Monday, November 20, 2017

Kids' Review: The Peanuts Movie Novelization by Charles M. Schulz

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

The Peanuts Movie Novelization by Charles M. Schulz (adapted by Tracey West)
Publisher: Simon Spotlight
Publication date: September 22, 2015
My rating: 5 stars out of 5

Miss R's Review

Howdy, I’m Miss R. My mom writes book reviews, but she hasn’t done one in awhile. I’ll be reading books then I’ll review them and take pictures of the book (maybe me with the book).
I’ll help kids see what the book is all about! From time to time, I'll have crafts for a recently reviewed book.

I have a helper named Bubby. She’ll be starring in my photos. (She also might have something to say in my book reviews.) Bubby is an Easter bunny who got kicked out since she couldn’t stop eating all the chocolate eggs! I found her in the store one day. I brought her home and she’s made many friends.

The Peanuts Movie book was about a boy named Charlie Brown. He was around the age of ten. Charlie Brown liked the new girl in his school, but he thought she wouldn’t like him. Snoopy, Charlie Brown's dog, writes a love story book. Lucy, a girl at Charlie Brown’s school, is rather snobby. She and the rest of the kids in the school do not let Snoopy in the school.

My favorite part of the story was when the Little Red Haired Girl told Charlie Brown that he was the sweetest and kindest person in the school

The Peanuts book is a fiction comedy book. It is a twenty one chapter book. I’d suggest it to any age. If you're a kid (or if you are one yourself) that can’t read (but I am sure all of you reading this can read), then your parents could read to you.  If you can read, I'd suggest reading it yourself.

It was originally written by Charles M. Schulz and adapted here by Tracey West. This book was based on the 3D Peanuts Movie. It has a good story. It follows the movie very well. It's a great book for comedy loving kids (and adults).

I loved this book! It's funny and sad (mostly funny if you have watched the movie). They explain the book very well. It's almost like you are in the story. There are pictures in the middle.

Publisher's Description
The Peanuts gang is gearing up for a brand-new adventure in this charming retelling of the holiday season’s biggest animated movie event!

There’s a new kid in town, and she’s a smart, kind, beautiful Little Red-Haired Girl. And—good grief!—Charlie Brown finds himself instantly with a crush on her. Will he be able to impress her?

Meanwhile, Snoopy is heading out on a fantastical flight of the imagination as the Flying Ace! While on his adventure, Snoopy falls head over heels for Fifi, a spunky, high-flying poodle, in the skies over Paris. But when the dastardly Red Baron captures Fifi, it’s up to Snoopy and Woodstock to take down the Red Baron once and for all!

Relive the action, fun, and magic in this incredible retelling of the Peanuts movie that comes with an insert with images from the movie and is sure to be loved by fans young and old!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Review: Dream Eater by K. Bird Lincoln

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

Dream Eater by K. Bird Lincoln
Publisher: World Weaver Press
Publication date: April 4, 2017
My rating: 3 stars out of 5

Publisher's description

Koi Pierce dreams other peoples' dreams.

Her whole life she's avoided other people. Any skin-to-skin contact--a hug from her sister, the hand of a barista at Stumptown coffee--transfers flashes of that person's most intense dreams. It's enough to make anyone a hermit.

But Koi's getting her act together. No matter what, this time she's going to finish her degree at Portland Community College and get a real life. Of course it's not going to be that easy. Her father, increasingly disturbed from Altzheimer's disease, a dream fragment of a dead girl from the casual brush of a creepy PCC professor's hand, and a mysterious stranger who speaks the same rare Northern Japanese dialect as Koi's father will force Koi to learn to trust in the help of others, as well as face the truth about herself.

My review

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

Dream Eater is based on ancient legends. While the legends of many different cultures are referenced, Japanese legends are most represented here along with some Pacific Northwest American legends.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Happy Caturday #11

This is a book blog first and foremost, but it's also a book blog written by someone owned by cats. So every Saturday is officially Caturday here at Purrfectly Bookish. If you have an awesome kitty, doggy, peeg, ratty or any other pet you would like to see here, you can either comment with a link to a picture or email me about sharing your cute pictures on some Caturday Saturday. 

Ava from Shawnee, KS, USA
Ava likes her scotch neat. 

Puck and Lily from Shawnee, KS, USA
The grass sure is greener on the other side of this window...

Smoke Stack from Lone Jack, MO, USA

Penny from Lee's Summit, MO, USA

Friday, April 28, 2017

Kids' Review: A New Friend (The Adventures of Sophie Mouse #1) by Poppy Green

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

Publisher: Little Simon
Publication date: January 2015
My rating: 4 stars out of 5

Publisher's description

Springtime has arrived at Riverlake Forest! Buds are blooming on trees, and the air smells of honeysuckles. Sophie Mouse can't wait to go back to school after the long winter break. But she and her classmates are in for a surprise when they learn that they're getting a new classmate . . .

My review

I'm not even sure how I happened to pick this up at the library since it is really below Miss R's reading level, but there it was on the library shelf.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

TBT Interview: Rebecca Roland, Author of Fractured Days (Shards of History series)


This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

This week's throwback is a little different. I'm resharing an interview I did with my friend Rebecca Roland leading up the release of Book 2 of the Shards of History series, Fractured Days. The third and final book, Shattered Fates, will release next month on May 23rd. 

This interview was first published on my old blog on June 15, 2015.

The interview


1. This is something I’ve always wondered about authors - did you grow up wanting to be a writer/author or is this something you found later in life? If it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, has it turned out to be how you imagined it or very different?

As a kid I loved reading, and in junior high I wrote a mash-up fan fiction piece based on The Hound of the Baskervilles and Def Leppard. It was fun to write, and it entertained my friends. But I never considered being a writer until I was an adult and done with grad school (and therefore had more free time). It really sort of hit me one day that I finally had the time and the drive to do it. When I started submitting short stories and working on a novel I realized I had a lot of work to do to learn more about the craft, but I love the work I've put into it, and I love seeing how much my stories have improved over time.

2. What is your work schedule like when you are writing? Especially with a little one at home?! I can’t seem to get anything done with my two around and they are older (and more independent) than your little minion. On that note, how long does it take you to finish a novel (with all the “real life” and distractions)?

My work schedule has changed a lot as my son has grown. When he was a baby/toddler, prime writing time was during his nap. Now he's five, and he's given up his nap (sob). So I write at all sorts of weird times. Sometimes I write at night, sometimes I write while he's absorbed in a game or TV or playing, sometimes I write during my lunch break at work, and sometimes I leave the house for a coffee shop (like right now). My brain can be pretty mushy later in the day, so it helps if I already know the bones of the scene I'm working on, that way I can jump right into it when I have time.

Of course some things have to go in order to make time for writing. I hardly watch TV anymore, which isn't a bad thing. I read less than I used to, which does bug me sometimes. I think my son is almost at the point where I can try bringing my laptop to the playground and getting some writing done there, but I still feel like I have to watch him a little too much right now to make it easy for me to hold a train of thought. It does take discipline to sit at the computer and write without being distracted by the Internet, but writing time is so precious that I usually get to it without messing around too much. Sometimes I set a timer if I'm more distracted than usual and tell myself that if I write for a certain number of minutes, then I can goof around. I'm totally into bribing myself.

As far as how long it takes to finish a novel, it's taken as long as two years for one and as short as three months for another. As I've learned more about writing, my pace has gotten faster.

3. Where did the inspiration come from for the Shards of History series? 

It actually started as a short story I wrote at the Odyssey Writing Workshop. I had a couple of days to turn in a story and didn't have a clue what I would write. I had this dream one night in which there were homes built into the middle of a huge cliff with no obvious way to them. I woke up and wondered what sort of people would live in a place like that and realized that nobody human would. I came up with the Jeguduns, which are winged, wolfish creatures, and then a short story that centered around one of them. The short story felt like part of a bigger story, though, so when I got home I wrote out the rest. I love the rugged beauty of the Southwest, so I incorporated that into my story.

4. Are any of the characters inspired by people you know in real life? Which character in the book is most like you? 

Situations and personalities I'm familiar with have definitely made it into the book. I never set out to purposefully model a character after someone I actually know, unless it was some random stranger who I'll never meet again. I'm probably most like Malia. In the first book in the series, she's accused of having her head in the clouds, and that's definitely me. When I'm daydreaming, a nude marching band could pass me by and I'd never notice.

5. When you start a series, do you plan on it being a series from the start or does the story wind up building into a series as you write it? 

I didn't plan for Shards of History to turn into a series, although while I worked on it I realized I certainly had plenty of material there for one. So I wrote the first book in such a way that it could either stand alone or continue.

6. How much do you plan a “roadmap” or outline of the book before you start versus letting the characters and story develop and morph as you write?

When I started writing years ago, I wrote by the seat of my pants. I had only the vaguest idea of where a story would end up. I tried outlining, but it sucked all the fun out of the process of creating a rough draft. But with experience I've been outlining more. I have finally put together a process that works for me, takes the least amount of time, and keeps the joy and excitement in the process of writing. I do a 'character interview' where I get to know them and their motivations a bit more. Then I think about how I want the story to end. Where will the characters end up? How will they grow and change? After that I go back to the beginning and plug in the major events. And I always drift away from the outline. Sometimes I figure out something better when I get to a scene, so there's still some spontaneity.

7. What are you working on right now?

I'm working on the third book in the Shards of History series. This will most likely be the final one in the series (at least, that's what I'm aiming for). I'm about ten percent into it and having fun tormenting my characters.

8. Who is your favorite author? What about them inspires you?

I love, love, love Lois McMaster Bujold. She's written a couple of fantasy series, but I really fell in love with her space opera series about Miles Vorkosigan. Her characters are so real that I expect them to jump off the page (especially Miles, who is quite energetic, a little neurotic, and prone to getting in trouble). Miles is also extremely clever, and he's honorable. He would be the sort of friend who might drive you nuts sometimes, but he'd be the first on hand to help out. The series has ranged from the very serious (identity issues, deaths of major characters, class issues, etc) to a comedy of errors to a murder mystery, and all of them taking place in this complicated universe.

9. Do you have any strange or quirky writing habits?

I typically prefer to write with some sort of caffeinated beverage and maybe snacks. I try to eat healthy, but when I'm on a deadline or particularly stressed, I'll turn to chocolate.

10. If the Shards of History series gets optioned for a film, who do you see playing Malia, Enuwal and any other main characters?

Fun question! I think Lynn Collins as she looked in John Carter would make a great Malia. I'd cast Dwayne Johnson as Dalibor. Jimmy Smits would make a great Rasmus, and a younger Benjamin Bratt could play Enuwal. In Fractured Days, Saoirse Ronin would make a great Sersha (and actually, I used a different version of the name Saoirse for the changer's name). She looks sweet, but she showed she can be intense in Hanna. Gemma Ward has the soft look I imagine for Chanwa. I like Nathalie Emmanuel from Game of Thrones for Ankti. And finally, Chris Hemsworth would make a great Muvumo.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

WWW Wednesday 26 April 2017

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. I won't share every Wednesday but I do think it's fun to occasionally check in with what everyone is reading so be sure to share in the comments. If you share your answers on social media, be sure to link to your responses on the main site and visit some of the other contributors.

The Three Ws are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I first started working with World Weaver Press since they are the publisher for my friend Rebecca's Shards of History series (which you've heard a lot about here, here, and here). I've found the quality of storytelling among their authors to be very good. I'm currently reading another WWP publication, Dream Eater by K. Bird Lincoln.  Miss R and I are currently reading Wild Born (Spirit Animals #1) by Brandon Mull. I recently received several boxes of hand-me-down books from a neighbor and we picked this book out of that box. 


Recently finished: Miss R has been on a kick of The Adventures of Sophie Mouse series. These books are really not at her level for reading to herself much less for me reading them to her but she's enjoying them. Each one only takes one or two nights to finish (depending on what time we get upstairs to read). We're waiting to get The Girl Who Drank the Moon back from the library to finish that. On my own list, I've recently finished The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White and The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber (review next month).  


Reading next: I've started three different books that I haven't finished so I will be finishing those! Shattered Fates by Rebecca Roland (releasing May 23rd - I will post my review then), Daughter of Deaths by Christopher Mannino and A Witch Before Dying by Heather Blake.  


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Review: The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

Publisher: Berkley
Publication date: April 11, 2017
My rating: 4 stars out of 5

Publisher's description

Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It’s not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren’t helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.
Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee—something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past.
Sugar’s stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother’s seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather's world.
In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee’s house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women.... 

My review

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

This is the second book from Karen White that I have read. The first, The Sound of Glass, was more of an unlikely sisterhood story. This story is more about unlikely friendships and which ones you can trust and which ones you can’t. Ms. White is a master of writing about the Deep South and the Southern Bells and Steel Magnolias who live there. The story telling in The Night the Lights Went Out, as well as The Sound of Glass, was superb.

Merilee Dunlap is a recently divorced mother of two, and Sugar Prescott is the nonagenarian who owns the rental house Merilee moves into after her divorce. Both women have secrets and both women need a friend. The story is told from four different perspectives: Merilee’s in current times, Sugar’s in current times, Sugar’s in the past, and by the unknown and observant author of a blog about the goings-on in the quiet little suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. I enjoyed this setup, particularly how the author handled Sugar’s flashbacks. So often, flashbacks are included as a way for the reader to know what happened in the past but they aren’t written in a way for the other modern characters in the book to know the information. Sometimes authors don’t keep this information clear and a modern character wounds up “knowing” something from a flashback they never had reason to learn. In The Night the Lights Went Out, Ms. White writes Sugar’s recollections as stories she is sharing with Merilee about her past. But rather than the story be all modern dialogue, the author switches the perspective to a flashback scene with Sugar as the narrator. She does a good job then of not having the “old” Sugar have the perspective of the modern Sugar.  I also enjoyed the blog posts. There were times I found myself noticing that we hadn’t heard from the blog author recently and hoped for a new post soon.

The side characters are also well developed. Often in novels with such interesting and complex main characters, the side characters become afterthoughts and wind up being a bit two-dimensional at best. Not here. Many of the secondary characters deserve stories of their own. I would have liked to see a bit more of Lindi Mathews, a local attorney and the other working mom at the prestigious private school, but even in her too-few appearances, she is a nuanced character.

Now, to my issue with the book, and this one is a personal one so it might not hold true for every reader. I figured out the mysteries early in almost every instance. I’m not sure that it was a fault of the author or if just somehow my brain leapt there on its own accord. There were a few side mysteries that were a surprise and just how far the “back guy” would go was shocking, but all in all, the big stuff?  I had it figured out early. And I’m not normally one who tries to solve the mystery early!  I really just like for it to unfold in the story and be taken along for the ride! As a result of constantly waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop, the story wound up being extremely intense for me. Like Dan Brown intense! I was on edge and anxious and wound up having trouble sleeping until I got this book finished in the last couple days. Ack! I am still recommending the book. But I am glad it is over now so maybe my brain can settle down!

If you are looking for a light, fluffy chick-lit novel for by the pool, this is not it. It’s only my second Karen White book, but based on what I know so far, her books aren’t it. They are however well written with characters you will love (or love to hate). If you’ve spent any time in the South (for me, 15 years in Mobile, Alabama), I think you’ll like this book. It helps if you can internally read the dialogue with a Georgia accent.  I especially enjoyed the blog author’s explanations of some Southernisms. I knew many already but even I learned a thing or two. Lord willin’ and the creek don't rise, I plan on reading more Karen White. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Monthly Manly Review: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Welcome to the Monthly Manly Review. Every month, my husband Jason contributes to Purrfectly Bookish with a book review and a linky so other male readers can share as well. Whether you're a book blogger yourself - or whether some of the female readers have just convinced the men in their lives to write a review - your link is welcome!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Publisher:  Anchor Books
Publication date: 1985
Jason's rating: 5 stars out of 5

Publisher's description

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...

Jason's review

In anticipation of the upcoming series on Hulu, and because it had been sitting on my “to read” pile for approximately forever, I decided to finally crack open The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Handmaid is the story of Offred, a woman living in the near future in Gilead, in what was once part of the United States. Gilead is run by a extreme far right theocratic government, in which social roles (especially those of women) are strictly formalized and limited. Offred (read this Of Fred) is a Handmaid, whose role is limited to that of a reproductive vessel, assigned to powerful men to produce children, as fertility is a scarce resource in this future.

The story follows Offred through her time in the house of the Commander, and her increasingly entangled relationships with him, his Wife, a fellow Handmaid and others. Parallel is some of her backstory, from before the rise of Gilead and her attempts to escape its oppressive government.

In my opinion, there isn’t much “action” in the book, but that isn’t the point. Atwood does a masterful job building tension towards some undetermined negative end (I mean how can such a story end happily?), without the need for car chases, bombs or other Michael-Bay-esque pyrotechnics. The story here is about what happens to Offred as a human, both in her past (finding and losing love and a child) and in her present. Hope is the scarcest of resources here, and just the faint flicker of it is enough to drive the story and our protagonist towards its conclusion.

What is truly wonderful about this story is that is has aged so well. This story, if written in 2015 and not 1985, would stand up just as well. The fact that the issues facing Offred in this story still ring so true is also the most impactful thing about this book. As a woman of child-bearing age, Handmaids are treated by society as not human, but as essentially livestock, being assigned for the benefit of powerful men, and valued only for their reproductive capacities. When those are expired, Handmaids are cast aside. The roles of women in this story are so structured as to be prisons for even the most privileged among them.

Most near-future dystopian fiction I’ve read contains seeds of fantasy, a catastrophic events or series of events that allow the reader to distance themselves from the story, making it enjoyable (and often well-written) brain candy. Atwood, by contrast, keeps her vision of the near-future close enough to retain that link to non-fiction. Given the path of political discourse and human rights over the last 30 years, her story may be more unsettling now than when she wrote it.

The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t my personal dystopia, but I can see it from here.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Caturday #10

This is a book blog first and foremost, but it's also a book blog written by someone owned by cats. So every Saturday is officially Caturday here at Purrfectly Bookish. If you have an awesome kitty, doggy, peeg, ratty or any other pet you would like to see here, you can either comment with a link to a picture or email me about sharing your cute pictures on some Caturday Saturday. 

Frankie from USA

Nala from Beaverton, OR, USA

Otto and Maggie from Kansas City, MO, USA

Harriet from Kansas City, MO, USA

Friday, April 21, 2017

Kids' Review: To Burp or Not to Burp by Dr. Dave Williams and Loredana Cunti

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

To Burp or Not to Burp by Dr. Dave Williams and Loredana Cunti
Publisher: Annick Press
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Publisher's description

Of all the questions astronauts are asked by kids, the most frequent one is “How do you go to the toilet in space?”
This book not only answers that question, but many others about the effect of zero gravity on the human body:
How do you brush your hair in space? What happens when you sweat? What does food taste like? The best thing is that the answers are provided by Dr. Dave Williams, a NASA astronaut who speaks from first-hand experience. Written for kids ages 7 to 10, this book uses age-appropriate language to explain the different phenomena that astronauts encounter during a mission. The bright, colorful pages, short blocks of text accompanied by photos and humorous illustrations make this a very attractive choice for young readers. The opening message from Dr. Dave empowers kids to follow his example by believing in themselves and following their dreams.

My review

I won a free copy of To Burp or Not to Burp from the blog Chaos is a Friend of Mine

Growing up in the 70s and 80s, the space program always fascinated me. Unlike so many other kids, I didn’t really want to be an astronaut when I grew up. But space and space shuttles and astronauts were still very exciting. I watched almost every time the space shuttle took off and landed. I cheered when Sally Ride broke the gender barrier (at least in America - the first female in space was Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova 20 years earlier in 1963). I mourned when the Challenger tragedy occurred.

I had an aunt who lived in Houston, TX so I got to visit Johnson Space Center several times. The things that always fascinated more than anything else were the day-to-day requirements of living in microgravity on a shuttle or space station. I LOVED freeze-dried ice cream and Tang and any of the exhibits that showed how astronauts slept or exercised or ate.  Those exhibits and that information was always “tidy” for the public eye though. None of it really got into the nitty gritty of how an astronaut (or cosmonaut or taikonaut on the International Space Station ISS now) really went about their day.  Dr. Dafydd “Dave” Williams has opened all those doors in this book.

Dr. Dave is a retired Canadian astronaut who was part of an assembly mission on the Space Shuttle Endeavor to the ISS in 2007 (he had one previous shuttle mission as well in 1998).  Dr. Dave goes into ALL the nitty gritty of life in space: sleeping, exercising, eating, going to the bathroom, burping, farting and more. Spoiler: farts will not jet propel a human in space. Sorry. My daughter thought the book was hilarious and fascinating. It is definitely fun learning. And as someone who really misses the excitement and national unity the space program brought, I really enjoyed reliving my own youthful “space exploration” by learning new things. If you ever loved the space program or if your kids are in love with it now, I really recommend this book!  Fun illustrations and humorous explanations would make it interesting even to someone who isn’t as interested in space.

Miss R's review

It was a good book... kind of disgusting at times. it really makes me feel like I totally need to be an astronaut (I'm being sarcastic). I liked the parts where they taught you how to pee and poop and eat in microgravity - mostly the eating. It looked funny in the pictures they had. I imagine being out in space and walking and immediately floating to the top. I recommend it to kids who want to be astronauts and kids who don't get grossed out by lots of things, because this book is pretty disgusting. It is funny though!

For more reviews of books for children and teens, check out Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection, posted on Saturdays. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, you can go to her site to leave a comment and your link.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

TBT Review: Dead in a Dumpster by B.L. Blair

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

Dead in a Dumpster by B. L. Blair
Publisher: B. L. Blair
Publication Date: September 21, 2014
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
TBT Review Date: December 28, 2015

Publisher's description

When Leah Norwood finds the body of Isabel Meeks in the dumpster behind her store, she can't believe the police consider her a suspect. Sure, she didn't liked Isabel, but then again, neither did anyone else. Isabel had a condescending attitude and a bad reputation. As manager of the antique store, Patina, she had made a lot of enemies. There is Patina's assistant manager, the handsome and charming Trent. Isabel was blackmailing him. There is Patina's owner, the aloof and influential Anthony Thorpe. Isabel was smuggling drugs through his store. And there is the entire drug dealing Cantono family. Isabel had lost a box containing heroin from one of their shipments. That is just to name a few and didn't even include the stranger who was seen arguing with Isabel just hours before her death. The police have too many suspects and too many soft alibis. Leah needs to prove to the sexy new chief of police that she had nothing to do with Isabel's death. Leah loves a good mystery. Can she find the killer before the police arrest her for murder?

My review

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

I am not someone who tries to solve the mystery the whole time I’m reading a mystery novel. I also don’t read a lot of mysteries, of course. This one was an enjoyable and quick read. I didn’t feel like the answer to the mystery was super obvious (at least not any more obvious than other possible answers) nor did I think it was too far-fetched. Maybe a little, but not too much. Living in a historic suburb very similar to Reed Hill, I could definitely relate to the tight knit community of business owners and how they all look out for each other.

I had a little trouble with the protagonist’s behavior and brazen choices she made trying to solve the mystery. It seemed unlikely at first that someone would go to the extent she was going to solve a crime that the police were actively working on (and kept warning her away from). The author did attempt to explain her behavior - a love of mystery novels and a personal connection to the victim and case. I think the behavior seemed particularly odd to me because, as I already mentioned, I don’t read a lot of mysteries. Since this was the first in the series, I realize that the author had to start building her heroine and the community around her.

There is a romance angle but it was secondary to the mystery. It set up well for some fun interactions for Leah in future novels of the series. There is a pending love triangle - I’m not a huge fan of love triangles so it will be interesting to see how B.L. Blair handles it in Dead in the Park (Book 2) and going forward.  

2017 Update: I have since started reading a lot more cozy mysteries. I still don't try to guess whodunnits early though.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cover Reveal: Equus edited by Rhonda Parrish

Equus edited by Rhonda Parrish
Publisher: World Weaver Press
Publication Date: July 18, 2017

I love working with World Weaver Press. First of all, I love fantasy and they specialize in fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction. And secondly, they are a small independently owned book publisher that really focuses on good storytelling!  Win-win! Rhonda Parrish has already released four anthologies in her Magical Menageries series: Fae (2014), Corvidae (2015), Scarecrow (2015) and Sirens (2016). Equus will feature nineteen stories all about equines - both real and imagined.  The reader will find horses, unicorns, centaurs and other equine mythology in this installment. I'm looking forward to reading it and reviewing it when it comes out in July. In the meantime, the cover is a lovely teaser to the upcoming release. You can imagine this beautiful creature as a unicorn, a pegasus, or even just a really special horse. If you love horses and love fantasy, plan to check out this anthology when it is released.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Review: Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton

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Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication date: 1992
My rating: 4 stars out of 5 

Publisher's description

Down-on-her-luck Lori Shepherd thought Aunt Dimity was a pretend character in her mother's bedtime stories ... until the Dickensian law firm of Willis & Willis offers the possibility of large inheritance -- if she can discover the secret hidden in letters between Dimity and her mother. Plus 1-pg recipe Beth's Oatmeal Cookies.

My review

Aunt Dimity was a larger-than-life character in the cherished stories told by Lori’s late mother as Lori was growing up. Reeling from a divorce and now the death of her mother (the only family Lori had), Lori is finding that her strong-willed, stubborn streak has done nothing to help her in life. No husband. No decent job (specializing in rare books maybe wasn’t such a bright idea). Too often, no food! 

On a cold, rainy day, Lori receives a letter from a law firm stating they need to talk to her right away. With nothing better to do than be hungry and miserable anyway, Lori sets out across the city to go see them. She arrives soaked and bedraggled at a majestic building, nestled in among the skyscrapers. Willis & Willis has been hired to draft estate documents and then manage the eccentric requests of their client, Miss Dimity Westwood. Only, to Lori, Miss Dimity Westwood is Aunt Dimity and she’s a fictional character in her mother’s stories.

Lori discovers that her mother Beth and Dimity were best friends dating back to when they worked in London together during WWII. As she digs into their pasts and their stories, she finds a sadness in both women that Lori was not expecting. She remembers her mother as someone almost intimidating in the the amount of joy with which she moved through life. Always happy. Always helping others. Seemingly perfect. And Aunt Dimity, as the star of her cherished childhood stories, could do no wrong. Lori learns that her mother was more like Lori than she ever realized and that both women harbored secrets. 

On her journey to find answers, Lori is accompanied by Bill Willis, the son of the father/son law firm. At first, Lori is awful to Bill when he does nothing but treat her with respect and grace. The reader will need to bear through some time when you will simply not like Lori. In uncovering the secrets about the best friends, Lori uncovers quite a bit about herself and does grow a lot during the course of this first book in the series. 

All in all, Aunt Dimity’s Death was a charming book. I appreciated that there was no murder in this book to make it a mystery. While I do enjoy a good cozy mystery, those series do all hinge on someone getting murdered generally. It was nice to have other mysteries to unravel rather than death for a change. Once I got past Lori’s objectionable personality… once Lori got past Lori’s objectionable personality… the book was quite enjoyable. Fortunately the other characters more than made up for her lacking while she came around.  I think the premise of the series is darling and I am looking forward to reading more.