Original topic subject: WHAT ARE WE READING & RVIEWING IN NOVEMBER 2023?

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Out 24, 2:28 pm


Tell us what you're planning to read in November

Editado: Nov 29, 9:06 am


🦃 - ★
🦃Give Up the Ghost -Jenn Burke 5★ (Friend) (1)
🦃Clean Start At Forty - Seven - Nora Phoenix - 4.5★
🦃New Daddy At Forty-Seven - Nora Phoenix - 3.5★
🦃Secrets & Scandal - Gianni Holmes - 4.5★
🦃Scandal - Gianni Holmes - 4★
🦃Risking It All - Reese Knightly - 4★
🦃Bringing It Home - Reese Knightly - 4★
🦃For The Love of a Boy - Morticia Knight - 5★
🦃Now and Forever - Morticia Knight - 5★
🦃His Boy to Tame - Skyler Snow - 4★
🦃His Boy To Restore - Hayden Hall - 4.5★
🦃His Boy To Cuddle - Morticia Knight - 5★
🦃Caged In - Luna David - 4★
🦃Boys & Toys (Aces Wild) - Morningstar Ashley - 3.5★
🦃The Only Way To Dream - M. A. Innes - 5★
🦃After Care - Tanya Chris - 4★
🦃A Little Bit Naughty - Reese Morrison - 4.5★
🦃All Tied Up - Reese Morrison - 4.5★
🦃Graveyard Shift - Jenn Burke - 5★
🦃New Tricks - Davidson King - 4★
🦃Powder and Pavlova- Jay Hogan - 4.5★
🦃Flat Whites & Chocolate Fish - Jay Hogan - 4.5★
🦃Master Zane's Boys - Morticia Knight - 5★
🦃Wrecked - Jodi Payne & Ba Tortuga - 4.5★
🦃Flying Blind - Jodi Payne & BA Tortuga - 5★
🦃Curiosity, Undisclosed - Carly Marie - 5★
🦃Secrets, Undisclosed - Carly Marie - 5★
🦃A Soft Place to Fall - BA Tortuga - 5★
🦃To Not Fall For My Doc - Gianni Holmes - 3★
🦃Artistic Appeal - Andrew Grey - 5★
🦃Bring Me Home - Annabeth Albert - 5★ (30)
🦃The Visitant - Kathleen O'Neal Gear - 4★
🦃I'd Know You Anywhere - Laura Lippman - 5★
🦃Pay Dirt Road - Samantha Jayne Allen -5★
🦃Look Closer - David Ellis - 5★
🦃A Spirited Tail - Leighann Dobbs - 3.5★
🦃Try Not to Breathe - David Bell - 3★
🦃The Spare Room - Andrea Bartz - 4★
🦃Family Secrets - Shawn McGuire - 3★
🦃Watch Her Disappear - Lisa Reagan - 5★
🦃Frozen Statues - L.E. Fraser - 2.5★
🦃Secrets From the Past - Jenny Elaine - 5★
🦃The Snowfly - Joseph Heywood - 3.5★
🦃Ice Hunter- Joseph Heywood - 3★
🦃The Last Party - Clare Mackintosh - 4★
🦃 Hushabye - Celina Grace - 3★
🦃Blackwater Falls - Ausma Zehanat Khan - 3★ (16)

Editado: Nov 1, 8:22 am

Caged In - Luna David - (North Carolina)
Aces Wild Series Book #12
Genera: M/M Romance/Daddy/Boy Relationship
Reed is just the type of guy that makes you want to leave every little thing in his big capable hands. For four years, Reed and Cam have walked careful circles around each other. Both were falling head over heels for the other one, but both were also oblivious to what the other wants...and, Cam works for Reed. He knows Reed is a "Daddy" after he's heard the other guys around him talking, and after he goes online and does some research, what he learned about "Daddy/Boy" relationships, he more than wants with Reed. Then there is Reed's rule...one that he never crosses. "DON'T DATE THE EMPLOYEE'S"! Cam can get around that one by finding a new job, which he does, allowing Reed to finally stake his claim. Of course, there is still plenty of nerves, especially when Reed finds out about Cam’s experience, or rather the lack thereof. Cam is nervous because, WOW...this is Reed who he thinks is probably way out of his league. Both these guys just need to learn to communicate, and Cam needs to listen less to his "helpful" friends. After seeing Cam in Ace’s Wild, Reed sees Cam in a different light and definitely wants to start to communicate. They both have a lot to learn about one another and their new dynamic. Cam really, really needs someone to take care of him...and Reed really, really needs someone to take care of...sounds simple? Not at first...but at least they were willing to not only talk, but to listen, and they do eventually work it out. This is a short little book, but it contains so much heart and more love that can ever be stuffed into these few pages. This series is written by multiple authors, and I look forward to visiting with them again...soon.

Nov 1, 1:06 pm

His Boy To Cuddle - Morticia Knight - (Massachusetts)
Naughty or Nice Series 2
Genera: MM Romance/Daddy & Little
It's another sweet offering from the Naughty or Nice series, Season Two. These are books that are written by a covey of different authors with the theme of "boys" finding their forever "daddies", or "daddies" finding their forever "boys". Jaxon has finally gotten the promotion he has worked so hard for. Years of hard work managing his sporting goods store has paved the way for him to move from sunny California into cold, snowy Massachusetts, and just in time for Christmas along with a huge storm on its way. He chose to be based out of Boston because it was the home of Club Sensation...the BDSM Club. Two of the characters from Morticia Knight's other series Kiss of Leather, which I absolutely loved, make an appearance in this book. Jaxon's friend and fellow Dom, Brock, had highly recommended him said he would back his club membership request. The club owner, Master Zane, had helped Gavin when he was setting up his Kiss of Leather Club. His friend, Brock is pushing him to write a "Dear Santa" letter to the club's website for a "Little" to keep him company on his first Christmas in a new place. He receives an answer right away from a boy calling himself, "PrincessT", and things are starting to look up for him. After meeting and playing together both men want to see more of one another. The problem is that "Daddy" Jaxon had said in his letter that they would only be together until Christmas, and that he wasn’t interested in a relationship. Now he hopes he can somehow undo that...but he isn't sure if Tracy only wants the week to try out what he said he always wanted but had never experienced. Tracy, (PrincessT), had for years been beaten down his entire life by his parents and his sisters for not being "manly" enough or good enough. He now has happiness and acceptance from his best friend, Tate who he works with in a museum gift shop. It was Tate that talked him into writing the letter and Tate intends to see to it that Jaxson doesn't mess up the best thing that has ever happened to him. The huge snowstorm that traps them in Jaxson's apartment seems to also be working to keep them together. Now neither Jaxson nor Tracy wants their budding relationship to end as each now believes that Santa had given them each to the other...the perfect gift. Morticia Knight is one of my favorite authors. She never makes over the top anxiety a big part of the story and let us see the resolution both men wanted when they finally verbalized their thoughts/fears/desires. I have enjoyed season 2 as much as I did season 1 of the "Naughty or Nice" novellas. This one was so sweet and just a bit "naughty" in all the "nice" ways.

Editado: Nov 1, 2:54 pm

The Snowfly - Joseph Heywood - (Upper Peninsula of Michigan)
Genera: Mystery
The story is a vast international conspiracy that links spies, sexpots, bumbling journalists, a famous macho writer, and trout fishers hunting for a mythic insect. Our main character, Bowie Rhodes was Born in 1945 in a shack deep in the Michigan forests of the Upper Peninsula. He grows up tall, exceptionally good-looking, reasonably adept at writing, and very, very curious about the relationship between his father, a chain-smoking trout-fisherman, and his powerfully over dominant mother. He’s haunted by memories of a dead man his father pulled out of the a nearby stream, as well as by the beguiling attractions of Raina Chickerman, (is that name for real you ask?) ...Yes, indeed it is! She's the brilliant, sexually precocious, trout-fishing daughter of the closest upstream neighbor. As Bowie grows up, gets a scholarship to Michigan State, and studies journalism, he becomes positively obsessed with Raina, who appears at odd moments, teases him sexually or intellectually, sometimes both at the same time, then blows away before he can touch her...and with her a lost manuscript about the snowfly, a legendary insect that hatches once every 20 to 40 years and is simply irresistible to big dumb trout. Bowie’s journalistic pursuits take him to Viet Nam, England, and Russia, where he finally tracks down the missing manuscript, which is written in some kind of unbreakable code by a mysterious German scientist. Naturally, other good and bad guys want this manuscript also. The trail leads to a bunch of renegade mountain men, led by Raina and that famous macho writer, all of whom are waiting for the snowfly to help them land the biggest fish of all. This madcap fish story updates the Grail quest with unsettling violence, preposterous schemers, and an abundance of overly sexy women who dispense pithy statements on the meaning of life and can’t wait to jump into the nearest trout stream. This is the first book that I've read by this author, but he is visiting my library in a few weeks, and I thought it would be nice as well as polite, to at least have some idea of what he writes...but I'm still not really sure that I know the answer to that yet. I'm still in the dark as to if this was intended to a comedy or if it's just the result of the author having too much trout stream water on the brain. I can't wait to meet this guy! It was to say the least entertaining, so I'll hold at the 3.5 rating until I better understand if the author is absolutely brilliant, or a great deal in need of psychological help:)

Nov 1, 3:06 pm

The Snowfly - Joseph Heywood - (Upper Peninsula of Michigan)
Genera: Mystery
The story is a vast international conspiracy that links spies, sexpots, bumbling journalists, a famous macho writer, and trout fishers hunting for a mythic insect. Our main character, Bowie Rhodes was Born in 1945 in a shack deep in the Michigan forests of the Upper Peninsula. He grows up tall, exceptionally good-looking, reasonably adept at writing, and very, very curious about the relationship between his father, a chain-smoking trout-fisherman, and his powerfully over dominant mother. He’s haunted by memories of a dead man his father pulled out of the a nearby stream, as well as by the beguiling attractions of Raina Chickerman, (is that name for real you ask?) ...Yes, indeed it is! She's the brilliant, sexually precocious, trout-fishing daughter of the closest upstream neighbor. As Bowie grows up, gets a scholarship to Michigan State, and studies journalism, he becomes positively obsessed with Raina, who appears at odd moments, teases him sexually or intellectually, sometimes both at the same time, then blows away before he can touch her...and with her a lost manuscript about the snowfly, a legendary insect that hatches once every 20 to 40 years and is simply irresistible to big dumb trout. Bowie’s journalistic pursuits take him to Viet Nam, England, and Russia, where he finally tracks down the missing manuscript, which is written in some kind of unbreakable code by a mysterious German scientist. Naturally, other good and bad guys want this manuscript also. The trail leads to a bunch of renegade mountain men, led by Raina and that famous macho writer, all of whom are waiting for the snowfly to help them land the biggest fish of all. This madcap fish story updates the Grail quest with unsettling violence, preposterous schemers, and an abundance of overly sexy women who dispense pithy statements on the meaning of life and can’t wait to jump into the nearest trout stream. This is the first book that I've read by this author, but he is visiting my library in a few weeks, and I thought it would be nice as well as polite, to at least have some idea of what he writes...but I'm still not really sure that I know the answer to that yet. I'm still in the dark as to if this was intended to a comedy or if it's just the result of the author having too much trout stream water on the brain. I can't wait to meet this guy! It was to say the least entertaining, so I'll hold at the 3.5 rating until I better understand if the author is absolutely brilliant, or a great deal in need of psychological help:)

Nov 1, 6:17 pm

Finding Nouf – Zoë Ferraris

From the book jacket: Wen sixteen-year-old Nouf goes missing, along with a truck and her favorite camel, her prominent family calls on Nayir ash-Sharqi, a desert guide, to lead a search party. Ten days later, her body is discovered by anonymous desert travelers. But when the coroner’s office determines that Nouf died from drowning, and her family seems suspiciously uninterested in getting at the truth, Nayir takes it upon himself to find out what really happened to her.

My reaction
This was a wonderful debut psychological thriller. I particularly appreciated the setting in Saudi Arabia, and the use of a female lab technician who has some decidedly “modern” sensibilities. Katya Hijazi chafes at the rigid segregation of men and women in this ultra-conservative society. Her widowed father indulges her – to a point; she still must have a driver and escort wherever she goes.

Contrast this strong woman, determined to be as modern as possible within the confines of societal rules, with Nayir. He’s a Palestinian orphan who was raised by a bachelor uncle. He is devoutly Muslim, praying five times a day, refraining from contact with women, and rather rigid in his daily life. He is appalled at this brazen woman, and yet intrigued by, even drawn to her. Theirs is a partnership neither sought, but which both ultimately appreciate.

I’m fascinated by this glimpse into modern-day Saudi Arabia, a country that lives by an ancient code that mystifies this Westerner. I’m interested to see where Ferraris takes this series.

Published in the UK as Night Of the Mi’raj

Nov 2, 7:26 am

Give Up The Ghost- Jenn Burke
Not Dead Yet Series, Book #2
Narrator: Greg Boudreaux
Genera: M/M Romance/Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
This one is the sequel to what has quickly become one of my favorite series, Not Dead Yet. I couldn't wait to see if Wes Cooper and Hudson Rojas could possibly live up to all the angst, action, surprises, and romance that this author delivered as she introduced this unique and fabulous Urban Fantasy world in the first book. The answer to that question is "oh yes, it certainly does!" If anything, this book elevated my love for this series another few notches. The events that occurred at the end of book #1 have had some profound aftereffects on Wes which, in turn, were the catalyst for every single thing that happens in this story. So, it is almost imperative that book #1 be read before this one. You know what the old saying is..."anything that can go wrong will go wrong"?? Well, our Wes is at the middle of it all. The author does an outstanding job of coming up with surprises and creative ways to make this world and its supernatural elements feel fresh and exciting, while keeping us on our proverbial toes throughout it all. The truth will always win out, and when it did, it was just as impactful as Wes feared it would be. If it was possible, it upped the angst factor that was already present in the story from the start by about 150%. At the heart of Wes and Hud’s relationship is their past. How they ended decades before, and the lack of any sort of real trust to speak of between them at this stage. This is their second time around and they are still a "work-in-progress". Events in this book bring them closer together in yet another beautifully done romantic turn. You can't help but love them both...each as individuals and together as a couple. I'm anxious to see what form Wes’s magic will take and the effects, if any, it will continue to have on everyone, especially their friends, Hud and Evan. Overall... it's a creative and engaging task of storytelling on Jenn Burke's part. She has helped the characters to have quickly earned a place in my long list of "must read favorites". This is paranormal fiction, with heartwarming moments and beautiful romantic turns at its best.

Nov 2, 9:29 am

The Checklist Manifesto – Atul Gawande
Book on CD read by John Bedford Lloyd

Subtitle: How to Get Things Right

Gawande became well-known for his original book of essays Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science, in which he outlined some of the difficulties faced by modern-day surgeons despite the very best training and equipment. He wrote it while still a resident in training, and followed it up a few years later with Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance where he described more of his observations and shared his thoughts and questions for continued improvement. THIS book is his third.

He explains how a tool used in many industries to ensure that complex procedures are carried out in a “best practices” way consistently might be (and has been) applied to the complexities of modern medicine. What is this tool? A checklist.

I loved his earlier books partly because I am a total geek about medicine. So this book was slow to get my attention because he wrote about pilots and construction managers in some detail before getting around to applying that checklist tool to medicine. But when he began to relate the world-wide study undertaken under the auspices of the World Health Organization, I began to feel his enthusiasm for the subject, and his (and others’) excitement over the early results.

Still, for me at least, it seemed to be missing some of the “special sauce” that his earlier works (and his later work: Being Mortal”) had. I expect that this is partly due to the fact that this book is much more clearly aimed at the medical professional, and was, therefore, less personal to me. Still, you can bet I’ll be asking my surgeon / anesthetist / nurse about their use of a checklist the next time I have to have any surgical procedure!

John Bedford Lloyd did a fine job of narrating the audiobook, although I think the book might be best appreciated in text format.

Nov 2, 11:02 am

After Care - Tanya Chris
Ever After Series Book #1
Narrator: Joel Leslie
Genera: M/M Romance/BDSM
Garrett, a defense attorney, is a man who had lost everything with the death of his husband, who was the love of his life...his everything, his privacy, his law practice…and his Dom. He'd been drifting for 3 years when his future comes knocking at his door. Aayan is conflicted about everything he feels. His reason for tracking down Garrett is not that he can’t get the man out of his mind. It's that he desperately wants/needs to save his brother, Syed, from a charge of murder...a murder that he didn’t commit. Aayan's feelings for the man that is defending his brother are just making everything more complicated. I liked this story much more than I thought I would. I have no patience for people that judge others for their way of life, what church they do or don't go to, what their political views are, the color of their skin or who they choose to love. The man on trial for his life in this story was being tried for all of these things under the guise of murder because his lover died while they were consensually practicing something they both wanted. The side characters in the story are a mixed bag, but in a mostly good way. I really liked Aayan’s ex and Garrett’s secretary. Both were strong female characters who totally support the couple in their journey toward each other. It was interesting to see how Garrett’s mind worked as he defended Syed. The author does a great job of allowing us in on some of Garrett’s thought processes as he uses the personal knowledge, he has of the BDSM community and the law to make sure that Syed doesn’t end up in jail. Aayan is a wonderful character and I loved watching his struggle to reconcile his feelings for Garrett and the faith that he’s trying to make peace with. Mostly I enjoyed this story. The characters are complex and compelling, and the storyline kept me interested without pushing things along too quickly. It would be a good introduction story for someone who’s curious about the BDSM lifestyle. It gives a decent example without pushing anything too far and coming off as scary. This will not be my last read from this author.

Nov 3, 7:03 am

A Little Bit Naughty - Reese Morrison - (Oregon, New York)
Destination Daddies Series Book #1
Genera: M/M Romance/Daddy, little
The story was sweet with a stubborn "little", Isaac, who was transgender and not at all completely confident of his changed body. At a weekend retreat in the Oregan mountains, he met and fell hard for a strong and determined "Daddy", Remi, who absolutely adored him no matter what his body was or wasn't. I admired and rooted for "Daddy" Remi who did everything in his power to learn everything he could about his "little" Isaac, about his sexuality as well as his Jewish culture. Remi knew that now that he had found his perfect "little" that there was absolutely no way he was going to let him go, even if they were separated by almost 3,000 miles. Isaac's time in Oregan was on a strict time limit as he would soon have to return to New York where he had well over a year left to complete his studies as a physical therapist. He and Remi had to sort out how and if they could actually do a very long-distance relationship or if they would have to have just the short time together in Oregon. (Thank you whoever invented the internet.) Their relationship was special to each of them, and they really wanted this to be possible...but distance is not usually kind to these types, and it was something they were going to have to handle for almost two years. Remi was the perfect "Daddy" and Isaac knew he would probably never find another one like him....one that would so easily accept him as he was. Remi was in every way not only accepting but also, I thought most important...respectful of Isaac and his special needs, from his changed body to his "little" persona as well as the traditions of his Jewish religion. I had never encountered much of a transgender side in any romance story, M/M or F/M... but I do believe that Remi went above and beyond for the man he loved. Good story but the book is very, very long... nearly 400 paged. I liked it enough that now have the second book in this series.

Nov 4, 9:30 am

A Spirited Tail - Leighann Dobbs - (New Hampshire)
Genera: Cozy Mystery/Paranormal
I don't usually read cozy mysteries. They just don't seem to have enough "mystery" for me but this one was sent to me by my daughter...so Mom spent a half a day immersed in what turned out to be a fairy good story. I think that was mainly because it had cats and dogs ...and talking cats and dogs at that:) The story also had several lighthearted moments. It's a story that the cats and dogs are smarter than the people... especially the cats. They helped solve the crimes. There were also ghosts to add a little more fun, but they never took away from the serious nature of the crime committed. I also enjoy that the cats and dogs and the ghosts were never at odds with one another...not cat fights:) This was the first book that I had read by this author and can't say that I will ever read another one, not because of anything about the writing or the story content, but just because it's not my type of book. Anyone that loves cozy mysteries will more than likely eat it up. You have to suspend your disbelief about talking animals and put up with things that you know would never happen in real life. Overall...not at all a bad story...just not what I would choose to read on my own...but I thank my lovely daughter.

Nov 4, 4:20 pm

The Porcupine Year / Louise Erdrich
3 stars

A continuation of two other books to start this series, also a children’s book, set in the mid-1800s, focusing on a young Anishinaabe/Ojibwe girl, Omakayas (Little Frog). This follows another year in her life. Initially she and her younger brother get caught up in some rapids in their canoe and are not sure where they’ve ended up. They do find their way back to their family (who has found some beads belonging to Omakayas and fear the two have died!), along with a pet baby porcupine! Other happenings include coming across a wildfire (as they travel toward more family living elsewhere) and “adopting” two white children. Later on the group is ambushed and robbed, leaving them to struggle to survive.

I didn’t like this one as much as the first two, though that little porcupine was cute! I hate that had to leave the little guy behind at one point while he slept. *sniff *sniff.. I’m not sure why this one didn’t hold my interest as well as the first two in the series, but I did lose focus a few times. (Note: I was not listening to an audio, so can’t blame it on that.) I will continue the series, however.

Nov 4, 10:40 pm

Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland / Bill Willingham
3.5 stars

Bigby (the Big Bad Wolf) has travelled to a small town in Iowa (Story City) to investigate whether or not Fabletown might relocate nearby. He is surprised by what he discovers there – it’s a town of werewolves! Not only that, the two people who head the town are people from Bigby’s past during WWII. Bigby is known (and revered) amongst all of Story City’s residents. But there is dissent within, and Bigby will get caught up in the “disagreements”.

For those who don’t know, this is a spin-off of the graphic novel Fables series. As with the rest of the series, the colour illustrations are very well done. I have not always been all that interested in Bigby as a character, but I liked this story. It’s been a while since I’ve read any of the Fables series, and it was fun to read another.

Nov 5, 8:54 am

Before the Ever After – Jacqueline Woodson

I love poetry and try to get at least one poetry read in April each year. This novel is verse is suitable for middle-school-aged children but deals with a serious issue – brain injury resulting from multiple concussions while participating in contact sports.

ZJ is the only child of professional football star Zachariah Johnson, but to ZJ, his father isn’t a star, he is “Just my dad.” The action takes place beginning in 1999, before doctors had clearly identified chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and the role that repeated blows to the head played in development of this degenerative brain disease. ZJ and his parents struggle to make sense of what is happening to the formerly strong, happy, loving father and husband. ZJ is helped by his best buddies: Darry, Ollie and Daniel. These boys comfort and distract ZJ when things get tough.

I am in awe at how much information Woodson can convey in so few words. The poetry format allows the author to get straight to the emotion of the situation. But make no mistake, she paints some vivid pictures and fully realized characters.

At the end of the story, Woodson includes a note about CTE and the efforts of the medical community (and professional sports organizations) to combat it. I recall recently seeing a news article about a newly designed football helmet specifically for quarterbacks.

Nov 5, 9:53 am

All Tied Up - Reese Morrisson - (Oregon)
Destination Daddies Series
Genera: M/M/M Romance/Daddy & Boys Relationship
It's a lovely, sweet M/M/M romance and it does have lots of kink. Reese Morrison is one of my favorite authors and I don't think there has been a single book that I didn't like. The only thing I found about this book, and it really isn't a complaint, was that it is really LONG... just shy of 500 pages. It seemed almost like the author didn't quite know how to end it...or maybe didn't want to. You just have to love the characters and their dynamics. Neil is so sweet that I just wanted to wrap him up and hug him. Jamie is fun, bright and so mischievous bringing a balance to the more stoic Sebastian, the "Daddy". The book as a whole is sweet and cuddly. There’s a little angst between the characters, but not so much that you don't know that it's going to work itself out. Sebastian and Jamie are the owners of the Meadowlark Retreat in the beautiful mountains of Oregon. Neil has come to spend a weekend as a guest at one of their kink weekends hoping to find a "Daddy" of his own. He caught both Sebastian and Jamie's eye right away and the fun begins. Neil, the tense older lawyer meets these two laid back owners, and he knows without a doubt that they are what he wants and needs...but is afraid he is too old and too inexperienced for them to be interested in him. This book is a part of a multi-author series called "Destination Daddies". The premise of the series is that users of a kinky dating app are signing up for singles meet-ups all over the country. (If you read any of the Naughty or Nice books at Christmastime, you’ll recognize it.) The individual books are all standalone stories, so you don’t have to read the others to read any of them. None of the 3 guys in this new relationship are "littles", but Jamie and Neil are both subs that seek domination. The only content note, other than the kink, that I think some might have a problem with is that Sebastian and Jamie have a committed relationship, but it is a polyamorous relationship. I know that that is not everybody’s cup of tea.

Nov 5, 5:38 pm

When the Stars Go Dark / Paula McLain
4 stars

Annie’s a detective who find missing kids. This has cut into her family time and she has left (at least for now) and headed back to where she grew up with her adoptive parents. When she was younger, a teenager – a couple of years older than Annie – went missing. Now, another teen girl is missing. One of Annie’s childhood friends is heading the investigation and Annie can’t help but get involved to try to help. The girl missing now, Cameron, is the (adopted) daughter of a famous actress, and so far, they’ve been looking without too much fanfare, as Cameron’s parents didn’t want to go to the media with it.

The book goes back and forth in time between the current-day search for Cameron and Annie’s childhood (both her childhood in general (pre- and post-adoption), and the search for the missing girl, Jenny). I listened to the audio book.

I really liked this. I will admit that there were multiple times where I missed who someone was, so it took me a bit of time to figure it out (and I even backed up to the start of the book to catch things I thought I might have missed – I almost never do that, but I was interested enough in what was going on, I wanted to find out). One thing I did like with the audio is that the narrator made it easy to tell which time frame we were in, just by the voice she used for a younger Annie, so I thought that was done well.

There was a short author’s note at the end, so it was interesting to find out one of the missing girls in the book (not either of the two mentioned in my summary) was a real person! And I liked that she decided to set the book pre-internet, pre-cell phone, as well (also talked about in the author’s note).

Nov 6, 7:15 am

The Visitant - Kathleen O'Neal Gear - (New Mexico)
Genera: Mystery/Suspense /Archeology
I found the plot line of the book to be interesting as well as quite unique. We have a serial killer murder mystery set among the Anasazi peoples with an archaeology crew excavating his victim hundreds of years later. It was a solid mystery that became even more compelling as it went along. Stone Ghost was the best character...a gifted detective with a well-rounded knowledge of psychology, even if he was a bit eccentric. It was difficult to guess the killer, but the clues were all there and yet the ending was still surprising. The story actually runs in two plotlines, modern times and historical times, connected by the place that once was a village but now is an archaeological dig site. The one thing that I thought was unnecessary and brought the story down a bit for me, as well as losing the book a 5-star rating, was the way the author chose to introduce and give the reader a picture of the two main characters. The archaeologist was brilliant, but he was instantly reduced to the pages of a "bodice-ripper" book when the author described him in great detail as "a blond, rugged, muscular Adonis". I was now waiting for his "goddess" to appear and didn't have too long to wait. She, of course was described as"A full breasted, small waisted equally brilliant scholar". How did that really matter? Well, except that they were brilliant scholars and capable of solving the murders. Turns out that it really didn't matter what either of them looked like...they hated each other at first sight and throughout most of the story...but you probably know how long the "hated" lasted and where all that was heading. The author also brought forth the interesting question of science versus spiritual belief, but never explored it any further. The perfect opportunity was there several times. She had created two expert characters that could have added their individual views and knowledge on this question to the story. The majority of the book was 4-star worthy but a little less of the "blond, rugged Adonis" and "full breasted, small waisted" descriptions and more about the ancient peoples and the killer would have brought this story up to a solid 5-star read.

Nov 6, 3:36 pm

Clean Start At Forty-Seven - Nora Phoenix - (Florida)
Forty-Seven Duology Book #1
Narrator: John Solo
Genera: M/M Romance/Age Gap
I'm really, really glad I read the two books out of order. If I hadn't, I'm not sure I could have brought myself to have ever read the second book. I hated the stress and angst in this one...and would have been on edge the entire time wondering if all this turmoil would ever be resolved before the book ended. I loved Kinsey and Benoni, especially Benoni. Kinsey is 22 years older than Benoni and Benoni is Kinsey's son's best friend. Fate and good common sense say they should never be a good fit, and yet...they are. Nora Phoenix never lets her readers down. We have Kinsey who is an addict from drugs taken from an injury. He's a former ER doctor, only recently out as gay and divorced. He struggles a lot with his extremist religious up bringing, which was way over the top infuriating, judgmental and unforgiving on his parents and his grandfather's part. The poor man was beyond helpless trying to straighten out a life that never needed straightening out to begin with. He was a sad, awkward, self-deprecating, virgin that just needed someone to tell him that his God loved him no matter what the hypocrites pushed down his young throat. From the start I was 100% committed to Kinsey and to their future happiness. Kinsey and Benoni's romance and friendship will touch your heart!

Nov 6, 11:56 pm

When Books Went to War / Molly Guptill Manning
3 stars

When the Americans joined WWII, someone had an idea to help with the soldiers’ mental health and morale: give them books to take their mind off things and give them something to do when not fighting. Librarians organized and people donated to the tune of 10 million books! Later on, it was decided that publishers should be creating softcover books (until this time, the vast majority of publishers created hardcover books), so the books would be both smaller and lighter for soldiers to carry with them.

As I read this I wondered if something similar was done for Canadian soldiers, too, but it sounds like this might have been an American thing. Canadians weren’t mentioned, but it seems that the British soldiers were quite jealous of the books the American soldiers had access to. Unfortunately, this book didn’t always hold my interest. There were chapters on politics, and censorship, but I was most interested in the soldiers themselves. There was some description of the fighting and such, but the author also included comments on what the soldiers thought of the books that were sent (hint: for the most part, they loved it!). The last chapter also talked about how many soldiers became readers who hadn’t been before the war. This chapter also talked about how to help the soldiers (with jobs or education) when they came home. Overall, though, due to me losing interest more than I would have liked, I’m rating it “ok”.

Editado: Nov 7, 7:54 am

For The Love of A Boy - Morticia Knight - (Oregon)
Father Series Book #2
Genera: M/M Romance/Daddy/Boy Relationship
These books absolutely need to be read in order since it's a continuous story with one taking up where the one before it leaves off. Malcom and Seth are the perfect characters for this series as well as the perfect couple. They're settling nicely into their relationship and are still exploring their Daddy/Boy relationship. The story starts out a little slow, but things pick up as they start to face Seth’s past. Seth has, and will probably always have, a lot of lingering trauma from his past, which is understandable, but Malcom (Daddy), is determined to help him through it and be the supportive, understanding "Daddy" that his "Boy" needs. While we are told about the things that happened to him before he ran away, and in this one we learn that he is now seeing Dr. Clay, a therapist...we don’t get to see the emotional fallout from those sessions, which must have been over whelming for Seth. I found myself hoping to at least see that Seth was benefiting and finding peace. The police are finally involved, and we did begin to see that Seth's father and the so-called church, were going to finally get the punishment that they so rightly deserved. Just when I started to believe that Seth was safe, we see that the "church" had also been busy trying to find him. I wondered when that would happen back from the end of book #1. I always thought the perfect isolation that this couple enjoyed, was going to eventually come back to bite them. We do get the hint of a very solid "happy for now" and the assurance that these two will get their happy ending, so I can't wait to see that all play out in the final installment.... which, of course, I have started. Morticia Knight has always presented a more than worthwhile read with excellent characters that you can easily love or equally hate in everything she writes. I Loved her Kiss of Leather series. I have read it three times now and I know I will reread this trilogy again many times also.

Nov 7, 10:23 am

The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman
Digital audiobook performed by Lesley Manville

Four residents of a luxury retirement community form the Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim bring their collective intelligence and specific expertise to puzzle over cold-case files in the community’s Jigsaw room each week. But now they have a recent murder to try to solve. They may be in their seventies, but don’t underestimate their talent and resolve.

Gosh but I loved this! It was NOT “cute” … the four friends are absolutely serious about this investigation, but they each have issues, and secrets, that impact their work. Each of the characters has time in the spotlight as the novel progresses, but Osman gives Joyce a first-person narrative voice (she’s writing in her diary / journal), and that lends an interesting change in perspective in the chapters focusing on her.

There are a LOT of characters; close to twenty different characters have a significant presence in the book. I really should have kept a list. I particularly liked PC Donna de Freitas, and the storylines involving John and Penny, and Bernard and Asima. And I loved the continuing chess game(s) between Bogdan and Stephen. Osman gave us some thrilling scenes, as well as scenes of great tenderness, and some humor to lighten the mood every once in a while.

Lesley Manville does a fine job of performing the audio. Like I said, there are MANY characters, and she was up to the task. As a bonus on the audio, there is an interview with Richard Osman, conducted by fellow author Marian Keyes.

Editado: Nov 7, 12:50 pm

Shirley Jackson
4/5 stars
Natalie, a seventeen-year-old, is the main character in this novel by Shirley Jackson. Her life at home is stifling and when she finally gets away to go to college she doesn't like her life at college either. This story is based on a true event about a young college coed who went missing in the 1940's and was never found. Intriguing!

Editado: Nov 7, 2:48 pm

I'd Know You Anywhere - Laura Lipman - (Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia)
Genera: Mystery/Serial Killer/Death Penalty
A suburban wife and mother receives a letter that forces her to confront her past. The letter is one she never thought or wanted, to ever hear from again, the man who kidnapped her as a teenager. Eliza Benedict thought the toughest part of moving back from London, where her husband Peter had been the Wall Street Journal’s bureau chief, would be settling her kids, eight-year-old Albie and Iso (Isobel) in the D.C. suburbs. Her daughter’s teenage rebellion, no matter how sharp, pales in comparison to the letter she receives from the killer and kidnapper...Walter Bowman, who held Elizabeth Lerner captive when she was 15 for almost six weeks, driving with her through Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. It was in that last state, that surveyors finally decided, that he’d killed another teen...13-year-old Holly Tackett, making him eligible for the death penalty in Virginia. Ex-teacher Barbara Lafortuny, who received a settlement from the school district after an altercation with a student, now spends her days practicing yoga and fiercely opposing capital punishment. She tracks down Elizabeth, who is now an adult. Walter and Barbara form a plan that might spare Walter, if, and it's a big if, they can get Elizabeth to cooperate. Elizabeth is the one victim Walter didn’t kill, and as strange as it seems, is willing to risk the secure life she’s built from a horrifying past, to do just that. I had read that this story originally had been written as a psychological study, or studies, and not as a thriller. I think from other reviews that most people, including myself, were expecting it to be a story of horror or suspense, and I can understand that, but it was really a look into the lives and minds of the various characters, particularly Eliza. The book really reflects and analyzes the moral, uncomfortable issue about capital punishment and in this respect, the author offers, through the characters, different opinions, which will definitely give the reader something to think about without necessarily asking them to change their opinions...and yes, everyone does have one.

Nov 8, 6:52 am

Now and Forever - Morticia Knight - (Oregon)
Father Series Book #3
Genera: M/M Romance/ Daddy/Boy Relationship
Malcolm and Seth are settling into their life together in a daddy/boy dynamic, but there are still hurdles they need to clear. Seth has yet to actually meet Malcolm’s parents which happens in this installment. I love Malcom's mother and his dad was so clueless but simply adorable at the same time. Then there is still the trial of Seth’s father and the other church leaders who imprisoned him. Seth may have to return to Idaho to face them and testify after he has worked so hard to become more confident after 3 years of being away from them. I was confident that Malcolm would be able to get Seth through the challenges that faced him...but wondered how far back it was going to send him. In this third and final installment of the Father series, the characters are so well established that you begin to think of them as your close friends. They remained consistent throughout the books, and even manage to grow through every event, good or bad that makes up the full arc of the story. Seth’s progress throughout the three books always seemed natural, as does his occasional step backward, but Malcome was always there offering him unconditional love and support. This story didn't exactly follow the plot I was use to or that I was anticipating based on how book 2 ended. The big dramatic moment I was expecting turned out to not be the big deal that I was expecting. The actual turn of events is definitely a surprise but not what was expected. Unpredictable yet heartwarming events in a story with characters that you almost look at as family, always makes a much better read. Reading Seth’s journey was difficult at times. Sometimes, like most readers, I have to remind myself that it's a work of fictional...but Seth's and the others experiences at the hands of his ultra-conservative church and his father, is unfortunately entirely believable. My state recently had a case that was almost exactly like Seth's experiences with his church. Malcolm had a halo and wings stored somewhere I'm sure:). He usually seemed a bit too good to be true, but he was exactly what Seth needed and it was great to know that he wasn't going to overreact to anything that Seth said or did. He was going to make his "boy" feel loved and protected every single time. The big turn of events in this book shows Malcolm coming across as a lot more like a normal human being. I loved him anyway he was from the time he met lost Seth in that little bar to their big event in the end. This trilogy is going to be good for many rereads.

Nov 8, 8:34 am

No Land To Light On– Yara Zgheib
Digital audiobook performed by Fayir Al-Kaisi, Ali Andre Ali, and Suehyla El-Attar.

From the book jacket: Sama and Hadi are a young Syrian couple in love, dreaming of their future in the country that brought them together. Sama came to Boston years before on a scholarship to Harvard; Hadi landed there as a sponsored refugee from a civil war. Now they are giddily awaiting the birth of their son, whose native language will be freedom and belonging. When Sama is five months pregnant, Hadi’s father dies suddenly, and Hadi decides to fly back for the funeral, promising his wife he will be gone only a few days. On the date of his return Sama waits for him at the arrivals gate, but he doesn’t appear. She is unaware that Hadi has been stopped by US Customs and Border Protection, detained for questioning, and deported.

My reactions:
Oh, I am so sorry I had to miss my F2F book club discussion on this book! One president’s decision to ban immigrants from certain countries results in a devastating separation. These are educated people. Upright citizens-in-waiting with responsible jobs and many American friends in this, their adopted country. The way they are treated is shameful! How easily we have forgotten our own roots, our own ancestors’ struggles to come here for a chance at a peaceful existence, to raise families, and find success through hard work.

I know a woman whose husband was similarly detained, deported and barred from returning to her. She lives alone, with occasional phone contact with the man she loves and who loves her. In limbo. I could not help but think of them when reading this work of fiction.

I admit that when listening I completely misinterpreted the final chapter. In my initial reaction I was stunned at how the characters reacted. And then I went back and read the last three chapters in text and came to a completely different understanding. This is a book that made me think … and I’ll be pondering it for some time.

The audiobook is narrated by three talented voice artists. This was a very effective way to highlight the changing points of view.

Editado: Nov 8, 12:36 pm

Secrets & Scandal- Gianni Holmes - (Ohio)
Scandal Duology Book #1
Genera: M/M Romance
This was difficult to rate as I spent most of the book hating the character of Poppy. She's having a baby that isn't her husband's, but he is willing to buy the baby from her and has even given her stock in his company as a pre-payment. Slut is too good a word to describe the woman. She is way beyond that and actually give the sluts of the world a bad name. I think her husband also perhaps needs his head examined...but he wants the baby that she's carrying that isn't his and seems to give in to all her demands. A great deal of the rest of the story I spent trying to figure out what in the world difference did it matter if the two guys that were interested in one another were related by marriage??? I'm going to listen to the second part of this hoping that these people will either get a brain or at least a backbone. The book isn't badly written, the story is interesting, but the characters are horrible...well... except for the dog.

Editado: Nov 9, 8:19 am

Ice Hunter - Joseph Heywood - (Michigan U.P.)
Woods Cop Mystery Series Book#2
Genera: Mystery
I live in Michigan although not in the U.P. Our U.P. is unbelievably beautiful but believe me it is an entire "country" unto itself...or at least it would like to be:) I had the honor of meeting this author and his lovely wife last night when he was a guest speaker at my library. I read his first book The Snowfly because I had never read anything by him and didn't want to go into the discussion session not knowing anything about him or his books. I couldn't get into that story at all but thought maybe it was just me and I should really try another. After two books I have come to the conclusion that his books are well written, and the characters are a bit unusual but still interesting, but they are not my "cuppa" tea. I'm not a sexist but I believe that this series might be more male oriented...not that there are not women that enjoy hunting, fishing, and camping. My mother loved doing all of this... but all of these activities are firmly ingrained into this mystery series as well as the Wildlife Officer Grady. I can't relate to this very well, so I have concluded that I'm really not into this series. As I said however, that even with all that against it, what I read was well done. The characters were different and totally selfless. There are a lot of abbreviations in this story that I was unfamiliar with. There should be a page somewhere that explains what they mean. In spite of not caring for the story, I certainly did enjoy meeting the author. I have nothing but the highest admiration for anyone that can actually write an entire book, much less an entire series, but I think I will remember what a delightful and gifted man he is and let others enjoy his books. On a sidenote: If you have never visited the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where these books are set...if you take the trip across the 5-mile-long Mackinac Bridge that connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, you will be in for a breathtaking treat. As you can see, I love my adopted state.

Nov 9, 9:26 am

The Painted Drum – Louise Erdrich
Book on CD narrated by Anna Fields.

Faye Travers and her mother run an antiques business in their New Hampshire town. When Faye is asked to appraise an estate, she discovers a that the man who died is descended from an Indian agent who worked on the Ojibwe reservation that is home to Faye’s mother’s family. Among the artifacts in the attic is a rare drum. From this point the story moves back and forth, in time and location, as we learn the history – and future – of this particular drum.

This isn’t Erdrich’s best work. It’s slow to start and I wasn’t all that interested in Faye’s current love life. In part two, we have an abrupt jump to the reservation and Bernard Shawano takes up the story, relating how his grandfather came to fashion the drum, and its significance to the family. I found this section, and part three, much more compelling, but I had to wonder what happened to Faye and why Erdrich had just abandoned her storyline. Eventually the reader gets all the pieces of the puzzle and the connection between the storylines becomes clear. Still, I think I would have preferred the book if Erdrich had just focused on the drum’s origin and meaning to the Shawano family, and left Faye out of it.

Anna Fields does a fine job of narrating the audiobook. She sets a good pace and has the skill as a voice artist to differentiate the many characters.

Nov 10, 7:11 am

His Boy To Tame - Skyler Snow - (Georgia)
Naughty or Nice series Season Two
Genera: M/M Romance
I love this multi author series. All the seasons are available on Amazon, and most are available on Hoopla. There was a season one and this is part of season two, and there is also a season 3. I hope that it continues. It's called "Naughty or Nice". The kink club, Cuffed, sets up a web site where the 'Boys" and "Daddy's" can write letters saying what they are looking for in a potential partner or just a friend. They've already had background checks since both "boy" and "daddy" must be members of the club and the choice is theirs rather to meet up or not. The question they have to answer on site is if they want to be "naughty" or "nice". Clay is a Georgia farmer that has almost given up on finding love or finding a boy to even just play with. Ty is a bit of a brat that lives in Florida, comes with a set of controlling parents that have more money than good common sense and are determined that Ty is going to take over his father's company. Ty is determined that he is going to be as rebellious as possible and IS ABSOLUTELY NOT, EVER going to be taking over anything anywhere. Ty writes his letter and Clay's friends convince him to answer it. Turns out, of course, that they are simply perfect for each other. Clay the lonely "daddy" who is still very wary but still willing to try with a boy, and bratty Ty, who is hiding behind a lot of pain and anger and just needs a "Daddy" to guide, love, and protect him...and in Clay, he finds those things. These two have a pretty bumpy start but together they are simply amazing.

Nov 11, 8:32 am

Murder In the Sentier – Cara Black

Book number three in the Aimée LeDuc Investigations mystery series. This time it’s personal. A woman contacts Aimee and promises information about Aimée’s mother, who disappeared when Aimee was very young. The woman says she knew Aimée’s mother when they were in prison together, a revelation to Aimee. For the next week, Aimée will ignore the press of usual business, and the pleas of her partner, René, in order to focus on finding out the truth of her mother’s past and where she might be today.

I like Aimée as a lead character. I like that she is intelligent, independent, resilient, strong, and more than capable when it comes to defending herself. But I was not a great fan of this storyline. While I appreciate getting to know more about Aimée’s background, and issues that drive her forward in the present, I didn’t really connect with the politics of this storyline. There were so many twists and turns that I had difficulty keeping things straight.

And I really want more of René. He’s such an interesting character … or I think he is. I hope that he gets a chance to shine in future episodes of the series.

Nov 11, 10:27 am

Master Zane's Boys - Morticia Knight - (Massachusetts)
Club Sensation Series Book #1
Genera: M/M/M Romance/Daddy Boy/BDSM
I would have liked Master Zane even if this wasn't an M/M Romance. He was simply a sweet, caring individual that does everything he possibly can to give the BDSM community a safe place for the people that want to practice that lifestyle. He’s justifiably upset to know there’s a sadistic predator somewhere out there who wants to hurt and even kill, subs. He himself has a sweet "boy/little" of his own, Ryan. Ryan works at the shelter, where one night on his way home, he finds Tyrese, (Ty) outside in the cold. Ryan is compassionate, so he is naturally heartbroken with this find. He decides to take TY to a coffee shop to warm up and find out what has happened that he's outside in the freezing wet cold instead of in the safe, warm shelter. Ty has had a rough life that came complete with racists and homophobes, plus he has just escaped his abusive partner, so now he has absolutely nothing, no job, no home, and worse... no hope left for his future. Ryan knows Master Zane would never turn anyone out whether they were gay or straight, so home he goes with Ty in tow. Ty doesn't completely understand Ryan and Master Zane's relationship or the BDSM lifestyle that they live...but their kindness alone is more than he has ever had in his entire life, and he wants more of it desperately. All he's ever known was being horrible abused by his parents and brutely controlled by his ex that he was running and trying to hide from. As it turns out his ex was a very powerful man that had mob connections and is determined to find his "property"...namely, Ty. Ty soon realizes that he has to tell Master Zane and Ryan all he knows about his ex if he hopes to ever have their help, much less their love. The BDSM aspects are all done very well, and the harmonious atmosphere was palpable. The Daddy/boy parts were beautifully portrayed, decent, and all consensual. Zane was not only a caring "Daddy", but an outstanding human being. I liked that the heavier parts were more secondary, and the romance front and center. But then, I have come to expect nothing less from Morticia Knight.

Nov 12, 8:53 am

Rilla Of Ingleside – L M Montgomery
Digital audiobook narrated by Emily Durante.

Book eight in the “Anne of Green Gables” series focuses on Anne’s youngest child. Rilla is fifteen, starting to get interested in boys and dances, but needing to worry about her brothers and friends now that World War I has started.

I never read this series as a child or young adult, so am slowly working my way through them now. It’s hard to believe that this book is one hundred years old! Despite what TODAY is an historical setting, when written it was contemporary and it has that feel to it. There are young women today, going through many of the issues that Rilla experiences: first love, worry about a brother sent to fight overseas, grief over friends or relatives who’ve died too young. There are also the day-to-day relationships within a family: child to parent, or between siblings. These ring true today as they did when Montgomery wrote the story.

I love how Rilla rises to the challenges imposed by the war; she takes on leadership of a committee, and the raising of a war-orphaned child. I loved, too, how she put together a wedding on short notice for her friend. I see a lot of the young Anne in Rilla.

This is the last in the series, and I’m sorry it’s over. There is a collection of short stories (The Blythes Are Quoted), as well as a prequel authorized by Montgomery’s estate (and written by Budge Wilson) that I may yet read.

Emily Durante does a wonderful job performing the audio version. She sets a good pace and I loved the way she interpreted Rilla.

Editado: Nov 12, 9:41 am

Boys & Toys - Morningstar Ashley - (North Carolina)
Aces Wild Series - Book #9
Genera: M/M Romance
This is a short novella, a part of the Ace's Wild Series. Like all the stories, it features the shop, Ace's Wild. This is an interesting, special type of shop that anyone that reads M/M Romances will immediately understand. In this story we have Kaleb, a 20-year-old university student and his roommate and his best friend's brother, Jax. Their relationship was really cute, and the "toys" they explored with seemed to be fun. I don't usually care for novellas. They're usually too short to really let you get to know the characters and sometimes the story is rushed toward whatever HEA or not that they are going to get. The start of this story was one that was a bit slow, and then due to the length of the book, yes, I know what a novella is:), the actual relationship itself felt overly rushed. I wanted the leadup to the relationship to have been longer. It only received a 3.5-star rating because I just didn't see enough of the two characters actually getting to know one another while exploring what their budding relationship was going to become. Overall...I like this little series. Sometimes a sweet read is enough and this one qualifies for that. Wish these two had stuck around longer...but I have seen other characters pop up for brief "visits"...so maybe we will see more of Kalab and Jax in another story.

Nov 12, 9:35 pm

A Tangled Web / Mercedes Lackey
4 stars

Persephone is in love with Hades (keeper of the Underworld), and he with her. But her mother, Demeter (goddess of fertility) is way-overprotective and Persephone wants to get out from under her wing. Persephone and Hades come up with a plan to “kidnap” her to the underworld in a way where she wouldn’t be able to come back. Unfortunately, with the help of Hades sometimes-chariot-driver, the wrong goddess is kidnapped!

I really enjoyed this! I learned a little bit about mythology, as well. I’m sure I knew some of this at some point, but most of what I once knew I’ve forgotten! It’s a short story, so it’s fairly quick to read.

Nov 12, 9:56 pm

Noir / Christopher Moore
3.25 stars

Sammy is a bartender in 1947 San Francisco. Right around the time he starts dating a beautiful “broad” (her name is Stilton, like the cheese, so he nicknames her “The Cheese”), he also finds his boss dead in the back room. In addition to this, the book includes kidnappings, a snake (and there’s more I’m forgetting).

I was listening to the audio and I did miss portions of the book, though I managed to take in the major events of the book. I liked the POV of the snake the couple of times we got that. I gave an extra ¼ star (my usual) for the very good audio with the accents. The phrases and vocabulary was pretty fun, too. Moore’s trademark is humour, so of course, there was a bit of that, too. Moore also had a brief afterward where he talked about where he got the idea for the book, how that went a bit sideways, and the real places that made it into the book. I still think he writes really good historical fiction and this fit the bill for that, too (like with “Lamb”).

Nov 13, 7:07 am

His Boy To Restore - Hayden Hall
Naughty or Nice Series, Season Two
Genera: M/M Romance/Daddy, Boy
Cuffd is offering another year of "Dear Santa" letters for Doms and their boys to find their special someone for Christmas. Dante is struggling. His OCD is bad enough but is now he's being transferred to yet another therapist who will undoubtably change his meds yet AGAIN! Changing his meds messes up his life even more than the OCD does. It seems to be a vicious circle and he just keeps going round and round. Then he meets his new gorgeous therapist, Grant. Grant wants to try some new types of therapy that will hopefully stop the circle that controls and cripples his life. Between his new therapist and his "secret Daddy", that the "Cuffd Santa" letters had given him, things were starting to look brighter...but he can't dismiss the attraction that is simmering between him and Grant. Dante’s story really hit home for me as I had worked with a wonderful man who had severe OCD that almost ruled every aspect of his life. Dante was fortunate. His best friend and roommate, Nicole always watched out for him and had his back. Then to have found a therapist that didn't just throw new and more meds at him was a God send. What I really liked was that Grant actually wanted to take a different route to help and not just mask Dante's symptoms. That helped Dante to not only confront this monster but to beat it. With Grant’s love and support I knew that he would help him to grow and be able to live a normal life. It didn't happen overnight, but one day at a time and we saw Dante experience what life and love had to offer him. Hayden Hall did an excellent job of describing the issues that Dante had to live with every day. It did become a bit on the side of questionable, that the relationship between the two developed, but I was glad he gave it a way that could be accepted with the advice of Grant's friend and colleague, Kate. Grant trusted her and could completely step away from being Dante's therapist to become Dante’s friend, Daddy and lover. I worried while reading the story about the direction it was going, however this route really worked for everyone. Dante got the help he so desperately needed, and he and Grant also got the love and support that allowed them both to be incredibly happy...a healing for them both. Each book in this seasonal series is written by a different author with the same "Cuffd Santa letter" theme. I really enjoyed the series the first year and was happy to see there was yet another year. I hope there is a season three...four ...five etc. The books can be read in any order and the author, Hayden Hall, did a fabulous job with the storyline and the characters.

Editado: Nov 13, 9:12 am

Pay Dirt Road - Samantha Jayne Allen - (Texas)
Annie McIntyre Mysteries Book #1
Genera: Myster/Suspense/Thriller
Annie McIntyre, the main character, has recently returned to her (hometown of Garnett, Texas, after she had graduated from college. She is not quite sure what direction to next take and struggles between the pull of her past, her family, and the world beyond this small town that she knows she has only seen a small part of. She's working as a waitress while she tries to decide what direction she wants to take. That decision gets a big push toward her supposedly retired grandfather and his private investigation firm. One of her co-workers suddenly goes missing and Annie finds herself unable to let this mystery go. The characters...Annie especially, are all unique, well-drawn, very real people who are fascinating to meet and get to know. There were a couple more minor characters that, in my opinion, were not drawn out with quite the same depth that the others were, but that never took away from the intensity or the enjoyment of the story. The settings will be very familiar to anyone who knows the smell of the oil field or the sounds of a VFW Hall Honky-Tonk. The world she creates is simply tangible and real and the twist at the end is surprising and dramatic.

Nov 13, 9:25 am

Boundary Waters– William Kent Krueger
Digital audiobook read by David Chandler.

Adapted from the book jacket: Somewhere in the heart of the Quetico-Superior Wilderness on the Canadian/American border a young woman named Shiloh – a country-western singer at the height of her fame – has disappeared. Her father arrives in Aurora, Minnesota intent on hiring Cork O’Connor, the former sheriff, to find his daughter. Reluctant at first, Cork finds himself forced into joining a search party comprised of Shiloh’s father, an angry ex-convict, a pair of FBI agents, and a ten-year-old boy. But others are on Shiloh’s trail as well; men hired not just to find her, but to kill her.

My reactions:
This is book two in the series and I’m really enjoying getting to know Cork O’Connor, his family and his community.

Cork is part Ojibwe and so he has some connections on the rez who might be able to help in this endeavor. I particularly liked the contributions of Louis, the ten-year-old who listened and absorbed the traditional lessons of his grandfather and who occasionally reminds the adults of that way of thinking.

This is a fast-paced suspense thriller. It takes place over just two days, but a lot happens. There are twists and turns in the plot and neither Cork nor the reader is sure whom to trust. I like that Krueger does NOT have Shiloh sit patiently waiting for rescue; she’s a strong woman in her own right and even though she is unacquainted with the Northwoods wilderness, she is intelligent and works to save herself.

I really appreciate how Krueger writes about the North Woods. The landscape is practically a character – so vibrant and alive and sometimes menacing. I could smell the piney woods, hear the birds, fell the chill of an approaching storm.

I’ve read a later book in the series, and while the plots stand alone, (so far), the relationships do progress, so I recommend that people read them in order.

David Chandler does a fine job of narrating the audiobook. He sets a good pace and has the skills to differentiate the many characters. I really like how he interprets Cork and also Deputy Marsha

Nov 13, 2:57 pm

Look Closer - David Ellis - (Illinois)
Genera: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
This edge of your seat mystery recounts the devious events that led to a grisly Halloween murder. Simon Dobias is a Chicago law professor going for tenure. He’s been contentedly, although not especially happily, married to his wife, Vicky, a social worker at Safe Haven, for nearly ten years. He’s also restarted an affair with a beautiful woman from his past after a chance meeting outside of Bloomingdale’s on Michigan Avenue. What begins with matching burner phones and clandestine meetings, ends with a Grim Reaper costume and the brutal murder of Simon’s lover. Whatever else you think you know in this twisty, intricately plotted story is almost 100% likely to be wrong. The story is told by the characters of Simon, who, of course is the obvious murder suspect; the equally unscrupulous Vicky; and Sgt. Jane Burke, the Grace Village officer charged with solving the suburb’s first homicide...and at least one surprise narrator. We learn about Simon’s relationship with ill-fated sexy, Lauren Betancourt, the circumstances surrounding her death, and the subsequent criminal investigation. Murder is far from the only crime committed amongst this shady bunch, or even the most recent. The full extent of these devious characters' various schemes and revenge plots is revealed in several clues, carefully scattered throughout the story, which, if you are talented in detecting murders, will lead you to the killer and the discovery of a shocking, if somewhat improbable, conclusion. Don't feel bad if you fail in this endeavor as I bet even seasoned mystery readers won’t be able to predict all of the knots in Simon and Vicky’s tangled web of deception. This is truly a roller-coaster ride loaded with unexpected twists and turns. Good work, Mr. Ellis.

Nov 14, 7:32 am

Wrecked - (Vermont)
Wrecked series Book #1
Genera: M/M Romance/Cowboy
I love these two authors and I believe I own almost everything they have written...but this one is NOT an easy read by any stretch of the imagination and there was a BIG part of the plotline that I just couldn't wrap my head around. When the story starts, we are actually dropped into the middle with very little back history and no clear road leading to the future. These two men, the bull riding rodeo cowboy, and the family lawyer, are a married couple. Our lawyer, Beckett Adler, and rodeo bull rider, Skyler Paulson reunite after Beck receives a phone call that no one ever wants to get...Sky was in the hospital in Maryland after being trampled by a bull and they didn't know if he was going to recover. Here's where I had BIG trouble with the plotline. It had been FOUR YEARS since they had seen or spoken to one another... Really??? FOUR YEARS??? We have no explanation or any back history of the WHY of this. They're still married... they still love one another...Beck never hesitated or thought twice about getting himself to Maryland to be with Sky but for there never to have been any communion at all...not one single solitary time...not even a phone call... for FOUR LONG years, just didn't hit any "right" or "possible" buttons for me. I needed an explanation. This is where the story actually picks up and begins when Beck re-enters his husband’s life after the phone call informing him that he needs to get to the hospital if he wants to see Sky before he DIES!! To say that Sky was a "broken" man would have been an understatement. These two guys now take up as if they had seen and spoke only yesterday, for which I was very happy to see...as Sky struggles to regain his physical health. There is all the passion that obviously brought these two men together to start with. Beyond the physical attraction, I still struggled to see the underlying connection between these two. How does a family lawyer and a bull rider even revolve in the same orbit? The singular purpose of the story appeared to be the reunion between Beck and Sky. In spite of still being a bit in the dark, I did really like these characters. The writing is as always exceptional... but the plot line just leaves me with a lot to be desired. Again, I ask...how can two people as deeply in love as these two were and still are, not speak to each other for four years? That is the main problem I find with this story. Granted there are suggestions of possible issues, such as the confusion over Parker, Sky’s traveling companion...but Parker didn't really come across to me to be very much of a real problem. Talk about poor communication...these two takes the blue ribbon...first place...and neither really sees clearly what the issue is with Parker...but the reader will see it right away. This is a truly a second chance-romance story, and I really appreciate that the authors didn't make us wait forever for all the good and right things to happen, but I was just left scratching my head about what happened those four-years ago. Again, the writing is, as always great...but it's just the plot line that was really off for me.

Editado: Nov 14, 11:45 am

Powder and Pavlova - Jay Hogan - (New Zealand)
Southern Lights Series - Book 1
Narrator: Gary Furlong
Genera: M/M Romance
It's a sweet and sexy with a twist new series by Jay Hogan. Hogan seems to have a flair for bringing stories alive and allowing the listener, or the reader, to become a part of them. and her world-building is always something to look forward to. In this first book, we meet Ethan Sharpe, a man struggling under the weight of grief and obligation from his mother’s passing due to terminal cancer, and a crippling guilt that he left home and wasn’t around to help or be with her until shortly before her death. His younger brother, Kurt, will never let Ethan forget that he abandoned them in their time of need. He’s angry and blows up at the easiest target, which is Ethan, who is doing everything he can to keep his mother’s bakery & coffee shop going out of a sense of duty and a bit of guilt. This is all compounded by the dire state of the bakery and the disintegrating relationship with his younger brother. I was afraid this entire story was going to drown in angst and sorrow, but I was pleasantly surprised that that was not in any way, the case. Ethan soon meets Tanner carpenter a former snowboarder champion who is in town to settle a contract for his company and his time there was just enough for him to fall in love with the coffee shop owner...and just enough time to break both their hearts when his time was up, and he had to return home. There are also some other wrinkles thrown into the story...a significant age gap for one and Tanner's other life that he didn't think could ever include Ethan. This isn't a light story but it's only on the heavy side for a short time... just enough time to almost break your heart. I have to admit that I nearly stopped listening to it, but I knew that Jay Hogan has never left her readers with too much emotional baggage, and she didn't this time either. I really liked how everyone got a HEA ending....and a great cup of their special coffee.

Nov 14, 10:48 pm

Libriomancer / Jim C. Hines
3.75 stars

Isaac is a librarian (a cataloguer), and is horrified when a few vampires come into his library and destroy it (and try to destroy him)! Isaac was also once a libriomancer and a Porter. He was banned from using magic a couple of years back, though, by the secret society of Porters. As a libriomancer, he is able to reach into books and pull things out to use in this world.

It seems that vampires have been hunting down Porters and are trying to start a war (or something) with them. But who is controlling them and why is this happening? Can Isaac help find out what’s going on (with the help of Lena, who herself has come out of a book)?

I enjoyed this. I’m not always a fantasy fan, but as a librarian (and cataloguer), I quite enjoyed that part of the book, and the fact that Isaac (and other libriomancers) was/are able to pull things out of books. That’s pretty cool. I really liked Isaac’s pet fire spider (pulled from a book, of course). I was also a bit amused by the bibliography at the end, which included made up titles in the book. I’d have given it 3.5 stars (good), but wanted to give the extra ¼ star for the librarian who loves to research!

Editado: Nov 15, 6:35 am

Watch Her Disappear - Lisa Regan
Josie Quinn Series Book #14
Genera: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
As the story opens, we have the team trying to help plan a honeymoon for Josie and Noah...then a call comes in. A girl has been found dead at a high school prom, and with that, we're headed for a fantastic read. Josie and Noah aren’t so much front and center this time. We get to see Josie interact with Chief Chitwood. Not only are they investigating the current murder, but they’re also looking into the unsolved murder of the Chief’s sister, Kelsey. The unsolved murder on which the Chief’s father, Harlan Chitwood, had been the lead investigator. The question remains...was the Chief’s father a crooked cop? This time, Lisa Regan gives us some fascinating insight into why Chief Chitwood is the way he is. We learn a lot about how his sister’s unsolved murder yet haunts him, and Josie begins to see why he’s always kept her and the other officers at arm’s length. We also see why he is so invested in solving this crime, knowing that doing so might finally bring justice for his sister. You won't believe how may the twists and turns there are here. For more than half of the book of I thought I knew who the killer was. Then my suspect blew up all my theories when he said, “I... nothing happened. Not before, and not this time.” What??? Before?! Not this time?!....and there you have the twist, letting the story bolt off the rails... and all you can do is to just keep on reading. I've always liked this series. Josie is one of my favorite protagonists. She has a tough and sometimes a thankless job, but she never lets it change her. Like all of this series, this one is a thrilling read and another masterful work by Lisa Regan.

Nov 15, 11:22 am

Back Of Beyond – C J Box
Book on CD narrated by Holter Graham

This is the first book in a new series by C J Box, who is perhaps best known for his mystery series starring Joe Pickett.

Cody Hoyt is an alcoholic and a former big-city cop who is barely hanging on to his job as an investigator with the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Department. He’s two months into his latest effort at sobriety when he and his partner come across the remains of Hank Winters, burned in his remote cabin. It seems like a clear case of an accidental fire, exacerbated by the deceased’s drinking. But Cody isn’t buying it. He knows Hank and he knows Hank has been sober for years; then he discovers that a key item familiar only to other alcoholics is missing from Hank’s cabin. Before long he is convinced there is a serial killer at work, but the question is why? One clue points him in the direction of Yellowstone Park and a week-long “back of beyond” adventure outfitter. And Cody about loses it when he realizes that his son is on this same camping trip with his soon-to-be-stepdad. Can he get there in time?

This is a fast-paced thriller with some twists and turns I didn’t see coming. Box moves back and forth from the perspective of Cody and his partner, Larry, to the perspective of the people on the “back of beyond” tour. I particularly liked the way Box wrote Gracie Sullivan; she’s a smart girl, a keen observer, and quick-thinking.

Cody is a seriously flawed person. He likes to operate outside the rules and his drinking is not at all controlled. He is self-destructive with a capital S. But he’s a determined investigator and I like the way he puzzles things out and arrives at his conclusions. He’s got every reason to distrust those around him, as they are bound to distrust him. But in a tight spot, I think I’d want Cody Hoyt in my corner.

Holter Graham does a fine job of narrating the audiobook. He sets a good pace and gives the many characters sufficiently unique voices to allow the listener to discern who is speaking.

Nov 15, 3:28 pm

Desperate Hours: The Epic Rescue of the Andrea Doria
Richard Goldstein
4/5 stars
This is the story of the Andrea Doriaocean liner built in 1951, who was taking passengers on a cruise in 1956 when it was hit by the Swedish ship Stockholm during a dense fog and tells the aftermath of the disaster. Goldstein relates the ship's history, the sinking of the ship and the stories of the passengers on board. The collision killed 51 people—46 from the Andrea Doria and 5 from the Stockholm. Very interesting but sad!

Editado: Nov 16, 6:34 am

The Only Way To Dream - M.A. Innes
The Mechanics of Love Book #3
Narrator: Kenneth Obi
Genera: M/M/M Romance
Cody has a boyfriend, and he has also has a "Daddy" that gets along quiet beautifully together. They both love him to death, even if they haven't used the "L" word yet. All Cody wants is for them to love each other also. Jameson knows that loving Cody means he has to accept Ford in his life as well. He wouldn't want it any other way, but he wasn't expecting the fuzzy, tingly growing feelings that he realizes that he feels developing for Ford. This is certainly something new...isn't it? Where did they come from and just how long have, they been there? He questions if it's a good thing or a bad thing and what it will grow into. Ford never thought he would ever find someone to love and take care of, but now it seems that he not only has one man...he just might have two. What in the Hell is that all about??? He knows that both touch his heart, although in different ways. All he can imagine when looking at them both is that he is starting to picture the three of them as a family...the family that he has forever wanted and longed for. He knows that two men dating the same person is a "horse of a different color" and a whole lot different than THREE men falling in love with each other...can he handle that? Can Jameson and Cody handle that? Would they even want to?? I totally enjoyed finding out how these three guys worked out how to answer these questions and to be together...accept their differences...and most importantly, to love each other while accepting all the different things that made them individuals. Ford was a tower of strength for both of them. Everyone should have their very own Ford. Think I'll see if I can order one from Amazon:) The way he enabled Cody and Jameson to feel that they could have each other and that there was still always a place in their hearts and lives for him too, was priceless. The ending was so good, but it left questions hanging, so hopefully there is going to be more of these three men in future books in the series. I have to know what happens to all of them.

Editado: Nov 17, 7:21 am

Flying Blind - Jodi Payne & BA Tortuga - (New York, Tennessee, California, Colorado)
Wrecked Universe series - Book #2
Genera: M/M Romance, Rodeo Cowboys
The progression of the relationship between January and Hawk started with a meeting in a bar where neither of them really wanted to be. It quickly went from a “one-night stand” to “a sexy weekend fling” to “casually meeting up across the country” to “Hey, what happened? I think we’re dating”, to “I'm pretty sure that we’re in love and all into one another.” The story has lots of highs and one really, really, gigantically big low, but it's also filled with so much heat and spice...along with some stunning and overwhelming reveals and twists. The book is on the long side, almost 500 pages, but I never felt that the story dragged or what I was reading could have easily been left out. It's turned out to be another book that I just didn't want to end. I'm so glad I bought it as I have almost all these two ladies' books, so I can revisit Jan and Hawk whenever I want. It was great to revisit again with Sky and Beck from the "Wrecked" book #1 of the series, that I had just read. B A Tortuga does indeed love her cowboys and portrays them so beautifully. In this one we learned again about the dangers that these riders face every time they compete. I don't see how Hawke could ride at all with his eyesight so rapidly disappearing. I don't know much about the "sport"...is it even considered a sport??, but I guess riding bulls must pay well or else the riders really have a fondness for 8-seconds of rearranging their bones and dirt. From reading the first book in this rodeo romances series, I thought I knew what the "dark" moment of this novel was going to be. However, Jodi Payne and B A Tortuga must have thought that would be too much to put the reader and Hawk through, considering his other hurdles... but I was not prepared for the "dark" moment when it barreled out of left field, even though when thinking back the clues leading up to it were in-your-face obvious. A word of warning...If you have read enough to have learned to love all these characters, it will be brutal when it hits. Have the tissues handy. In spite of all the feelings the "dark moment" produced, it was the perfect catalyst for January and Hawk to finally admit what they want and what will work best of them both as individuals and as a couple...and go for it.

Nov 17, 11:35 am

Barbra Streisand: the Music, the Albums, the Singles
Matt Howe
3/5 stars
This large book details everything that Streisand sang, wrote and her collaborations with other famous musical artists. This was just okay for me. At times it just dragged. I can't recommend it but I am looking forward to reading her new autobiography.

Nov 17, 12:30 pm

Try Not to Breathe - David Bell - (Washington)
Genera: Mystery& Suspense/Thriller
Avery Rogers, the heroine, is a former cop, who came close to getting herself killed, so she makes the decision to walk away. She lands a position at a college as a security guard. She of course feels safer; but her father, who is a former cop and I believe is two bricks short of a full load... constantly taunts her for leaving her job as a police officer. Avery is smart enough to remain distant from her parents, and her two sisters. Then Dad calls her telling her that Anna, her sister, has disappears from campus. Now we meet Anna Rogers, who is also distant from her family, and I bet you can guess why...Anna is fed up with her father, and throws her sister, Avery into the "I can't stand you", hat. Anna lives with a roommate at school, but she has left school to attend a protest against police brutality, unaware that someone is following her. For some reason that is strange to me considering all the hate running through this family, Avery agrees to try to find Anna...oh yeah...seems that Anna's roommate has been murdered, and we are told that Anna is unaware of this. At the Police Brutality protest, Avery sees Anna, and tries to persuade her to leave with her; but a former cop becomes involved, and everything falls apart, as the danger escalates, and people more are injured. A message arrives for Anna, and she goes off to meet someone that is going to tell her some "truths" and secrets about her life and her family. Of course, now Anna and Avery are both endangered. Is anyone at all surprised by this? The story went on and on like this until more than halfway through the book. I can't say that I didn't like the book, it just felt disjointed to me, and I had to keep going back to see if I had misread something and I can't say that I had any connection with, or concern for any of the characters. The chapters are short, which is a plus in this case.

Editado: Nov 18, 11:08 am

Flat Whites & Chocolate Fish - Jay Hogan - (New Zealand)
Southern Lights Series Book #3
Narrator; Gary Furlong
Genera: M/M Romance
We first met Ethan in book 1 of this series Powder and Pavlova. Adrian Powell, one of our main characters in this story is his partner in business and one of his closest friends. He was the mysterious Barista in Ethan’s Mom’s Café. When the café went bankrupt Adrian finally told Ethan and Lucy that he writes children’s books, however his main passion had always been coffee, grounding coffee and coming up with mouth-watering ground coffee beans. Strange passion, but to each his own:) Adrian lives in a cottage without any close neighbors. He likes it that way since he loves peace and quiet. He is a Barista first and then a writer and has been travelling for quite a while before deciding to settle down in one place. He landed in Queenstown, met Ethan’s Mom, helped in her cafe until it closed down and then he finally decided to stay. When he saw the cottage, with a front and center view of Lake Wakatipu, it made him feel at home which is something he hasn’t felt in a long time, if ever! Now comes Niall. He just bought the property next to Adrian’s and he is planning to build a luxury B&B and add a few more cottages or suites for those who want peace and quiet. In other words, he will cater to rich people who want anonymity when they are trying to lay low and willing to pay the price for this out-of-the-way vacation spots. As first meetings go, theirs left a whole lot to be desired. Prickly and arrogant neighbors is not enough to describe them... they almost hate each other. The dynamic that went on when these two people met was way off the wall but seemed that it was what was going to be. They do finally realize that they each might have some saving graces. They took time to learn about one another. Adrian's awful childhood and what he had been forced to do was inconceivable. As a result, it had left him to not trust others and to keep his guard up. Thanks to Adrians cat, the two come to find that they not only like one another...they love one another and will go through fire to protect what they have. Things get worse but they do get better...much, much better. Jay Hogan has once again given us a story that has left me amazed and in love with the characters. I have learned so much from this story, and that includes all the unique and new words. I had no idea what a "flat white" or a "chocolate fish" was, but I was happy to learn. I am always amazed how English can have so many different meanings depending on where you live. I've heard that it's the hardest language for a non-speaker to learn, after Chinese. This series has been one amazing story after another.

Nov 18, 11:27 pm

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents / Terry Pratchett
3 stars

Maurice is a talking cat and has come upon a group of intelligent talking rats. He has vowed not to eat any rat that can talk. They end up working together as they move to a town with the intent of… ok, I’m not exactly sure what their end goal was – money? They were conning people, or planning to. There are two kids who discover them and decide to help when they discover the local rat-catchers were not only catching rats, but behind other bad things, as well.

This was ok. It’s a terrible summary, but there it is. Not as humourous as I remember of the other (few) books I’ve read by Pratchett. I hate footnotes, though, and even more so in fiction, but Pratchett uses them. Luckily, there were not many in this book.

Nov 19, 10:11 am

Family Secrets - Shawn McGuire - (Wisconsin)
Whispering Pines Series Book #1
Genera: Mystery & Suspense
Jayne O'Shea has gone back to Wisconsin to her grandparents' home to put the house on the market. She's unprepared for what she finds when she arrives, as the house has been turned upside down. To make matters worse, there's a body in the backyard... that of a young woman. Jayne had been a cop, so she was smart enough to know how to preserve evidence and protect the crime scene. It always amazes me how with a dead body lying in the yard, how unconcerned the local police often are in these stories. I guess that opens the way for the main character to carry out their own investigation...which will go over like a lead balloon with those same unconcerned police. Being a small town shouldn't automatically...that this is going to be the case, but I'm finding this happening more and more in these genera of books. Jayne sees that the womans body has tats that may indicate an interest or her involvement in Wiccan. About this same time Jayne discovers that her grandmother wasn't home baking cookies all the time...she was also involved in the cult. The little town is filled with strange people with unusual "talents." Some folks evidently can see death coming...some of the younger folks are interested in learning spells...Happy Halloween year-round here:) It's a well written story and the characters are interesting...I just didn't find it particularly believable, but I would be willing to try another by this author.

Nov 19, 2:00 pm

New Tricks - Davidson King
Aces Wild Series Book #10
Genera: M/M Romance/Homophobia
I hated all the homophobia spewed by Embry's parents, but loved how Malcolm and Embry handled it. Other than that, it was actually a beautiful story, even if it was a bit sad. I felt so sorry for Embry. Every aspect of his life had always been controlled by his parents...especially his mother. She has always disapproved of everything that didn't include her or her opinion. You can imagine what happened when he let her know that he was going to marry Malcolm, his long-time boyfriend. To say that it didn't go over well would be the understatement of the year, and she, if anything only became worse. Of course, he was stressed but Malcolm, who was his complete opposite let him know that it just didn't matter, and he was always there for him. After all, for thirteen years, they'd laughed, cried and loved....and that was not going to change for anybody. Five years go by, and Embry is finally invited by his parents for Thanksgiving, but he knew it wasn't going to be good because they were again excluding his Malcolm. Malcome and Embry agreed that this was not going to happen... they were going to soon be married and this was going to be the last chance they were going to give Embry's parents to accept his and Malcom's relationship. Then, on their way to Emby's parents in Florida, the car breaks down. Embry’s stress level is now in overdrive and Malcolm decided he needed some new tricks to help him out...so they stop at Ace’s Wild, while waiting for the car to be repaired. Life started to have new meaning to Embry, and it was time for some major things to shake up. The entire little town was accepting of Malcom and Embry's relationship and since they guys obviously weren't going to Florida since the car needed a part that had to be ordered, they were invited to Thanksgiving dinner by the lady and her husband that owned the little hotel in town. As they sat down for dinner, who should show up unannounced...but Embry's parents. Things went from bad to worse to even much, much worse, as Embry's mother let everyone, complete strangers to her, know...in no uncertain terms, just how she felt about her son and his husband to be. I loved Malcolm. He never let anything that Embry's mother said or thought bother him in the least, nor did he ever say anything derogatory back to her. All he wanted to do was make Embry feel safe and happy. I loved Malcolm that much more for having so much patience and love for his special man that he wasn’t deterred by anything as trivial some homophobe's hate...and strived that much more to help Embry finally realized how free and happy he deserved to be.

Editado: Nov 20, 8:19 am

What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris

The first in the St. Cyr mystery series that takes place just as the Regency period of (future) George IV is being installed.

The book starts from the POV of a young woman who is brutally murdered; the final thought in the prologue is "she knew she'd made a terrible mistake." This thought proves a foundation to who could possibly be the murderer and lends credence to Sebastian St. Cyr as he tries to solve her slaying.

Main characters in the series are introduced: Jarvis, who knows his mind is better than anyone else's; Sebastian St. Cyr; his father, Hendon, holding the office of Exchequer; Kate, an actress who has shared her heart with Sebastian in the past and now; and the landscape of 1811 London with all its class structure and a burgeoning police investigative arm.

One of the more refreshing parts of this book is the main characters' reactions to Rachel. She is an actress whose rooms are paid for by a paramour, and she has a past and a brain that has helped her get away from her past. The characters on her side do not discount her for being an actress and a paid companion in order to earn money; it's the characters who sneer at her who are the dislikable ones in this tapestry.

The mystery is engaging, the characters are well-done, and the ending was quite shocking. Just the perfect thing for foggy London nights!

Nov 19, 9:04 pm

When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon
Digital audiobook performed by Sneha Mahan and Vikas Adam.

This is a cute YA romcom featuring two young Indian-American students who are trying to keep their parents happy while pursuing their own dreams.

Dimple Shah has her own dreams, and they do NOT include allowing her mother to pressure her into an arranged marriage with an “ideal Indian husband.” Still, she’s surprised when her parents agree to pay for her attendance at a summer conference for aspiring web designers.

Rishi Patel is a dutiful son, and a hopeless romantic. He actually welcomes having his parents arrange his romance. So, he is happy to attend the summer program (though he has only a passing interest in web design) because his “future bride” will be there.

Things get off to a rocky start, but their friendship slowly builds to something more … or does it? Told in alternating viewpoints, Menon gives the reader a satisfying and balanced romance.

Sneha Mahan and Vikas Adam take turns narrating the audiobook. They really bring these characters to life. Very effective audio performance.

Nov 20, 7:02 am

The Spare Room - Andrea Bartz - (Pennsylvania /Washington D.C.)
Genera: Mystery & Suspense
I read a description of the book before I started this one, that said it was "a story with lots of sex, but little sense". I have to agree...especially with the "little sense" comment. It starts back right after the pandemic with Kelly Doyle, a woman that was still, 3 years later, still operating with a pandemic-inspired lifestyle that seems to have spiraled into a nightmare. Kelly had moved to Philadelphia to be with her fiancé when his job took him there, and for her, the entire move has been nothing but miserable. She can't find a job. She can't make new friends, and after a big fight, her fiancé now wants to put off their wedding. I thought, "SMART MAN"! When Sabrina Lamont, a school friend that Kelly recently reconnected with on Instagram, invites her to stay in her spare room, Kelly takes off for the Washington D.C. suburbs. Sabrina and her husband, Nathan, live a seemingly glorious life with no money worries or any other type it seems. Sabrina is a bestselling author of erotic thrillers and Nathan is high up at the Department of Defense. They have a beautiful mansion that resembles a perfectly private fortress. As Kelly adjusts to her new life in their guest room, she finds herself moving on and falling in love...with both of her steamy hosts. Just as the two actually open their marriage for her...and I suspect she isn't the first they have done this for...Kelly discovers that their last partner "went missing". I believe you can guess where this is going from here. This could be for Kelly, a sexy new beginning or a really terrible mistake. I usually only get this amount of sex in my M/M romances:) I've read other books by Andrea Bartz so I knew she was well known for her thrillers, and keeping a constant thread of tension going, but was a little surprised by the amount of sex in this one...and not just with Nathan. Seems he and Sabrina were both what used to be known as "swingers". As you can imagine, Kelly ignores every single one of the red flags...and there was a mile of them, in favor of her new and exciting relationship with her hosts. After a while it becomes slightly unbelievable that Kelly was almost willfully waving off the direst of these warnings. Though some plotlines ultimately go nowhere and there are a few too many small twists that will throw you off rather than further pull you in.
Readers looking for steamy sex scenes with their mystery & suspense will have lots to look forward to. There was just too much of almost everything crammed into this story. I'm certainly not opposed to the sex, and I really do like a good mystery...but this one just tried so hard to have so much of both that the whole thing lost its appeal for me in both departments.

Editado: Nov 20, 8:54 am

Undisclosed: Curiosity - Carly Marie - (Tennessee)
Undisclosed series Book #2
Genera: M/M/M Romance/Daddy Little/Puppy Play
Trent is a sheriff and a total Dom with "Daddy" tendencies, though he has never acted on them and isn't sure he wants to or even if he can. It certainly won't be with Trent...who is a cute, playful "puppy"... if he was even to decide to. This almost breaks his heart. He and Trent have been best friends and partners at work for years...and they are also sometimes "hook ups" for one another.... but their needs are too different to work in the long run. I could really feel for Trent and Logan, and they didn't ask me...silly men...but I knew exactly how they could make their relationship work long before either of them did, even after "little" Aiden entered their lives. They had been torturing themselves for years. They love each other and have been besties since high school...but as a lasting couple, they just won't work, no matter how much they wish it would. They live together and they know that they want to stay together but something is missing, and they are beginning to mourn their love for one another and are starting to believe that one of them has to leave. Then adorable "little" Aiden enters their lives. Logan has been Aiden's friend and protector for a long time... but when Logan needs a protector Trent is there to take care of them both. Open your eyes guys! It takes a bit before Trent gets with the program but once he does, he grabs hold and doesn’t let go. These three men are so great together and I did so enjoy watching their all-consuming love for two to turn into love for three. Of those three, I absolutely loved Logan. He was so ready to let Trent go in order for him be happy even though it would have destroyed him. That was absolute, unconditional love and I was entirely in. It was a kind of torture waiting for the three characters to get to the point of understanding what a poly relationship was and that it absolutely could and would work for them. From that point on everything was simply amazing. They should have asked me to begin with:) Oh...and you will not want to miss the birthday cake fiasco between Trent and Aiden.

Editado: Nov 20, 5:17 pm

When Two Feathers Fell From the Sky – Margaret Verble

1920s Tennessee is the setting for this novel. Two Feathers (her stage name) is a Native American horsewoman who, determined to make her own way in the world, left her family’s Oklahoma ranch to join a Wild West show. Now she’s at the Glendale Park and Zoo in Nashville, performing twice a day as a horse diver. Her best friend at Glendale is Hank Crawford, a black man who tends the horses. When unexplained events begin occurring, Clive, the chief zookeeper, becomes involved. He is a veteran of World War I warfare and is haunted (literally and figuratively) by his experiences in the trenches.

What interesting characters! Verble weaves through elements of history not often covered in school from ancient bison tracks, to the forced expulsion of the Cherokee (Trail of Tears), to Jim Crow, to the desecration of ancient burial grounds, and to the effects of PTSD. She deftly incorporates magical realism, especially by using the ghost of Little Elk, a long-deceased warrior who longs to communicate with Two Feathers.

I was captivated by this unique story. All these characters had interesting journeys of self discovery, which required they to use intelligence, courage and perseverance. I absolutely loved Little Elk and cheered at his increasingly successful efforts to make his presence known. Two Feathers is a remarkable young woman – fiercely determined, intelligent, observant, loyal, resilient. Her personal journey is every bit as fascinating as Little Elk’s.

Nov 21, 6:48 am

Secrets From The Past - Jenny Elaine
Shady Pines Mystery Series - Book #1
Genera: Mystery & Suspense
Say hello to Misty Raven. She has no family or home, but she loves old houses, and her mission is to restore them to their former glory. When she starts restoring an old house in a small town the last thing, she thought she'd find is a dead body. She's not willing to leave with the work only half finished, so true to most book heroines, she starts looking into the history of the house. of course, we know that this would never happen in real life but between the covers of a book anything is possible, so we have our mystery solving heroine in Misty Raven. (Love her name:) As we would also suspect...someone doesn’t want her discovering anything. Anyone that likes a good mystery or likes cozy mysteries will love this book. There's no heavy blood and guts...just an old dead body and a young woman determined to find out how she became dead in this house. I prefer a bit more "blood and guts" in my mysteries, but I really liked Misty, I love old houses...isn't the one on the cover of this book beautiful? So, I gave these one 5 well-earned stars.

Nov 21, 8:55 am

The Little Princesses – Marion Crawford

Subtitle: The Story of the Queen’s Childhood by Her Nanny, Marion Crawford
The subtitle is all the synopsis anyone needs.

I had the 2002 reprint edition with a forward by Jennie Bond, former BBC royal correspondent. She comments about how this reminiscence of two little girls growing up together ultimately resulted in Crawford’s complete banishment from the royal family. She had to leave the “grace and favor” cottage she had been given “for her lifetime” upon her retirement from service. Neither the Queen Mother, nor either of the Princesses (later Queen Elizabeth II) ever spoke to “Crawfie” again.

And yet there is nothing at all salacious about this memoir. Perhaps the most “shocking” revelation is that the two girls behaved like any other siblings: “Neither was above taking a whack at her adversary, if roused, and Lilibet was quick with her left hook!”

I really enjoyed the glimpse into a world I will never experience. Crawford covers the events that took place during the sixteen years she served the family; from her arrival at the Duke’s household (no hint that he would one day be King, and his eldest daughter the Queen), through the abdication of “Uncle David,” to the war years, to Lilibet’s marriage to Prince Philip, and the birth of their son, Charles.

The book was published in 1950, two years before Lilibet would assume the throne following her father’s death. By today’s standards it is hardly scandalous but it was a sensation when it was published.

Nov 21, 10:36 am

Soft Place To Fall - BA Tortuga - (New Mexico)
Narrator: John Solo
Genera: M/M Romance/Rodeo Cowboy
I’ll admit that anything that BA Tortuga & her writing partner, Jodi Payne put their names on are 100% Okay with me right from the start...no questions asked. BA sure does love her cowboys, and while I'll also admit I usually am not a fan of cowboy or western stories, BA has made me a fan of her sweet rodeo men. Curtis and Stetson are her two cowboys in this one and, Yep...I was in love after the first chapter. Stetson only knows how to love one way…hard and without end. He has never stopped loving Curtis, but he knew that the man’s heart and his need to be free and on the rodeo circuit, would never let them be together. But as soon as he heard Stetson’s voice on the phone, Curtis knew he’d do whatever it took, whatever he wanted in order to help him, even if it meant breaking his own heart again. Love was never the issue between them, but figuring out how to communicate sure was. That caused them more problems than they could count on both hands. My heart literally ached for Stetson. While Curtis was on the circuit, Stetson remained at home because he loved the land and knew that it was where he belonged. He worked hard to keep things going and gave up everything, including the only man he'd ever love...Curtis. Curtis used to feel like being tied to one place was like being trapped, but life without Stetson has him rethinking the way he has lived his life. Their love for each other almost bleeds out of them and I became beyond frustrated when the communications kept breaking down and they ended up at odds...again. I just wanted to shake them both. Fortunately for them and me and the book...I didn't have to. Ms. Tortuga got them sorted out just fine. The acceptance that both men found made me smile at last, and I was so glad that homophobia from the people was never one of the issues they ever had to deal with. You will cheer for these two men and be swept up in their story and occasionally even shed a few tears. Stetson had a unique kind of bravery he showed as he was taking care of his dying mother and of Curtis as well. Thank you, Ms. Tortuga, for another wonderful, warm story where the characters actually talked things out and didn’t rely solely on sex to fix everything. What sex there was, was beautiful by the way:) I love this author's work and I’ve never been let down by her or Jodi Payne.

Nov 22, 8:41 am

Frozen Statues - L.E. Fraser - (Canada)
Perdition Games Series Book #4
Genera: Mystery & Suspense
In this, the 4th book in the series, two private investigators tangle with their own tortured pasts while hunting a serial killer. Toronto investigator, Samantha McNamara and Reece Hash are engaged. Reece has decided to finish law school, which has left him feeling overextended and short-tempered. When they decide to hire help for their firm, only one candidate shows up, a young man named Elijah Watson. Sam immediately distrusts him...he has stiff movements and stilted speech, and old but odd cigarette burns on his wrist. Nevertheless, I thought the reason for hiring, him since she distrusted him to start with was a bit off. Seems it was based solely on Eli's ability to fix Reece’s malfunctioning computer, so...believe it or not... they hire him. Though Sam and Reece continue to not really mesh emotionally, she preoccupies herself with a new case of ritualistic murder in which a University of Toronto freshman’s corpse was posed naked like a statue and his eyes were replaced with black stones. This coincides with another disappearance of another college student, Bart Walsh, who is the brother of Margaret, the firm’s intern. Margaret says that Bart’s new girlfriend, Angelina “Angel” Stuart, is a rude, manipulative wild child with a questionable past. Making matters worse is the serial killer...Incubus, whom Sam helped catch and place in the Millhaven Institute, has been writing her flattering letters to play games with her head and bring friction to Sam and Reece’s already strained relationship. In her latest outing with the two private eyes, Fraser pays homage to Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter by making Incubus learned, slimy, and dangerous even behind bars. She fuels the plot with increasingly sadistic secrets, one of which props up the tension between Sam and Reece (“ignoring her was his new modus operandi, along with his grumpy demeanor and argumentative attitude. Careful details about the murders, like the staging of victims during foul weather to ruin forensic evidence, are impressively geeky. And Fraser doesn’t let fans down during grisly flashbacks, as a warehouse fire leaves Incubus with “strands of charred hair” drooping “across one wide blue eye that stares sightless from bubbling flesh.” Okay...I know this is book #4 and I should, maybe have started with #1...but I just didn't get this entire scenario. The rating in no way reflects the authors writing ability, but it very much reflects my understanding of these characters.

Nov 22, 12:23 pm

Secrets, Undisclosed - Carly Marie - (Tennessee)
Undisclosed series Book #4
Genera: M/M Romance/Daddy,little
I'm glad I bought this series so that it doesn't have to end for me. I can reread to my heart's content and believe me I plan to. I've patiently waited for Larson to get his HEA story and to find the perfect "Daddy" for his "little" side. Larson has always been told that he was "too big to be "little". Larson is a 6' 5' 250lb, firefighter at his real job, but a talented woodcarver on his hobby and "dream" job. He's content to go to the club, DASH, on "little" night under the protection of his brother, Zander. He takes his stuffie groundhog and his binkie, listens to a story, and plays with his other "little" friends. He's come to accept that this is the best that life will ever be for him as far as his kink life is concerned...then Canyon comes home to Nashville...and suddenly, things get much better for Larson. Canyon was the CEO of a company he started when he left Nashville for California, 20 odd years ago. Now he's come home to stay and is looking for a hobby. He thinks that woodworking is what he would really like to learn, and a restaurant owner in town tells him about Larson's hobby, and he decides to see if Larson would be able to help him. Larson's Dad has known Canyon from his previous time in Nashville and his having been a member of DASH the club he owns...so when they needed help on "little" night he asks Canyon to help out. You can imagine Canyon's surprise when he goes to meet Larson and discovers that he is face to face with the "little" that he first saw and was attracted to at the club DASH. From there it is just one sweet story as these two begin to get to know one another and fall in love. I loved how honest they were and how things just all came so naturally. If you start this series, you will meet all of Larson's friends as well as his big family, the Johnson's, who have a series of their own. It was wonderful to see 'little" Larson finally find his perfect someone, who has a few secrets of his own, and get everything that he so deserved.

Nov 22, 10:47 pm

Up Ghost River / Edmund Metatawabin
4 stars

8-year old Indigenous boy, Edmund, was forced to go to a residential school in Northern Ontario in the 1950s and ‘60s. He didn’t want to go but his mother insisted. His mother was very Catholic and trusted that they would take good care of him. Of course, while at St. Anne’s school, the nuns and priests were abusive to him and others. I was going to mention some of the abuses, but I’ve decided not to; a couple of things were not things I’d heard previously. And for Ed, it got worse after he left for high school in a bigger city.

He did marry and have children, and get a university degree, but he also became an alcoholic. In this memoir, Ed details all of this and more.

As mentioned in my summary, despite having read quite a bit about residential schools, there were still a couple of surprising things (not good surprising). Of course, when he finished school, he had issues (the alcoholism), but it was good to see how he got himself better and is doing good to help others, as well. I thought this was really good.

Nov 23, 7:11 am

To Not Fall For My Doc - Gianni Holmes
The Simple Rules Series Book #1
Narrator: Iggy Toma
Genera: M/M Romance
Austin Villiers can’t believe that, not only was he dumped, but that Bryce, (which I hated just on general principals), had been with him only to use him to get recognition, popularity points, and praise for sticking with him throughout his cancer and treatments. Now he realizes it’s for the best that they never consummated their seven-year relationship. Something never felt totally right and now he knew why. Do you think!!!? When his long-time oncologist, Dr. Malcolm Greer, questions Austin he breaks down and tells him the whole sad, Bryce story. Austin soon realizes it was really always Dr. Greer that he'd fallen head over heels for and proceeds to pursue him endlessly. Malcolm resists for a short time, after all he knew what could happen to his career if he should ever give in to his own secret desires for Austin...his patient. I understand there being rules in place to protect vulnerable patients and doctors alike... but when two people are meant for each other and they follow all the proper protocol... Malcolm had already turned Austin’s care over to a fellow colleague...so he was no longer his doctor and should have been free to follow his heart. Then there was Austin's Mom, who he still lived with. What would she think? Austin is 23 years old, so I thought "Who gives a rip?" Austin & Malcolm haven’t broken any of the "forbidden" rules. You can’t control who you fall in love with or where you meet them...and they did follow the proper channels. Malcolm’s peers & colleagues were overbearing and judgmental as soon as they found out and I spent some time hating them also but since his job wasn’t in jeopardy at the Cancer Center, I figured hating was a waste of reading time and the ending wasn't going to change. Then there was the dying old man at the center that Austin visited regularly even though the old guy's family seemed to have some long-held grudge and only visited him to have him change his will. Austin and Malcom attended his funeral, but the family was unwelcoming thinking that Austin had only paid him attention hoping to inherit something. We never did find out what that deal was with them. Good things were in the picture for both Malcom & Austin as well as Austin's Mom, who I didn't have to spend time hating:)... so I guess all's well that ends well...but I just felt that a lot was left unexplained.

Nov 23, 1:48 pm

The Last Party - Clare Mackintosh - (Wales)
D.C. Morgan Series Book #1
Genera: Mystery & Suspense
Rhys Lloyd’s dead body has been discovered during the traditional New Year’s polar swim in the village of Cwm Coed, (don't waste your time even trying to pronounce any of the names in this one), we quickly learn that there is no lack of suspects since a lot of people wanted to see him dead. As the owner of The Shore, a new resort community, Rhys was a larger-than-life figure and not very well thought of despite having grown up in the village. The lake and the new mansions sit right on the border between England and Wales, and we quickly learn about the unsettled history between these two countries. Police officers from both countries are assigned to the case. The investigators who must somehow work together, are Ffion Morgan who is a local girl that is trying to live down her "history" as “Ffion Wyllt” (Wild Ffion) and recover a balance to her life after a divorce, and Leo Brady who is haunted by a decision he made that might still cost him joint custody of his young son. To further complicate things; neither are exactly strangers to one another, having spent one night together that was never supposed to mean more than that. Ffion and Leo must now put aside their own tensions...both sexual and otherwise...as well as working around the historic tension that yet exists between their two countries, coupled with the extreme hierarchy of the social class as it pertains to both their wealthy victim and their suspects. The author has offered multiple perspectives as the chapters go from New Year's Day and slide back into the past. As with most well-done mysteries, the identity of the murderer, is usually revealed after we are thrown a few red herrings that all seem perfectly logical at the time. I found, that along with the unpronounceable names, the movement back and forth through timelines and perspectives was sometimes jarring and made the book a very slow read. If you can stick with it, you will find that the mystery, as well as the relationships of the characters and the side plots will offers a deep acceptance of human fragility and complexity. You will be glad that you stayed to cheer them on.

Editado: Nov 24, 7:02 am

Graveyard Shift - Jenn Burke - (Canada)
Not Dead Yet Series Book #3
Genera: M/M Romance/Paranormal
Godhood wasn’t easy.... just ask Wes Cooper. It was something that may have possibly fathomed when he achieved his mostly "dead/slightly alive" status decades ago...but now it’s a reality he’s forced to confront. He also might have a sight problem achieving that exhaled godhood because of his past failure to do so might mean the difference between life and death...in the most literal sense. He's not alone, which becomes a critical factor in the eleventh hour of this story. An unexpected visit from Hudson’s niece Priya seems innocent enough on the surface, but it awakens something in Hud, namely how much he regrets losing a connection to his brother. The one positive effect of her arrival is that it makes Hud see his place within the family he and Wes have built around themselves. Priya’s presence soon invites trouble to their doorstep, and the enigma that she becomes when she runs away as suddenly as she arrived. Hud and Wes are then faced with the mystery of how and why she came in the first place, which prompts Wes, once he discovers her secret, to make a decision that had the potential to backfire spectacularly if it’d come to fruition. Jenn Burke puts Hud through many things in this final installment of the series. The tension throughout the book from various sources is targeted and on the mark. Dangerous interlopers abound, both from Hud’s past and Priya’s presence, which causes nothing but grief and chaos. Something Burke certainly can dish out is her expertise of a storyteller who not only knows her readers but how much we’ve come to love these characters. The mysteries and threatening elements in this novel arrive from several angles, the primary target being Toronto’s shifter population. The vamps created for the sole purpose of shifter genocide is a statement in itself, but Priya’s involvement in a crime with an unexpected and wholly unwelcome element invites nothing but additional chaos creating unexpected life altering changes for Wes, as well as unexpected and untimely, and significant developments which will factor into his and Hud’s future and his understanding of his place within their made family. Another life altering factor concerned Wes and his finally naming and claiming the "God" who rides shotgun on his soul. It was a powerful moment, one that made me cheer, which made possible those heart-melting moments at the end. Jenn Burke has delivered in one book...romance, suspense, danger, and strange and unusual characters. As one book continues into the next...these three books in the Not Dead Yet series, should be read in order.

Nov 24, 9:58 am

Yule Be Dead – Lorraine Bartlett with Gayle Leeson

Book number five in the Victoria Square cozy mystery series. Katie Bonner is finally making a go of the business her late husband started, but it was HIS dream, not hers. Her friendship with retired cop Ray Davenport is steady and her relationship with Andy is suffering from lack of attention. The mystery focuses on the death of Vonne Barnett, the daughter of Afternoon Tea owner Francine. Katie is at the tea shop when the deputy informs Francine that her daughter died in an auto accident, but it soon comes out that the accident was staged and that Vonne’s death was the result of blunt force trauma. Of course, Katie has to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Usually in a cozy you have an amateur sleuth who is somehow implicated (or has a close friend who is implicated) in the murder, and therefore feels compelled to investigate despite repeated warnings from the police to stay out of it. Here there is apparently no police investigation at all. At least not on the pages of the book. I have no idea why Katie feels compelled to stick her nose into the mess.

And then there is all the drama of her mother-in-law’s sudden visit, Katie’s indecision regarding buying the tea shop, and the apparently vying suitors for Katie’s affection. There are all sorts of sidebars that add nothing to the main story and do little to engage the reader. (I really didn’t care about the shoplifter or the ballerinas or Seth’s new boyfriend.) . Also, not at all interested in the “crafty artisans” of Katie’s business. Art made from dryer lint? Really?

I kept turning pages, and I did finish it (needed a “y” in a spelling challenge …), and I realized that I previously read another book in this series, but never started at the beginning. In any event, I’m not likely to continue this series. I like the author’s Booktown Mysteries (written under pen name Lorna Barrett) better.

Nov 24, 10:31 am

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane – Lisa See
Book on CD narrated by Ruthie Ann Miles and Kamiko Green

This work of historical fiction focuses on the indigenous Akha people who make their living harvesting tea in the mountains near the borders with Laos and Myanmar. Li-yan is a young girl who follows her family tradition, but dreams of more. She is encouraged by her teacher who recognizes her intelligence, but she is soon derailed by love.

Lisa See has crafted a marvelous story of perseverance, cultural difference, and the enduring bonds of the mother-daughter relationship! Li-yan and her A-ma (mother) are wonderful characters. It’s interesting to watch the push/pull as Li-yan asserts her independence, and to see how, as she matures, she comes to appreciate (and even adopt) the traditions her mother holds so dear and against which Li-yan fought.

I also really liked the way See dealt with the drive towards capitalism that many of the Chinese embraced, not always with the desired result. Li-yan had to learn some hard lessons about real worth vs monetary reward.

There is a dual storyline, with an adopted Chinese child being raised by white Americans. Her journey of discovery and find a way to embrace both her American upbringing and her traditional culture was enlightening to me. I have friends who have adopted a Chinese girl, and they have taken a “heritage roots tour” to help her discover where she comes from. I could not help but wonder what she would make of this story.

The audiobook is well performed by two talented voice artists: Ruthie Ann Miles and Kamiko Green. I’m not sure who voices which character, but both are equally good and effective at bringing the characters to life.

Nov 25, 8:14 am

Nemesis – Agatha Christie
Digital audiobook read by Emilia Fox

From the book jacket: In utter disbelief, Miss Marple read the letter addressed to her from the recently deceased Mr Rafiel – an acquaintance she had met briefly on her travels. He had left instructions for her to investigate a crime after his death. The only problem was, had failed to tell her who was involved or where and when the crime had been committed. It was most intriguing. Soon, she is faced with a new crime – the ultimate crime – murder. It seems someone is adamant that past evils remain buried….

My reactions
Miss Marple is up to her usual tricks. She is a keen observer and an astute judge of character. She fully understands that people underestimate her – or even completely ignore her. She is only an old woman, after all. HA!

I have to admit that my mind wandered on this one. I just wasn’t keeping up with Miss Marple in following the clues, I guess. But not to fear. As is typical with these books, she will sit down and explain it all – in detail – to the detectives, suspects, and other interested parties.

Emilia Fox does a good job of narrating the audiobook. She sets a good pace and I like the way she interprets Miss Marple. My lack of attention was not due to any lack of skill as a narrator.

Nov 25, 8:50 am

Bring Me Home - Annabeth Albert - (Oregon)
Safe Harbor Series Book #1
Genera: M/M Romance
Monroe recently retired from the Navy’s NCIS unit and returned to Safe Harbor, Oregon to renovate and put up for sale the large Victorian home that his Great-Aunt Henri has left to him. He spent his final years of high school living with her and has a close group of friends that have welcomed him home. Included in that group was his best friend, Rob, who is now Chief of Police and using his skills to look over some of the town’s cold cases, especially the one that involves the death of his good friend, Worth’s parents, the Stapleton’s. Something always felt a bit off that it was Worth’s dad that it was always thought to have caused the disappearance of his mom...and his own death of a massive heart attack had raised some questions also. Rob's son, Knox, is back in town but with Rob's 3-year-old triplet daughters and a new baby expected very soon, there wasn't room for Knox to stay with them. The obvious solution was that since Monroe needed major help fixing up his Aunt Henri's house and Knox needed a place to stay...plus Knox was experienced in renovating... a win/win in Rob’s mind. So, it turns out that the very sexy younger man that Monroe had danced with and kissed at the bachelor party in Portland...who called himself "Rebound", became his new roommate and was his friend Rob's son... Knox. They were both incredibly attracted to one another, and it didn't take long for them to begin to act on it and fall in love...but when and what were they going to tell Rob? I guess I don't understand why a 23-year-old adult would need to worry so much about this. Rob already had Knox's life way too planned out without consulting him. Monroe and Knox didn't need anyone to second guess how they felt for one another, and age certainly wasn’t a factor for them...love had already snuck into their hearts and firmly stuck. Annabeth Albert was one of the authors that aided in advancing my love for the M/M Romance genera. I am always eager for a new Annabeth Albert book because she is such an incredibly talented author. I hope that there is soon going to be more of this series. I know that each story will revolve around a different couple, but I hope that Monroe and Knox, as well as Holden and Sam, will always have a major role in what happens.

Nov 25, 12:00 pm

Artistic Appeal - Andrew Grey - (Pennsylvania)
Narrator: John Solo
Art Series Book #2
Genera: M/M Romance
I have read and absolutely enjoyed everything that has been published in the last decade authored by Andrew Grey. I am always so impressed how he allows his characters to always come out ahead no matter how they may start out. I receive his newsletter every month and I can see that he writes the same love and devotion into his novels that is so evident in his letters and that he obviously shares with his husband in real life. Artistic Appeal is the second in the Art series, but it can easily be enjoyed as a standalone. The story is centered around the relationship between Nicolai, who is deaf, and Brain, who is divorced with a daughter. A court case is also happening that Brain is in charge of in his profession as a lawyer and as the title might suggest, is about the paintings that his friends are taking legal action to get back after they were taken by the Nazis. I read another reviewer that mentioned that the story somewhat made them think of the plot of another...but I didn't see it if it was there, I have to say that the positives far outweighed any negatives others may have seen. I have always admired this author's dedication to portraying characters with disabilities in nothing but a positive way. Nicolai was a wonderful, believable character. He is so full of depth and interest...and his actions with Brain’s daughter was beautifully shown, as was his relationship with Brian. They had their obstacles, but that makes them all the more lifelike and not just words on a page. John Solo is one of my favorite readers...so I got a double treat...a favorite author and a favorite narrator.

Nov 25, 5:14 pm

Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson
246 p. - ★ ★ ★ ★

Most people associate Shirley Jackson with horror. I, having first read her stories about her family, associate her with humor. As a kid - maybe age eleven or twelve - read "Charles" in a literature textbook my mom had lying around the house. Then I read more in her copy of The Family Book of Humor. I adored reading about Laurie, Jannie and Sally (with Barry arriving at the end of this book.) Jackson's chatty humor about her family's antics made me laugh.

Now - many years later - it still makes me laugh. Maybe not quite as much as it used to, as I have read that her children (now adults older than I or around my age) wished she would have respected their privacy a little more. I do understand that, although I hope she used a lot of poetic license and exaggeration. Still, a good read, and one I happily revisited.

Nov 27, 8:02 am

Hushabye - Celina Grace - (England)
Kate Redman Mystery Series Book #1
Genera: Mystery & Suspense
It's the story of a murder and a missing baby. The Fullman's were sleeping when someone kidnapped their baby and murdered the nanny. DS Kate Redman was assigned the case and started investigating...but she had no idea how intricate it was going to be. The book has lots of characters to keep up with. The storylines were also numerous, and the motives were a bit too ambiguous. The background story of Kate, our protagonist, is crucial to this entire plot. It was the one thing that lets us truly understand Kate...which when reading descriptions for other books in this series, is important, as Kate is the "star" character in all of them. I thought that DS Kate Redman was a bit too judgmental of the people that she had only just met. I know that this is what we all do as human beings, but it can cloud the judgement and cause evidence to be overlooked in a police officer that is too quick to judge and accuse. Kate also worked off of too many of her personal "hunches".... how she is feeling, what she gathers from someone’s facial expressions... that's certainly okay to take notice of and mentally store away...but not to immediately assume anything. Some of the characters were just left hanging in the wind with no explanations at the end. With so many of them being suspected, their paths could/should have been much more intricate and connected. In the end, it feels like most of them held no significance at all...just added to the word count and could’ve been omitted long before. When the plot started to follow a different character's perspective, it became quite confusing since we never found out much of anything about him. I wasn't particularly satisfied with the ending either. A lot of questions were left unanswered, and the story ended abruptly and became very predictable. One thing the book did do well was developing DS Kate Redman as a likeable, capable, character encouraging readers to perhaps continue the series. I gave the book 3 stars... It was the first book in the series, the character of Kate Redman had likeable qualities...but I'm not sure I will be visiting with her again.

Nov 27, 11:48 am

Iceman: My Fighting Life
Chuck Liddell
This is the autobiography of Chuck Liddell who is a mixed martial artist. I am not a big sports fan but I learned a lot about wrestling and being a mixed martial artist! I thought this was very interesting!

Nov 27, 4:24 pm

Shadow Prey – John Sandford
Digital audiobook performed by Richard Ferrone.
2.5** (rounded up)

From the book jacket: A war of wits between the street-smart sleuth and a warrior-assassin from an ancient. A slumlord and a welfare supervisor butchered in Minnesapolis ... a rising political star executed in Manhattan … an influential judge taken in Oklahoma City. All the homicides have the same grisly method – the victim’s throat is slashed with an Indian ceremonial knife – and in every case the trail leads back through the Minnesota Native American community.

My reactions:
Book number two in the Lucas Davenport series went a bit off the rails. My audiobook included an interview with the author where he explains that he had wanted to include some current “social justice” issues. Sandford admits in the interview that he wound up rather sidetracked from the main thriller and so abandoned his first effort and rewrote like mad. In my estimation, he was only partly successful.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy many a book with a social justice message. I want to learn about the ugly truths, even when it makes me uncomfortable. But that’s not the reason I read mysteries or thrillers. And that’s a problem with this book. I felt that the message frequently detracted from the forward momentum of the basic thriller plot. The result: neither the social justice message NOR the thriller were fully satisfying. Clearly not Sanford’s best effort.

Richard Ferrone does a marvelous job narrating the audiobook. He keeps a good pace and has an ability to differentiate the characters sufficiently so there is never any confusion about who is speaking.

Nov 27, 6:58 pm

Christmas in Calico by Jack Curtis
187 p. - ★ ★ ★ ★

This is a delightful holiday reread. Sort of an "Ebeneezer Scrouge meets the Old West," the story centers on young pregnant widow Rose Cameron, her sick 8-year-old son Tommy, and drifter-with-a-heart-of-gold Joel Reece. The Nevada drought has forced Rose and her late husband to borrow from the bank. When her husband died, her neighbors helped themselves to her livestock and each is hoping to acquire her land when she pulls up stakes. Rose leaves her home in the hands of drifter Reece when she takes Tommy into nearby Calico seeking help from the doctor. Denied lodging and food because she cannot pay, Rose stumbles into Calico's back alleys, where she is met with kindness and help. Meanwhile, Reece does what he can to help save Rose's ranch - including getting her flock of turkeys ready for sale.

A satisfying read with some moral lessons thrown in. Rose's neighbors are shamed by their wives to deal honestly with her, Joel is the hero on a black horse, and the greedy banker learns a valuable lesson which serves Calico well.

Nov 27, 10:48 pm

Paper and Fire / Rachel Caine
2 stars

Can’t really give a summary, as I skimmed this book. Something about the Library of Alexandria, I think. And automata (is the plural not automatons?). Shouldn’t have bothered reading it at all. I vaguely recall not being excited about the first book, so I had to check my review. Sounds like I didn’t like the story (may not have followed that story, either), but apparently I liked the characters so decided to try the next one. Shouldn’t have bothered. Nothing interested me in this.

Nov 27, 11:03 pm

Carve the Mark / Veronica Roth
2.5 stars

I listened to the audio so spellings of names may be off: Akos and Cyra (Sirah, or likely any other number of spellings) are the main characters. They are in space, not sure if they live on different planets, maybe? They spend some time on a spaceship. Cyra’s world is quite violent, but Akos’ isn’t. Somehow they meet. Cyra and her brother are not getting along (can’t recall his name, but starts with an R); he seems to be a king or some kind of leader of his world.

This one got my interest (a little bit) about half way through, but even so, it’s fantasy, so names, places, hard to understand or remember. I don’t like trying to learn different fantastical worlds (it takes way too long to get to the story as one tries to puzzle out all those weird names). Oh, yeah, I hated that they referred to ages by various numbers of “seasons” – when I hear “season”, I think four seasons in a year, so divide that number by 4 and you’ve got years (but then, maybe this isn’t the case on the planets these kids live on). I don’t think that’s what the author meant (four seasons in a year), but it bothered me. The book did get the extra ½ star for catching my attention at least through some/part/more of the second half.

Nov 28, 10:27 pm

The Innocent – Harlan Coben
Book on CD performed by Scott Brick

Matt Hunter made a major mistake when he tried to break up a fight. A man wound up dead, and Matt was convicted of murder. Now he’s an ex-con, but working in his brother’s law firm as a paralegal. Married and starting a family with his wife, Olivia, they’re about to buy a house and things are looking up. And then things go south. Matt notices a man tailing him, then he gets a disturbing photo from his wife’s cell phone. He hires a private investigator to find out who the man is, but he turns up dead – murdered. Now police, both local and federal, are looking at Matt, a former con with one murder already on his record.

Coben knows how to craft a fast-paced thriller that kept me turning pages (or changing CDs). However … I found this plot way too convoluted. I get that the author is trying to keep the reader off guard as much as the characters, but I was losing interest because nothing was coming together. I’m glad I persevered, however, because about half-way through I found I just could not put this down.

I liked Matt as a character; he’s a stand-up guy, smart and resourceful. His inability to trust people around him is understandable. And I really liked homicide investigator Loren Muse; a childhood friend of Matt’s, she’s skeptical of the pattern emerging and keeps digging until she finds the real culprits. Olivia? I couldn’t stand her. Matt deserves better.

Scott Brick is a very talented voice artist. I really liked the way he narrated the audio. Though I read at least a third of this in text format, I’m bumping up the rating by a half star on the strength of Brick’s performance.

Nov 28, 10:34 pm

Kids on a Case: Hunting Black Dragon / Tony Peters
3 stars

This is book 2 in the “Kids on a Case” series. When Daniel comes to Tyler, the “ringleader” of the group of kids (around 13 years old?) who once solved a kidnapping case, looking for help, Tyler can’t say no to his friend. Daniel’s dad has been kidnapped and Daniel is scared to go to the police because he and his mom were threatened not to. However, Tyler was warned last time that he should bring anything to the police that he knows about, so he and his group of kid sleuths do just that. The police, after getting permission from the kids’ parents (supposedly), have Tyler and his friends help them with this case. They know it’s the dangerous gang, the Black Dragons, behind the kidnapping.

It was ok. Although Tyler is the “I” in the story, much of it follows other characters, as well. I might have enjoyed it a bit more if I had had it in a better format (pdf can be read on a Kobo, but it’s awkward). Obviously not even close to realistic, though.

Nov 29, 9:01 am

Blackwater Falls - Ausma Zehanat Khan - (Colorado)
Genera: Mystery & Suspense
Blackwater Falls Series Book #1
Possible Triggers: Extreme Violence
It seemed that almost the entire population of this small mountain town was Xenophobic and raciest. Not a place that anyone that didn't look like them and think like them was welcome in any way, shape or form. Needless to say, that tension was always high thanks to the evangelical, anti-immigrant Resurrection Church, and the motorcycle-riding vigilantes that called themselves "The Disciples". Members of several minority groups had filed multiple but useless complaints against the church...but thanks to its "Resurrection Church supporter, Sheriff Addison Grant and his like-minded deputies, they went into "file 13" never to be seen again or acted on in the first place. When the corpse of 16-year-old Syrian refugee, Razan Elkader is found stripped of her hijab and nailed to the door of her local mosque in a “gruesome representation of the crucifixion, the Denver Police Department’s Community Response Unit takes over the investigation. Led by Lt. Waqas Seif, the CRU’s mandate is to provide accountability and transparency to overpoliced communities. Seif taps Det. Inaya Rahman to head locally though she, her parents, and her younger sisters only moved to the area six months ago, and they worship at the Blackwater Mosque. Inaya has had prior experience working homicide with success. With the help from Det. Catalina Hernandez and civil rights attorney Areesha Adams, Inaya probes Razan’s murder while searching for two missing Somali girls whom Grant previously dismissed as runaways. Lots of immigrants mysteriously "disappear" from this town. Seif pushes back on efforts to implicate Grant, prompting Inaya to question his allegiance. The author's third-person narrative tells the story mostly from Inaya’s perspective, showing the difficult details of her struggles to fairly combine her faith with the realities of her law enforcement career. Occasional chapters from Seif’s point of view add context and help to heighten the tension. The mystery is very convoluted, and the characters are rampant with stereotypes. All that seems to lessen the tale’s impact that the author was obviously striving so diligently for...but Inaya's character is completely wonderful, complex, and compassionate. I believe that it will maybe be nearly impossible for readers, including myself, that have never experienced the prejudices and challenges that some people of different nationalities and religions have been subjected to will completely understand what the author is trying to show with this story...but they will see that those things are alive and thieving where we least expect them.

Ontem, 10:49 pm

Across the River and Into the Trees – Ernest Hemingway

At the end of WW2, a middle-aged American colonel meets a young Contessa in Venice. He spends his days reminiscing about the war, duck hunting, drinking and dining with the young lovely. He knows he’s dying, but she gives him one last season of love.

This is so typically Hemingway! I read The Old Man and the Sea when I was in eighth grade, and I’ve been a fan of his writing since.

This isn’t his best-known work, and I read it only to fulfill a challenge to read a book that was a bestseller the year I was born. Still, there is something about his writing that captures my attention. The short declarative sentences make the work immediate and bring this reader right into the story.

But the older I get the more I’m disturbed by the way the women are portrayed … or more accurately, but the way Hemmingway writes the male/female relationships. Knowing his own history of depression (and ultimate suicide), not to mention his four wives, I see him projecting his own character on the page, and I’m getting tired of it.