Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens


Book: Dark Roads

Author: Chevy Stevens

Release date (if applicable): August 3, 2021

Synopsis: Hailey McBride lives in Cold Creek, a place where women have been disappearing off the major highway for decades. When tragedy strikes, Hailey is forced to move in with her aunt and police officer, uncle, who uses his badge to bully the town and Hailey.

After her uncle threatens her life, Hailey chooses to live in the woods as a survivalist like her father had taught her to do. 

Following the death of her sister, Amber, Beth moves to Cold Creek to get to the bottom of her sister's murder. Will the killer get to Beth before she can solve it? Will Hailey be able protect Beth since she was unable to protect Amber.

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: Another excellent release from Chevy Stevens. While this book is very well written, it definitely isn't my favorite work by this talented author. Unlike a chunk of her books, I felt this one wrapped up with a nice little red ribbon, which simply left me unsatisfied at the end. 

It did have a number of twists and "wow" moments, but not enough to boost my rating up to five stars for me.

Source: St. Martin's via Netgalley

Would I recommend? I always recommend Chevy Stevens's books. Dark Roads is no exception.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand alone

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Murder at the Lakeside Library (A Lakeside Library Mystery #1) by Holly Danvers


Book: Murder at the Lakeside Library (A Lakeside Library Mystery #1)

Author: Holly Danvers

Release date (if applicable): July 13, 2021

Synopsis: Following the death of her not so faithful husband, Rain Wilmot has returned to her childhood home of Lofty Pines, Wisconsin to run the family library. All Rain wants to do is lay low and recover from what she has lived through. Unfortunately, the town has other plans for her. 

When real estate mogul, Thornton Hughes is found dead on the property of the library, eyes point to Rain's mother, Willow, with whom Thornton had spent a significant time with. 

As Rain digs deeper into the case, will she become the killer's next victim?

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: This was a light, but highly enjoyable read. I wouldn't go as far as to call it a cozy, but it is on that spectrum.. It is definitely the perfect beach read. While this is normally not my style of read, I do believe this is a series I would definitely continue when looking for something a bit lighter. 

The author developed her characters beautifully and the story flowed smoothly. I found it to be atmospheric perfect for a mystery without going overboard. 

This is the type of book that IndiePicks Magazine and Patomi Media Group was developed to highlight. 

Source: Crooked Lane Publishers via Netgalley

Would I recommend? Absolutely

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: First in Series

Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Ursulina (Shelby Lake Book 2) by Brian Freeman


Book: The Ursulina (Shelby Lake Book 2) 

Author: Brian Freeman

Release date (if applicable): June 24, 2021

Synopsis: Written as a prequel to The Deep, Deep Snow, The Ursulina tells the story of Rebecca Colder, a mother forced to make an excruciating decision while a mythical creature runs through the National Forest in Minnesota leaving bodies in its wake.

My rating: My first 10/5 Stars rating of 2021.

My opinion: Anyone who knows me, reads my blogs or anything having to do with my reading habits knows what a fan I am of Brian Freeman. He is my number one recommended living US mystery writer. I truly consider this gentleman to be one of top US living mystery writers currently. I have read every book he has written with the exception of the Jason Bourne series, and that is simply because I am not a fan of the genre.

Hands down, I consider The Ursulina to be the best book Brian Freeman has written to date. I have numerous reasons for making this claim. 

First, while The Ursulina was a murder mystery like all of his books are, it was so much more than that. Let me just say though, Brian nailed the mystery part that left such a shocking ending that I didn't see coming, I was giddy with surprise and felt it such a treat that I was unable to solve the mystery. Brian masterfully had woven the mystery throughout the book and threw in twists and curves that left me guessing until the end. This is pretty rare for me. I have even had a book or two of Brian's I was able to figure out the ending early in the book. 

That didn't make give it my first 10/5 Star book rating for 2021 though.

Brian writes from the perspective, emotion and insight of a female and mother with such perfection that if I didn't know Brian as an author, I would have sworn the book was written by a female writing under a pseudonym. That to me is not only talent, it is a craft. I have found only one other male author who has pulled this off well. Even Brian's book, The Deep, Deep Snow didn't have as deep an insight into the female psyche as this book did. 

Lastly, the book drew me into the character and had me so emotionally invested that I actually cried at the end. For an author to be able to do that, especially for a reader that devours books like Pez, that is phenomenal. In my forty plus years of reading, I can count on one hand the number of times that an author has pulled me in so deeply into the book. 

Source:  Owned Book (Audible Monthly Credit)

Would I recommend? Hell yes! Normally, I recommend readers read a series in order. I really think this book can stand alone. Do take the time to listen to The Deep, Deep Snow. It is a wonderful listen, as well. Please don't miss Brian's Jonathan Stride Series....SO GOOD!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of series

Special notes: This book is currently available only through Audible.com as an Audible Original. My understanding is there will be a print version available at a later date. I really encourage the audiobook version. It really added to the reading experience.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Book Vs Movie: Who Wore It Better? All Things Cease to Appear (Book) Vs. Things Seen and Heard (Movie/Netflix)


Things Heard & Seen


April 29, 2021

Starring: Amanda Seyfried & James Norton


All Things Cease to Appear

Elizabeth Brundage

March 8, 2016

Alfred A Knopf 

Oh dear readers....where do I even begin on this one? 

First let me tell you, I LOVE A GREAT GHOST STORY, so when I saw the trailer for this on my weekly Netflix email, I set out to investigating. The bonus for me was it had one of my "actors that make me actually pay attention" in it. Yup, James Norton is in it. Ya know James Norton, that freaking DYNAMIC actor of Grantchester, McMafia, Happy Valley fame. I could go on. This guy is just that big of an acting genius to me.  

When the Netflix trailer included that it was based on a best selling novel, being the bibliophile I am, I set out to research and quickly learned it was based off ALL THINGS CEASE TO APPEAR by Elizabeth Brundage. It would be read by the time the movie hit Netflix and I easily hit that goal. 

So, now...who wore it better. Hands down, in typical Hollywood fashion, the book far surpassed the movie in quality. From here on, we go deep into spoiler territory. Just a warning. 

There were critical elements to the backstory of this ghost story that the movie leaves out. Instead of focusing on those elements, the movie focuses on the backstory to the Clares. I could not figure this out. The backstory to the Hales was CRITICAL to the understanding of the book and movie. It was critical to understanding the attachment of the Hale boys to the home, as well as the reason for the haunting by their mother. The screenwriters not only all but ignored it, they changed it into something just plain goofy. 

Due to starting with the backstory of the Clares, the movie was unable to start with a mystery like was done in the book. As the story unfolded, several people could have killed Catherine Clare. Could it have been George? Could it have been one of George's lovers? Could it have been Eddy Hale? The list could go on. Because the movie opened with Catherine Clare very much alive, we were not afforded the ability to experience this movie as the mystery that it was written. We were left with a ghost story and a poor one at that.

Let me tell you, one of the biggest disappointments that I had in this movie was that it failed to show George in just the evil "pigamuffin" that the book captured. In some ways, I thought the book was light on George and heavier on Catherine as a whack job. 

There were also scenes in this movie that I felt were left hanging. For example, the shower masturbation scene was a very important scene in the book that was left hanging in the movie. It was such an important scene that it was brought up at least one other time in the book. 

The special effects on this movie, particularly at the end, were just laughable. I can't even expound on that one.

Now, Netflix, I'd like the two hours it took me to watch this movie back, please! It is because of movies like this that we cannot have nice things, and I'd love Hollywood to just keep their hands off great books. 

So, my final ratings:

Book: 4 Stars

Movie: 1 Star

Skip the movie...READ THE BOOK!

So, now you'll please excuse me while I go watch James in the she THE NEVERS on HBO and forget this experience with him ever happened. As the saying goes...they all can't be winners.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Audiobook: Sleeping Dogs Lie by Samantha Downing (Audible Original)


Book: Sleeping Dogs Lie

Author: Samantha Downing

Narrators: Melanie Nicholls-King; Lindsey Dorcus

Release date (if applicable): April 1, 2021

Synopsis: When Todd Burke is found shot to death in his bathroom by his dog walker Shelby, his soon to be ex-wife with a grudge becomes the number one suspect in a line of potential suspects. But be careful, people aren't always who they appear to be and not seeing that can be deadly. 

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: So...before I begin my opinion because you know I have one, let me just say that some of these audible originals justify the subscription fees to audible. I thought Brian Freeman's The Deep, Deep Snow was a one and done and that most books were just mediocre listens. This book throws that belief right out the window.

Now onto my review:

Few full length novelists can grasp the ability to be able to write high quality novellas. Not a slam. They just can't. Most feel like full length books that the author did a quick wrap up on or that half the story is missing. I can count on my ONE hand the number of authors that I feel can pull off a quality novella and Samantha Downing is one of them.

This was a GREAT listen. Ms. Downing managed to tell a complete story in two hours that left me wondering who the killer was and did a fantastic job in throwing in a plot twist that I didn't see coming.

There are so many ways I could see this series continuing...not only from the detective's perspective, but from that of the killer.

Bravo, Ms. Downing....Bravo. Gotta say that I haven't had a chance to read a full length novel from this author, but if she can pound something this high quality out of a novella, I'll be picking up a full length novel pretty soon.

Source: Audible Original Subscription

Would I recommend? HELL YES! Grab a subscription and listen to this book. It was a fun 2 hours. 

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Thursday, February 4, 2021

The Diabolical Bones (A Bronte Sisters Mystery) by Bella Ellis


Book: The Diabolical Bones (A Bronte Sisters Mystery)

Author: Bella Ellis (Rowan Coleman)

Release date (if applicable): 02/16/2021

Synopsis: The Bronte Sisters are back with another mystery to solve. A child's bones are found in a local landowners' fireplace. Whose bones are they? Who is trying to stop the Bronte sisters from finding out the story behind them by any means possible, including murder? 

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: I have read both books in the series and have several thoughts on these books. 

First, I have started many a series only to be disappointed by the next books in the series. The first book is fantastic, but then the writing becomes weaker with each passing release. Ms. Coleman's novels shows none of these issues. I found The Diabolical Bones to be as well written and inviting as The Vanished Bride. The Diabolical Bones comes out swinging with a unique storyline partnered with an inviting writing style. I absolutely loved this book setting and Ms. Coleman does a phenomenal job at conveying it. It is apparent everything about this book from setting, time period and main characters have been well researched. 

Second, normally I am a stickler about reading series in order. Especially in strong character driven series, it a must if the reader wants to enjoy the full experience of the book and/or character. In my opinion, Ms. Coleman has written these books to be able to stand on their own if the reader so desires. While the Bronte sisters are present in the novel, I don't find their character development to be so strong that one must read the books in order to enjoy the series or not feel lost. 

Third, the author does a fantastic job of writing a painting a dark atmospheric story, she ensures that some light attached to it. While the story was sad and dark, the author didn't beat the reader down with it. Ms. Coleman was able to maintain a story that kept moving without being depressing to the reader.

Source: Berkley Publishing Group via Netgalley

Would I recommend? Absolutely! If you like historical fiction mysteries, this new series is not one to miss. I know I am eagerly awaiting the next in series. 

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Second in series

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Killer Triggers: Murder Comes Down to Sex, Drugs, or Money by Joe Kenda


Book: Killer Triggers: Murder Comes Down to Sex, Drugs, or Money

Author: Joe Kenda

Release date (if applicable): March 9, 2021

Synopsis: Kenda is back with stories from his career. This title focused on murders which occurred due to what Kenda calls the three causes of murder...sex, drugs or money. 

My rating: 4.5 Stars

My opinion: I found I didn't enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed Kenda's first book I Will Find You: Solving Killer Cases from My Life Fighting Crime. As I did a deeper dive into the book, I figured out why I wasn't warming up to it like I did his first work. 

First, anyone who is a Homicide Hunter fan and has watched the episodes several times (hangs head) will recognize most (if not all) of the cases from the show. Do we get a deeper understanding of what was going through Kenda's mind? Yes, we do, but it still felt like a "been there-heard that". 

Second, we didn't get as much Kenda/Kathy as we did in the first book and I missed that. Kenda/Kathy stories are as hysterical as the tidbits of sarcasm Kenda gives from his cases. Let me give an example. Kenda has been doing a lot of publicity for his new Discovery+ show, AMERICAN DETECTIVE. A fantastic show that Kenda fans will go gaga over, by the way, but I digress. He recently did the podcast Small Town Dicks and told a story about Kathy making him go out with friends from her job. Kenda realizes the stepfather of Kathy's friend from work is sexually abusing the daughter of the friend and ends up having to arrest the guy. As I was reading the book at the time, I said to myself this would be a perfect story for the book! 

Third, I read a digital ARC. There is NOTHING like a Joe Kenda narration. Hands down, my absolutely favorite narrator. While I could hear him narrating in my mind, there is nothing like the real deal.   

Source: Blackstone Audio via Netgalley 

Would I recommend? Duh. Of course! Following my opinion, though, I recommend investment in the audiobook version. Blackstone Audio is one of the largest publishers of audiobooks, so I'll bet dollars to donuts there will be an audiobook version with our favorite Lt. narrating. 

I will say this will more than likely be the last Kenda book I request to review. I will wait to purchase an audio copy and review from that. While I realize I only marked it down a half star, I don't feel I walked into the reviewing process with what I felt I needed to do to give the review all that it needed. For that, I am to blame. 

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone