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The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street by Jacob Appel

Jacob Appel has quickly become my favorite short story author. Just by his titles alone, he piques my interest and desire to read his collections. Each of his stories is unquestionably unique. His tales stand out from other authors because of his distinctive writing qualities which include his uncanny ability to create characters that we feel like we know and understand. I think Mr. Appel’s experience as a psychiatrist enables him not only to craft his characters, but facilitates his thought-provoking, entertaining, and believable written works. This is my second collection of short stories by Jacob Appel, which I have read. I don’t just read his short stories, I devour them! Every twist, every turn, every revelation, every shock, every amazing detail…I devour them. I am not going to give away any details of his short stories; it would be unkind. I will tell you that the stories in this grouping are not as twisted as the stories in “Einstein’s Beach House”, but they are just as captivating!

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30761653-the-topless-widow-of-herkimer-street

Welcome to Hula Ville and Other Short Stories by Mark Lages.

Hula Ville: And Other Short Stories - Mark Evan

As indicated this book is a volume of short stories. The author has an easy-to-read, smooth, clear and clean writing style. He has no trouble setting the scene and finishing the story within a mere ten pages. They are the perfect length for reading to wind down right before bed. His stories are snippets of everyday life. Some have expected endings, some do not, and some just seem to edge toward a pinnacle but then they hit a brick wall. So, I can safely say: I enjoyed a few of the stories, I was bored by a few of the stories, and I was irritated by a few of the stories.
I was given a free copy of this book to review.
 
 

 

Grave Walker by, PT Reade. Non-Stop Suspense

Grave Walker by, PT Reade 

Well, I will have to say that I am a little ticked off at the writer!  I was going to just read a chapter before going to sleep but I couldn't stop reading it.  It was soon light out!  When I realized what time it was, I only had one chapter to go.  So, now a week later, I am still trying to get my sleep schedule back on track!  This book was fast-paced, engrossing, and intense!  What an awesome crime noir piece. I do not know why PT Reade does not have a book contract yet!  If a reader likes crime, suspense, or thrillers, this is the book for them!  I can't wait to get to my next PT Reade Book!

I Like to have a Sophisticated Snack with My Murders

Ice Whine and Irish Cheddar (Whine & Cheese Cozy Mystery Series) by, Judy Volhart
What a fun read!!! I have to admit, once I picked it up, I didn’t set it back down. I loved the characters; they were very relatable and approachable. It was a believable mystery and it easily swayed the pendulum from humor to suspense. I will be eagerly reading her next mystery as soon as it comes out!

A Delightful Disaster

Perfect Mayhem: The Perfect Disaster Series - Aimee Horton
Perfect Mayhem: The Perfect Disaster Series by, Aimee Horton
This is a laugh-out-loud quick read for those who are in their first few years of motherhood or those that can distinctly recall those first few years. It is written for the now generation who is used to the social media formatting. It is a different type of print writing style, but it seems to be catching on. I found the book to be very truthful and very relatable, which is why I found it so humorous. The author was wise in not making the book any longer using this style. However, I would have like to see a break between the years with perhaps a paragraph or two of text to give it a little more substance and clarity. Overall, it was a fun read.
 
 

 

Source: http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Mayhem-Disaster-Aimee-Horton-ebook/dp/B00X15M2IY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495417788&sr=8-1&keywords=perfect+mayhem

"Organic perfume: How to make your own Organic perfume" by Erik Smith

"Organic perfume: How to make your own Organic perfume" by Erik Smith
This book introduces you to the general makeup of perfumes. It teaches you how to make natural perfumes using essential oils and applying the basics to your formulas. It gives one recipe for each of the base scents. So there are five recipes for perfume. If you do not like what the result is, you can modify it using the information in the book. To get your scent will be trial and error until you find exactly what you are looking for.
I was somewhat disappointed by the book because I thought I would be using natural raw ingredients, not just essential oils. With the price of essential oils, I find that it would be cost-prohibitive for me to make perfume this way.
 
 
 

 

Source: http://www.amazon.com/Organic-perfume-How-make-your-ebook/dp/B01I05Q34I/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1494829143&sr=1-1&keywords=organic+perfume+erik+smith

A Brazen and Courageous Historical Mystery

Murder on the Last Frontier (A Charlotte Brody Mystery) - Cathy Pegau

I picked this book up started it on a Friday and finished it Saturday. I LOVED IT! Murder on the Last Frontier was everything a book should be! I am a stickler for historical facts; the movie, "The Notebook" just about killed me! I had my Google app at the ready and asked it every historical detail I questioned. The author was spot on with everything! I learned a bit too. I did not know rubber condoms began being manufactured in 1855; I love my useless factoids! She seamlessly incorporated historical facts, important agendas of the era, social taboos of the era, (and this era as well), the beginnings of a romance AND a mystery. Bravo!

The author pulled me into her world on the very first page and I felt as if I was actually in Charlotte’s world. I am glad I didn't read this book last winter, because I was immediately pulled in to its Alaskan setting and could feel the chills of the frigid weather as Charlotte did. Memories of walking through slushy puddles and cold water seeping in over the soles of my shoes also came to mind.

Cathy Pegau brazenly, and courageously brings controversial and important issues into her book. It is mind-boggling that we are going through the same things today, 100 years later! I will call her brave, because there are so few authors that will touch controversy, unless they know that they have a select audience already. I may have cheerfully commented out-loud a few times, especially when Charlotte threw back biblical facts to the "righteous".

I observed some readers comments that classified this novel as a cozy, but I find that it is NOT a cozy mystery, but a well thought out historical mystery, as it is not a neat little murder wrapped up.  It is a book that definitely goes in places no cozy has ever gone. Its main character is a feminist, believes in women’s rights and is highly interested in the suffragette movement beginning to take place.  If these are things that interest you, this is a book you must read!

Mystical Hiding Places by Dr. Sandra Rhodes.

Mystical Hiding Places:  A Coloring Book for Adults - Dr. Sandra Rhodes

Mystical Hiding Places by Dr. Sandra Rhodes.

 

Wow! This is an amazing adult coloring book. The pictures in this book were obviously carefully selected before including them in the finished book.  They are all very unique, detailed and imaginative.  They all can make beautiful finished pieces that are suitable for framing.  Using gel-pens on these pages makes for some vibrant and stunning works of art.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Suicide Game by Haidji

SG - Suicide Game - Haidji

 

When I first picked up the book to read, the cover seemed simple and bland, but after reading Suicide Game, I realized the cover was perfect.  On the back cover I read that the story was a metaphor…well, I can tell you I didn’t know if I was going to like it then.  That being said, this book is so much more than a metaphor, in fact if you don’t feel like doing the thinking while reading and let the metaphor slip over your head, this futuristic story will still captivate you. 

 

SG - Suicide Game is not just a metaphor, it is a complete work of art!  Just like an impressive painting, you can sit back and contemplate it and discover more with each view.  Haidji has put all forms of her artistry into this book and it is a masterpiece!

I received this book free from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.

Dirtbags

Dirtbags - Eryk Pruitt

With his introductory book, Eryk Pruitt wows us with his writing skills.  Dirtbags is an excellent and obvious title choice once you have read this darkly humorous book. 

Picture this if you will, a small rural town with most of its jobs depleted with the closed factories. Those with astuteness and realistic dreams have since moved on out of Lake Castor and those inhabitants that do not possess the same acumen have remained.  The current residents of Lake Castor are the ones this story is about.  These are the degenerates, the “ne'er-do-wells”, of society, those that you hope will stay in Lake Castor forever so you will never have the chance to cross paths with them.  You don’t need to worry too much though, Lake Castor is being ‘cleaned-up’ by its own resident serial killer wanna-be in training.

What fun!  Well, that is if you don’t mind a lot of unsavory characters, a little depravity, and some very twisted humor.  I do, and I loved the book.  I found myself laughing out loud many times during this fast-paced read.  I caught myself saying, “What?” in disbelief many times.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a book with a few unexpected plot turns and some very dark humor in their reading.  Some questions to ask yourself before reading this book are:  What happens when a mass murder wanna-be and a serial killer wanna-be get together?; Can you take the trailer out of the girl, even if you have taken the girl out the trailer?;  When does a sociopath become a psychopath?

Pruitt’s second book, “Hashtag” is even better, and a much wilder ride!

A Curious Beginning

A Curious Beginning - Deanna Raybourn

The story begins at the gravesite of recently deceased Miss Nell Harbottle, on a windy day in June, in the year 1887.  Here, Veronica Speedwell, a most unique, extremely intelligent, inquisitive and independent woman is pondering her first adventure in life while being completely free. Miss Speedwell feels that with the passing of the last person that she has considered family, her life will now begin.  What happens next in this Victorian tale of woven mysteries is the first of many clues that direct Veronica to uncover her shrouded beginnings.  Not long into her adventure she meets a handsome scientist called Stoker.  With his help she is able to unravel her enigmatic birth and all of its surrounding secrets.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable book.  The settings are meticulously described to ensure the reader feels as they are back in 1887.  The dialogue, the daily routines, the clothing and the historic events have obviously been carefully researched by the author.  I give this a strong 4 ½ stars. 

I did have a slight problem with the fact that the main character is portrayed as being very intelligent, a scientist herself actually, but she does not question the fact that her aunts had no source of income and moved from town to town on a regular basis. She never asked, wondered or questioned about this all of the time she was growing up. This alone seems to be completely out of sync with her character.

Hashtag by Eryk Pruitt

This book is broken up into three distinctive parts which intersect at various points.
The first part features Jake, a violent parolee who is hell-bent on getting revenge, and Odie, a pushover that works at a pizza joint who desperately wants to escape his life as an over-looked nobody. These two unlikely misfits pair up and head across the country both seeking to fulfill their far-reaching goals.
In the second part we have the extremely misguided and amoral deputy Roy Raines, who will stop at nothing to get out of an honest day’s work, even if it ends up being twice as much work not to do any work.
In the last section we have Melinda Kendall, who shows us how one poor decision can lead to an avalanche of exceedingly bad decisions.
How much I liked this book actually surprised me. There is no protagonist, no hero, and no good guy. Heck, there is not even one likeable character in the entire book! These characters are the people we seek to avoid in our daily lives. They lead the lives that we read in the headlines of our papers, the ones that leave us wondering how someone could possibly do such insane things. Yet, story teller Eryk Pruitt pulls us in and has us turning the pages in anticipation of what will happen next.
What will happen next? You won’t see it coming, I guarantee that! This book is literally one wild ride and it is a fun and twisted ride at that!

A Field Guide to Awkward Silences

A Field Guide to Awkward Silences - Alexandra Petri

This book is a memoir of Alexandra’s experiences from childhood through her college years. Within the confines of this compilation there are short scenarios, essays, and drawn- out narratives. All are written with Petri’s distinctive brand of humor, which can also be seen in her column that she writes for the Washington Post. Alexandra, being the daughter of a United States Senator, a Harvard graduate, a Star Wars fanatic, and a person that has absolutely no qualms about putting herself in any awkward situation, offers some very unique experiences that only she can share. Be prepared to laugh-out-loud while reading this collection of amusing, outrageous, unusual, and sometimes, almost unbelievable tales.
This book is divided up by each unique chapter, some a page or two, others are up to thirty pages in length, but all seem to have the same feel and rhythm as her newspaper column. I chose to read this book slowly reading only a chapter a day. The beginning of the book was hilarious. I was having so much fun reading about Alexandra that I actually Googled her and I found her speech she gave at her Harvard graduation. It was the best graduation speech I have ever heard, or I should say, listened to in its entirety. Petri, sticks true to her humorous writing now as she did with that speech.
Now, I would have given this book a five star rating if she would have stayed with the shorter stories that gave many laughs, instead of some of the longer tales. I felt that she wavered off point quite a bit in some of the long chapters, kind of like she took a detour before getting back on the main road again. I must also say that not every chapter is for every person. She has thirty pages of Star Wars in there. If you are not a Star Wars fan, this chapter will probably not appeal to you. Her chapter about her dog may also not be to some peoples liking. My recommendation, if you are going to read this book, is to skip the chapters that are not to your liking, and enjoy the rest.

Clean Teen Publishing Giveaway

 

Giveaway

 

win the first CLEAN TEEN PUBLISHING MYSTERY BOX

As Night Falls

As Night Falls: A Novel - Jenny Milchman

I am rating this book based on the suspense writing only. The beginning of the book led me to wanting to discard it; the metephors, similes and allusions did not resonate the imagery the author was hoping to illustrate. In fact, some of them made absolutely no sense at all. However, I did not put it down, I kept reading. Then, catching me unaware, the author chages gears and leads into the set up of the unexpected scenes with a mastery that had me turning the pages and reading faster and faster wanting to know what happened next. The author manages to take the reader to frenzied heights of anticipation, delivers, then lets her audience recover and starts the climb again, much like that of a thrill ride on a rollercoaster.

Them Bones

Them Bones - Carolyn Haines

This is the first book of the series of "Sarah Booth Delaney Mysteries".  I have read all of them and each one builds on the one before it.  The characters evolve into complex beings that you get emotionally invested in.  That being said, this is the weakest book of the entire series so far. From this point on all of them warrant 4.5 or 5 star ratings! 

 

This is the only series I have recommended and re-recommended to other readers of mystery.  

 

They are lighter mysteries, but a little heavier than cozy mysteries.  There is suspense and always a little romance too.  I won't give away the best parts though, you will have to read them for yourself!