Netgalley ARC

Book Review – Death Overdue (A Haunted Library Mystery) by Allison Brook.

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Crooked Lane Books for providing me with an electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Okay, this is a new series and – for me – a new author. These can be rather hit and miss for me but guess what? It was a hit! Now don’t get too eye rolling about how I seem to say that about everything, there are a few quibbles I am going to make about ‘Death Overdue’. Plus, you guys only see the reviews on the books I actually FINISH! Unless I feel it is so terribly bad that the world needs to be warned, I don’t air my “Did Not Finish” dirty laundry. That is between me and the author.

But back to ‘Death Overdue’. It starts a little shaky because of how flighty the main character is. Add to that the amount of info being crammed into the first few chapters to make the book enticing enough to read and… well, the start was a little rushed and shaky. But I put that down to “first of the series jitters” and didn’t let it stop me from reading on and enjoying the story.

The characters were well written, easy to tell apart, not simply cardboard cut outs of “small town America” and the story became very well-paced after that shaky start.

My biggest quibble is the ghost… I mean, the whole idea of a helpful sidekick ghost isn’t new and can be done quite well – see Angie Fox’s ‘Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries’ – but I found the ghost librarian in ‘Death Overdue’ rather redundant and pointless as a ghost. The character could have easily been alive and a snoopy old lady and the plot would not have been affected in anyway.

Perhaps in the next book there will be more supernatural happenings with this character to help justify it being a ghost… but for me, it was rather a letdown to an otherwise highly enjoyable story. Sort of like “hey, let’s cover the supernatural mystery genre while writing and say she’s a ghost!” and then not go anywhere truly that ghostly with her.

But please, please, PLEASE don’t think me providing this constructive criticism is me bagging the book. As I said, I really enjoyed it for the rest and found it an excellent first book of a cosy/ mystery series. Just, right now, I don’t see the need for a ghost. Maybe it’s just me?

Other than that, I was captured quickly by the tale, wanted to learn more and, despite figuring it out (as usual), enjoyed the ride it took to have my suspicions confirmed. A really fun and entertaining read with the right balance of padding, red herrings, intrigue, mystery and romance.

Formatting and usual boring appearance side of things – it was an ARC, there were hiccups but the general layout and the like was fine… Can you tell I wasn’t really that upset with the layout to see a need to actually mention it out of more than just habit? 😉

Death Overdue

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. Look, there were some person – MINOR – issues with the book but I really enjoyed it overall. It is also the first in a series that looks like a promising and highly entertaining cosy crime/ mystery series… so yes, yes I would recommend it.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Actually I think I would. I really did like it that much. It skips past the “library book” level of knowing it, straight into being something I would own. I’ve also started following Ms Brook on Amazon just so I can find out when the next book in the series comes out. I liked it that much, despite my issues with the ghost. 😀

In summary: A well written, well-paced first book in a potentially good new series. A little shaky at the start, but overall a great read.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Krampus: Countess of Cachtice (The Krampus Chronicles Book 2) by Sonia Halbach.

3 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Curiosity Quills for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

Okay… so this book almost became a DNF (Did Not Finish) for me and all due to my own fault. It has been two years since I read the first book in this series (I looked it up) and this usually isn’t a problem. Part of the savant area of my idiot is that I remember stories and can pick them up years later and not have to reread… most of the time. Obviously ‘The Krampus Chronicles’ is not one such series.

So! I know there are a lot of reviewers out there saying this can easily be read as a stand-alone books, and they are in some ways correct… but if you’re returning to this series a few years after reading the first book, I strongly suggest you reread the first book ‘The Three Sisters’ before heading into it.

And I only give this warning as I stumbled a lot over the first few chapters as I honestly couldn’t remember 100% who was who, what they’d done and where I’d left them. This is not the fault of the book or the author! It is the fault of the reader… well, THIS reader, and I think the tale would have gone a lot more smoothly for me if I’d had the time to rehash first. Ah well, we live and learn.

The reason I persevered is I did remember loving the first book and enjoying the whole Three Sisters and the Sister Wheels story. And, as I’ve said in previous reviews, who doesn’t like worlds within our own stories? I mean, seriously, WHO?! You? Oh we so have nothing to talk about, move along! 😉

Back to the book! ‘Krampus: Countess of Catiche’ begins three years after ‘The Three Sisters’ ends and it does take a little time for the characters to all get back into the world of the Foundlings and Poppel. Took me a while too! But once the pace of the book got going, things went well.

The story is actually a few different timelines interwoven well as we cross centuries, locations and characters. But it all builds up to the same end result and the ending was another “wait, what? No, don’t stop writing THERE!” moment for me. Oh you authors, you’re such a tease the way you get us hooked and then leave us dangling, hungry for more. Can I just ask the next book isn’t two years in the making? Selfish of me I know when my own series is spaced just as far apart. 😉

So… a slow read, but in the end well-paced, well written and all the characters, times and locations well described and not hard to separate and know where you’re going… even when they all start to spin together and characters cross timelines. The overall storyline was kept smooth, easy to understand and very entertaining. Don’t I look the goose having almost not finished reading it?

As for the formatting and the like? Well, I can’t remember any major clangers and even if there were, this was an ARC and the final edit will be fine. Actually, I tend to find that Curiosity Quills go over their books with a fine tooth comb before even sending them out as an ARC so really not surprised at the quality received.

Would I recommend this book to others?

I would… but I would be reluctant to recommend it as a stand-alone. I would suggest people get both books and read them in order. I mean, yes you COULD read it on its own… but you would be missing out on a great beginning story.

So yes I would recommend, but both books in ‘The Krampus Chronicles’, not just this one.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Uncertain. For now, mostly due to my own fault of not rereading ‘The Three Sisters’ first, I feel a little disjointed and disconnected from the series and therefore not that willing to own it, despite having enjoyed it. For the moment both books are at ‘library book’ level… as in something I would read, but only if borrowed. They aren’t quite at ‘would proudly own’ level yet… sorry. Maybe as the series grows? I am now following Ms Halbach on Amazon just to ensure I know when the next one it out… so obviously a good series as I only follow the best authors. 😉

In summary: A good continuation of a creatively original series.

Until next time,

Janis

Book Review – The Antique House Murders (The Oakwood Mystery Series Book 2) by Leslie Nagel.

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Random House Publishing Group – Alibi for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Gosh I seem to be giving a lot of 4 out of 5 stars of late… obviously I’ve hit a seam of excellent books in my TBR pile!

‘The Antique House Murders’ is book two in ‘The Oakwood Mystery Series’ by Leslie Nagel and, being open and honest, I fell in love with this series with book one ‘The Book Club Murders’. So was thrilled to be given the opportunity to review this second book. I just feel I need to apologise for not reading it sooner! It’s been a crazy year for me and let’s leave it at that. 😉

Okay, so for those who haven’t read the first book in the series let me just say – why not? Come one people, keep up! 😀

Actually, what I was going to say was that ‘The Antique House Murders’ can be enjoyed as a stand-alone book if you must. There is enough recapping on Charley’s love, life and adventures to get the reader up to speed pretty quickly. And, thankfully, not so much recapping as half the book seems to be reminding you what you’ve missed. I do so hate books that do that… maybe why I loved this one so much?

The story picks up a few months after the first book and involves the mysteries of an old manor house and the secrets surrounding it and the family that lived there. Charley and her shop ‘Old Hat’ get involved via some estate sold clothing and accessories and that fiery red head just takes it from there.

‘The Antique House Murders’ was definitely my kind of cosy/ mystery and it honestly had me up until 1:30am (on a school night – if it wasn’t the school holidays) just as I simply HAD to finish it. The intrigue, the adventure, the padding and the red herrings – a perfect balance.
What I think I loved the most is it took me a while to figure out the full ‘whodunit’. Yeah, cocky me thought it was so and so… but wait – not that person at all! Then I clicked it was such and such… and it was! But then… Oh!!!! Yeah, I was almost shouting at the book by that point, but it was after midnight and I am playing my “I was sleep deprived” card as my excuse. 😉

So, yes, a perfect blend of cosy/ mystery for me that literally had me guessing until right near the end of the book. And guessing in a good way, not a “this is just too convoluted to understand” way. Nope, Ms Nagel had me on tenterhooks throughout and I just NEEDED to know! The way she kept weaving ideas, story lines, padding and red herrings together – brilliant.

A quick mention to the formatting of this eBook – it was a bit garbled in places (spaces and paragraphs appearing where they shouldn’t) and there were a few typos and formatting issues… but this was an ARC and they’re allowed to get away with such things. I am sure the final edit is perfect… But you know I do like to mention these things. EBooks shouldn’t be second class formatting.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Gee, I think I’ve given myself a way here, right? Yes, I most definitely would. Again, I feel the reader should do ‘The Oakwood Mystery Series’ the justice it deserves and read ‘The Book Club Murders’ first. But yes, I would recommend this book to lovers of the modern day American cosy/ mystery. Very well written and highly enjoyable.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Yes I would. I am most definitely in love with this series and happily buy them. I can’t wait for the next one either!

In summary: A good, solid second book in a great murder mystery series. Highly recommend.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – The Hunt (The Devil’s Isle Series) by Chloe Neill.

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Orion Publishing Group for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Now, I finished reading ‘The Hunt’ a week ago and am only now getting to post my review. Firstly, it’s spring here, my whole family has been struggling through the last of the winter bugs as well as the last week of term three of school and, well, I was left with such a HUGE book hangover from ‘The Hunt’ that I needed a few days to lick my wounds, refocus on reality and get on with things.

Basically, I downloaded this book on September 21st, knew it was being released September 28th and only got to start reading it on the 23rd…. and finishing it ON the 28th. So, yeah, whirlwind read of a great book – and series – I love and so I needed recovery time. 😉

Okay, now we know why I’ve been going on about how amazing ‘The Hunt’ is on social media while not leaving any review; let’s get on with the review!

‘The Hunt’ is the third book in ‘The Devil’s Isle Series’ by Ms Neill and I was hooked back on book one! I love the setting, the premise behind the story  – the veil between our world and the beyond has been breached and magic now seeps through – and so on…. You want to know more? Go buy ‘The Veil’ and ‘The Sight’, read, enjoy and find out why I think it’s so amazing! 😀

Okay, back to my review of ‘The Hunt’. Well, I have to say I have been simply DYING to read this book as ‘The Sight’ ended in such a dramatic way. And so I found the beginning of ‘The Hunt’ a tad slow – but that can be put down to my impatience rather than Ms Neill’s writing ability.

The story begins about a month after ‘The Sight’ and a lot has happened. Claire has a new life, new duties and NOLA moves on around her as she (and the impatient reader) wonders what has happened to the man of her life.

Things then pick up well from there and the story then flows true to the first two books and before you know it you’re left with ANOTHER tremendous cliff hanger of an ending that leaves you groaning at having to wait for more and loving/ cursing Ms Neill for leaving yet another book in such a way.

Cryptic enough for you? Seriously, you want to now more – buy and read this series! It puts things like Ms Harrison’s ‘The Hollows’ into shadow with how good it is! 😉

Unlike other series – by other authors – ‘The Hunt’ has not come across as less of a book, or as if the ideas of the series have wandered and lost their way. No, we are still going as strong as the first book, ‘The Veil’ and still keeping with the initial core principles and plot of the entire series. This is some seriously good writing! I do hate when a series starts well and blows your mind and then dwindles. That is NOT the case at all with any of the books in ‘The Devil’s Isle Series’ and that is SUCH a relief to fangirl me! 😉

Devils isle The Hunt

Would I recommend this book to others?

 Yes I would. Though, if you haven’t guessed it, I would ensure they had read the rest of the series’ first. I mean, I suppose you COULD read each story as a stand-alone… but that would be such a waste of your time and Ms Neill’s talent. If they didn’t own ‘The Veil’ and ‘The Sight’ yet, I would recommend the person buy them while they are buying ‘The Hunt’ and then just lock themselves away for a weekend of fantastic reading.

Lovers of the true supernatural – the stuff without sparkles and/or porn on every other page – will love this book and series. Think Kim Harrison’s ‘The Hollows’, only better. Not so much a world within a world as two worlds colliding and fighting to see who wins.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Uh, I think I’ve given away my feelings on this matter already. As the answer is HECK YES! And I am already hanging out (impatiently) for the next book. Seriously Ms Neill – Write. Faster. 😀

In summary: Great book, excellent follow on to a great series, HUGE book hangover – highly recommend.

Ready or Not! – 150+ Make-Ahead, Make-Over, and Make-Now Recipes by Nom Nom Paleo by Michelle Tam, Henry Fong.

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Well, I have to start by saying this is a very different cook book to the ones I am used to reading and reviewing and, for a while, I wasn’t too sure if I was finding it refreshingly different or just a little too off centre for my liking. So, yeah, mixed feelings about the layout and formatting, but we will get to that later.

What I did love about ‘Ready or Not!’ is that it is my sort of paleo. I am a whole foods, make from scratch but nobody’s perfect sort of person… In fact I am known for calling myself perfectly imperfect and sometimes just eat cereal for dinner (gluten free and in activated almond milk but still cereal)!

And I really do find the term ‘Paleo’ has been given a really bad name in recent years as it’s gone from a generic term for just plain and simple whole food eating to anti this and ban that and “it’s all meat and you must hunt it yourself or you’re not a Paleo”…. I hate labels. And so refuse to call myself paleo due to all this negativity. It’s not a cult people! It’s a suggestion on how to eat food!

Which is why I loved ‘Ready or Not!’ as it not only seems to follow a similar perfectly imperfect lifestyle, but also seems to have gone back to the old style, far more flexible approach to paleo and so I am not ashamed to say I have read it… Or now follow ‘Nom Nom Paleo – Michelle Tan’ on Facebook. What can I say? Her food looks amazing and the recipes are simple and very easy to follow.

I will state here and now that my own personal food allergies and intolerances (recapping for those who don’t know me – wheat, allium, seafood, dairy to name a few) mean that not all recipes were suitable for me… while some could be fine-tuned to suit my needs and others were perfect to just go with… I’m looking at you Pina Colada Tapioca pudding!

So another reason to have mixed emotions as not every recipe in ‘Ready or Not!’ could be made in my house. And so as much as the book tempts and excites me with its differences… I am also disappointed it is yet another cook book that is hit and miss for my diet. Won’t anyone think of the allium intolerant? 😉

Okay, back to the layout and formatting of ‘Ready or Not!’ and me stating it’s very different to the norm. I mean, my 12 year old daughter loves it, but she is really into Manga and graphic novels – as well as inheriting my cook book addiction. It is indeed rather… unique being set out like a manga book but then again I think our modern new home cooks would like it as it has the set by set pictures and instructions, it has the smiley faces and constant chatter of making it like a one on one cooking conversation and would give them that feeling instant gratification the younger generation seems to need.

But for me? And my love of 100 year old (and then some) cook books that consist of a paragraph or two and the belief the reader knows their way around a kitchen and doesn’t need to be spoon fed each ingredient… yeah, I can’t say I enjoyed the manga style that much. A little too dumbed down and babyish for me.

Oh, and it is written for an American audience so uses imperial measurements and the American names for foods – such a cilantro rather than coriander. This may be a stumbling block for some new cooks here in Australia but who knows? Do Aussie kids still say capsicum rather than peppers? Maybe I am just outdated again. 😉

However! What I did love about the layout was how the recipes were broken down into different “are you ready?” sections… Hence the name ‘Ready or Not!’ I guess.

There is the intro that tells you all about how the book is laid out, then then prep section for sauces and other basics. Then we hit the section where you have all the time in the world to cook. The section for having some time to cook and the section on having no time and just wanting a wholesome family meal ASAP. This was great as I have days like this where I either have all the time in the world, a little time or none at all and so the idea of having a go to recipe idea for each time limit was great. Again, not all the recipes in any of these sections suited my personal dietary restrictions, but I really did love that layout as I honestly feel it a great way to encourage more people to skip the instant meals and take away and try their hand at some simple but tasty whole food home cooked meals.

So, yeah, a bit of a like/ unlike relationship happening here. 😀 I love the passion, enthusiasm and talent shown by Ms Tan and her family and I do love the styles of meals as Cantonese food – via Darwin – is my childhood comfort food. And so there was some definite connection there that has made this book somewhat appealing despite my also dislike of it. Oh dear, I am getting a split personality over it! 😀

Would I recommend this book to others?

You know, I think I would. But I would be recommending it to the younger generations. I can’t see myself or my mother wanting to race out and buy it… but I can see myself buying it for my daughter to add to her slowing increasing cook book collection.
It is a good cook book, but just one meant more for the modern generation rather than an old fuddy duddy like me. 😉

Would I buy this book for myself?

Ummm, I MIGHT sneak an electronic copy onto my tablet as a “just in case” as there were some really appealing recipes in ‘Ready or Not!’ or I might buy a paper version for my daughter and pinch it from time to time. I really can’t be sure… it interests me and I love the vibe Ms Tan has created… but manga cook books just go against my grain. 😉

In summary: a great cook book for the next generation of whole food home cooks.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Crossing Into The Mystic (The Crossings Trilogy, #1) by D.L. Koontz.

3 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Brimstone Fiction and Xpresso Book Tours for providing me with a free ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Okay, so I have mixed feelings about this book… Not as bad as a love/ hate sort of thing… more a love/ mild dislike. 😉

But I believe that mild dislike comes from two things – Firstly, this is a YA book and as an old fart (I know it’s not PC to call a 40+ an old fart but I feel you should be allowed to call YOURSELF an old fart whenever you like) I felt the age of the protagonist too young for all the things she was able to do… BUT!

I can honestly say that, when reading these sorts of books almost 30 years ago I would lovingly eaten her adventures up with a spoon and idolised her freedom. So, you can see, being an old fart I needed to let my inner teenager out to read this book to me before I could accept parts of it.

Secondly, saying all that, I was very anti religion as a teen – especially Christianity – and so would have had major issues with reading ‘Crossing into the Mystic’ back then. These days I’ve mellowed, chosen my path and faith and am happily a Pagan who sees the good and bad side of all religions and faiths, my own included. And so old fart me needed to talk down my inner teenager to ensure the book was read and not thrown onto the DNF pile simply as it included some harmless faith references.

Can you see why I have mixed emotions now? Yes, yes it is because I am just a fruit loop, well spotted. 😉

All that aside I have to say this was a well-written and very enjoyable YA story. Don’t look down on it as an adult and say “a 16 year old would NEVER get away with that”, look up to is as a 14 or 15 year old and say “gosh I wonder if I can be that free and independent”.

The characters were a little sketchy at first and did stay a little two dimensional throughout the story, but if I’m honest, that’s nothing that unusual in a YA book for me so not a negative. The setting was well written, the house, towns, surrounds… that is what a teen wants their imagination to be captured by. That and the emotions portrayed by the characters. So, again, I felt ‘Crossing into the Mystic’ well-written for a YA tale.

It is also the first in a trilogy and so that “sketchy” nature can be explained away. The first book in a trilogy needs to not only be an entertaining story, but fit in a lot of the foundations and intrigue to keep you wanting to not only read it, but the next two books.

And, to continue with the honesty side of things – that ending!!! Yes I went on over to Kindle Unlimited and got the next two books there and then! No spoilers about it but yes, both the old fart me and my inner teenager were HOOKED and are now reading the next book in trilogy ‘Edging Through the Darkness’.

The supernatural side of it was well done too. Scary and a little goosebump making… but not so scary or gory that it became inappropriate for the YA genre. A good mix of ghosts and things that go bump in the night.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. Probably more your teens and – in the case of my advanced reader G&T kids – some tweens too. Those older lovers of YA stories would need to be advised to let their inner teenager out to help them read it though to ensure they got full enjoyment from this tale.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Open and honest time – I was given a PDF of ‘Crossing into the Mystic’ and so probably will be a cheapskate and not but another copy of it… but as said already, I have gone and gotten the other two books in this series via Kindle Unlimited as I got so hooked by this first book. So, yeah, you could say that I would buy this trilogy and not just this book. 😉
In summary: An entertaining and thrilling first book in a YA supernatural trilogy and something I highly recommend.

Until next time,

Janis.

 

Book Review – Hanging Tobacco by Linda S. Browning.

4 out of 5 stars

I obtained a free electronic ARC of this book via Netgalley, where I am auto approved b Bookbuzz.net to access books from their catalogues.

So, I will freely admit here and now I went on search for a free ARC of this book as, quite frankly, I heard of it, have been loving all the works I’ve read so far of the author Linda S. Browning and I wanted to see what this new series was like before I bought it. Yes, I am indeed a cheapskate!

Was I disappointed? Heck no! It was almost as if her cosy crimes from the ‘Leslie & Belinda Tennessee Mysteries’ series merged with her love of the supernatural from ‘Pickett House’ and this was the end result. And, to me, it was yet another great story that looks to become a promising new series.

Oh, and please don’t think that my description of it being a bit of this and a bit of that makes it some sort of cookie cutter tales being chunked out for sale. Not at all! ‘Hanging Tobacco’ can be likened to Ms Browning’s earlier work… but it most definitely stands out as being its own person… so to speak. It is more a happy marriage of someone good at writing cosy crimes – as proven by one series – and who is good at writing about the supernatural – as proven by another of her books – has now hit the nail on the head by combining the two topics and her talents of weaving a good story and gone from there.

Does that make sense now? Yeah, no… I feel if I try again I am just going to make it even worse! 😉

So, anyhow, ‘Hanging tobacco’ is a great little stand-alone cosy crime/ mystery. It does start with a short story that sparked the inspiration for the main story and I loved that. It was like a two for one deal and the short story was a brilliant way to set the scene and get the reader into the right mindset for the main book ahead. It was like a reading appetiser! 😀

From memory, Ms Browning did this with the first Leslie and Belinda book too. A short story teaser followed by the actual full book. Loved it there too. Maybe it’s being a writer myself… but I adore how one little short story can then inspire a whole book, if not series. It just adds that extra touch of love and proof of passion about the work. Or maybe that’s just how I see it?

‘Hanging Tobacco’ was well paced (ie: addictive and having me read well past my bed time) cosy crime with a touch of the supernatural to add a twist to the usual crime sleuthing in small town America. I also do love how Olivia is a reporter so has a reason to be interested in the case.

Sometimes cosy crimes just have the main character coming across as nosy rather than sleuthing as her job and links to the crimes are miles apart with no real connection. But Olivia and the other characters were set up well to cover any grey areas without going to the other extreme of having access to everything, knowing everything and being some misunderstood super cop (the other end of the cosy crime spectrum). No, the choice of characters, the setting and the reasons for why things went the way they did was well thought out and a good balance.

Due to this good balance there was just the right amount of padding to the story, the right level of red herrings and I have to admit I honestly didn’t decide on whodunit until just before the book itself told me! That is rare! And it wasn’t due to the story being so convoluted it confused me… it was because the story simply had that RIGHT BALANCE of everything to keep me guessing, keep me entertained and make me satisfied with how it all wrapped up and was finished.

I really do hope the series continues as I would be more than willing to grab copies and continue reading.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Uh, I think I already have in all that flowery prose of how good it was to read. 😉

But for those who need the direct approach – yes I would. Lovers of a good American mystery/ cosy crime are going to really enjoy ‘Hanging tobacco’. For those worried there is too much supernatural in it to make it a true here and now cosy – don’t be worried, it’s fine. This is not a book on the supernatural that happens to include a cosy crime, this is a decent cosy crime book that just happens to have a touch of the supernatural to it. You will be fine, just buy, read it and enjoy!

Would I buy this book for myself?

Pretty sure I already answered this one too… but yes, yes I would. I follow Linda S. Browning on all the normal social media sites that allow me to be a fan and not deemed a stalker and will keep an eye out for any further books in this series and happily spend my money buying them!

 

In summary: A good author just created another great cosy crime/mystery series. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

Until next time,

Janis.