago Bears Sofa Tailgating Sunday. 

What I loved most of this book was Ms. Bruni's skepticism and criticism of the field, including some major names such as the Warrens (whom I have my own issues with) and not accepting findings as gospel. Her final chapter even addresses the topic of question everything and embrace skepticism, even from her. There was a sense of humility in that for me. 

One criticism I would have for the book is that I would have enjoyed photos included in the book. Now, I was given an egalley to review, so these may be included in the published book, but I did not see them in my galley. 

Source: Grand Central Publishing for honest review

Would I recommend? Yep! How much did I enjoy this read? I read it in 2 days and a girl has gotta work! I would read this book before I went into work, after I went into work and even during my lunch hours. It was just a good, inviting reading that read quickly. 

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

The Vanished Bride (A Bronte Sisters Mystery #1) by Bella Ellis


Book: The Vanished Bride (Bronte Sisters Mystery #1)

Author: Bella Ellis

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Did you know before the Bronte sisters were authors they were brilliant detectors? When the new bride of a wealthy landowner goes missing in a room full of blood, the sisters are on the case! Did her husband kill her or was there something much deeper from the past that caused the disappearance of this young bride?

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: Bella Ellis, the pseudonym for author Rowan Coleman Bronte Sisters Mystery series, has woven a delightful story that is laid out masterfully to give excellent twists and turns. The book is welcoming from the first page and Rowan has placed hooks into the story to really keep the reader guessing. I will say that I saw the possibility for the ending, but wasn't sure. The ride to the end was definitely worth it and it was accompanied with other little twists that added enjoyment to the story. As a massive fan of the Bronte sisters, this author has clearly done her research on the Bronte family to weave in known fact about their lives. 

Source: Library

Would I recommend? Normally, unless I was chosen to review the book, I would never do a blog review for a book that has been out for this long. As a historical fiction mystery, this book was definitely my cup of tea with a scone as a bonus. This book is excellent and one I will be looking forward to each new release. So, yes, I would highly recommend.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of Series. Book 2, THE DIABOLICAL BONES, is due for release on February 16, 2021, and just look at this beautiful cover! 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

A Libertarian Walks Into A Bear by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling


Book: A Libertarian Walks Into A Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (and Some Bears)

Author: Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling

Release date (if applicable): 09/15/2020

Synopsis: Grafton, NH becomes a truly run Libertarian city. This story shows the impact both positive and negative to a city run as a "free state" where its citizens basically do, pay and act as they feel. 

My rating: 3.5 Stars

My opinion: I enjoyed this read. Quirky characters, bears and a will to live in a "free state" and the lasting consequences made this a really unique read. The writing was inviting and fun. 

Source: Netgalley for Publisher

Would I recommend? Yes. Overall, I felt this was a cute read. Beware of the underlying bias, but read for the unique story. If you are a political junkie or enjoyed non-formulaic books, be sure to check this one out. 

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Funeral for a Friend (Jonathan Stride #10) by Brian Freeman


Book: Funeral for a Friend (Jonathan Stride #10)

Author: Brian Freeman

Release date (if applicable): September 22, 2020

Synopsis: Stride’s friend is dying. He has one last secret to tell Stride before he goes. The body of a reporter who was tormenting Stride’s former wife is buried in his yard with a bullet in his head. Who killed him and why are all eyes on Jonathan Stride? While Stride is trying to clear his name, his ward, Cat finds herself with a stalker who wants her dead. 

My rating: Oh so 5 Stars!

My opinion: So, while 2020 has been a stressful year, I have had numerous great things happen. One of those has been the release of a Jonathan Stride novel two years in the making. Brian Freeman is tops on my list for favorite living American mystery writers and one of the top authors I recommend, so when I saw a Jonathan Stride novel in the works, I became giddy. Brian writes stories and characters that suck the reader in almost immediately. Funeral for a Friend was no exception. I found myself having to make myself stop reading it to make time to continue with other books I am currently reading. 

Source: Netgalley for review

Would I recommend? Hell yes! Brian Freeman is my number one recommended living American mystery writer and for good reason. I love reviewing his books because every time I do, I get to introduce new readers to a GREAT mystery writer. Mr. Freeman is fantastic about throwing in great twists and turns that throw readers off until the very end. Funeral for a Friend was no different. 

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Funeral for a Friend is number 10 in the Stride series. Now, authors and publishers hate when I do this, but, particularly with this series, give yourself an extra treat and read the series prior to reading this book. Brian Freeman is one of the most character driven authors I read and he remained true to process in this book. This book has a lot of reference to his past books, so a reader may find themselves lost. Can this book be read as a standalone? Sure, but why not give yourself that little extra treat and meet a great new series?!?!