Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween is Murder


Beware of all that goes bump in the night…
Sean and Sara McKinley are excited about the haunted house they’ve set up as a Halloween charity fund-raiser, but things take a ghoulish turn when the reporter covering their story is found dead. With the media keeping mum about how she died, Sara’s curiosity is piqued, and she convinces Sean to take on the investigation through their PI firm.
But this case is not without its challenges. The police are actively investigating it, as well, and it’s not even clear that the woman was murdered. It will take a little cloak-and-dagger, dress-up, and finesse for the McKinleys to get to the bottom of it, but they aren’t the kind to give up.
As they troll for leads and work through the skeletons in the reporter’s closet, they unearth a few suspects, but they’ll need to carve out the whole truth if they’re going to find her killer. If they do so fast enough, there might even be time for a little trick-or-treating.

My Thoughts

Such a fun book!  I really enjoyed it!

I was a little concerned when I saw that Halloween is Murder is book #11 in the McKinley Mysteries but I soon realized that I didn't need to worry at all.  I didn't really need a back story.  This book can stand alone easily.

The characters are fun and entertaining.  I love the relationship between Sean and Sara McKinley.  They are great together!  And, while I didn't need a back story, there were little tidbits here and there that let me in on some things from past books.

I am so glad that I remembered that I had a halloween book on my tar in time to pick it up before halloween!  Such a fun read!  Thank you, Hibbert & Stiles Publishing Inc, for sending this book my way!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Guest Post! Author Andrew Joyce

Hello, my name is Andrew Joyce. I’m here today to try to sell a few books. I have a new book out entitled Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups. And I thought it might help if I brought my dog along because he’s a bit more articulate than I am. We’re here to discuss a few of our favorite things. But first, I’d like to introduce you to Danny the Dog.
Say hello, Danny.
Could you be a bit more enthusiastic?
Could you get on with it? You dragged me away from a Lassie rerun. She was just about to save Timmy, who fell into a well. I wanted to see how she was gonna do it, seeing as she has no opposable thumbs. You never know, I might have to save you from a well someday. Then you’ll be sorry you didn’t let me finish watching my show.
Okay. Let’s just get down to it. I’ll say my favorite things first and then you can tell the nice people about your favorite things.
Why do you get to go first?
It really doesn’t matter to me, Danny. Do you want to go first?
Boy, oh boy! You are something else. I’m sorry, folks, but Danny seems to be in a mood today. I’ll start the ball rolling by telling you some of my favorite things.
Make sure they’re not too sappy.
Be quiet, Danny. Okay, here goes. I like getting up early to see the sun rise out of the ocean. I like rainy days when I can stay inside and read a good book. I like a good cup of coffee, and happy endings in movies. Now it’s your turn, Danny.
Whoa! Are you kidding me? What are you trying to do, fool these poor people? I’ll tell ’em what you really like.
No need to do that, Danny. I’m just trying to sell some books here.
Hush. If you want to sell books, then be honest with the people. It’s my turn and I’ll use it to tell the people what you’re really like. Andrew’s favorite thing is vodka. Then there’s his obsession with beer. You should see him when he has a snootful. He’s just like Hemingway. I don’t mean he can write like Hemingway, but he sure can drink like him.
Thanks a lot, Danny.
I’m not done yet. Sunrises? Andrew hasn’t seen a sunrise since I was a pup. And coffee? Of course, he loves coffee. He puts three shots of vodka in every cup. I will admit he does read a lot, rain or shine.
You are a bad doggie, Danny. Alright, you blew my cover, but we still haven’t heard about your favorite things.
I thought you’d never ask. I love to sniff where other dogs have peed. I love our walks in the morning when it’s just the two of us. I love it when, after our walks, you give me those treats. But do you want to know what I love the most?
I’m afraid to ask.
I love you. I’m hard on you because I’m trying to keep you on the straight and narrow. An impossible task, I think. But I’ll keep trying.
Aww shucks, Danny.
Can we get out of here now? There’s an old Rin Tin Tin movie on TCM that I don’t want to miss.
Sure, Danny. Let me just thank Carrie for having us over.
Thank her for me too. It wasn’t so bad.

Thank you, Carrie.

Call Me Sunflower by Miriam Spitzer Franklin


Sunny Beringer hates her first name—her real first name—Sunflower. And she hates that her mom has suddenly left behind her dad, Scott, and uprooted their family miles away from New Jersey to North Carolina just so she can pursue some fancy degree. Sunny has to live with a grandmother she barely knows, and she’s had to leave her beloved cat and all her friends behind. And no one else seems to think anything is wrong.

So she creates “Sunny Beringer’s Totally Awesome Plan for Romance”—a list of sure-fire ways to make her mom and Scott fall madly in love again, including:

Send Mom flowers from a “Secret Admirer” to make Scott jealous and make him regret letting them move so far away.
Make a playlist of Scott’s favorite love songs—the mushier the better—and make sure it’s always playing in the car.
Ask them about the good old days when they first fell in love.
But while working on a photo album guaranteed to make Mom change her mind and rush them right back home, Sunny discovers a photo—one that changes everything.

Sunny’s family, the people she thought she could trust most in the world, have been keeping an enormous secret from her. And she’ll have to reconcile her family’s past and present, or she’ll lose everything about their future.

 My Thoughts

Call Me Sunflower is a pretty good middle grade novel that, when the plot twist came to light, caught me completely off guard!  I won't say what it was because I certainly don't want to ruin the book for anyone else, but I really didn't see it coming!  Not at all.

There were several things that I enjoyed about this book.  First of all, for a middle grade book, the storyline had a lot of deep, impactful subjects and they were all written very well.  I felt so bad for Sunny, having to move from her dad, cat, and friends isn't an easy thing.  Especially at that age.

Something that didn't sit well with me was some of Sunny's behavior.  Maybe it's because I am a mom that it stood out to me so much.  Another thing I didn't like has to do with the big family secret.  I really don't understand how a family could keep something like that a secret.  I wouldn't do that to my children.

I still enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others.  As a matter of fact, I already have!  My daughter just finished reading it and she definitely liked it!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Girl Who Wouldn't Die by Randall Platt


It’s 1939 in Poland, and Arab knows that standing up for anyone—especially her Jewish family—only paints a target on her back. So she plans to survive the Nazi occupation the way she always has: disguise herself as an Aryan boy, lead her street gang, and sell whatever she can steal.

But though Arab starts the war with the one goal of staying alive, others have different ideas for her. When a stranger asks for her help with a covert rescue mission, Arab has to make a choice. Trying to be a hero is a surefire way to get killed. But if she doesn’t do it, who will? 

Hard-hitting and unforgettable, The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die is a story about survival, the necessity of resistance, and the hope that can be found when the world is at its darkest.

My Thoughts

I.  Am.  So.  Confused.

When I finished this book I thought I really liked it!  I realize how stupid that sounds but hold on a minute and I'll explain.  Like I said, I honestly put the book down and let out one of those breaths that you don't really realize that you're holding when you get to the end of a really impactful book.  I really, really liked it!

Now here I am, starting to type out a review and I go to Goodreads to snag a copy of the cover of the book.  I scroll down to see if many people have already posted reviews and I see a ton of reviews that just trashed this book!  More 1 star ratings than I've ever come across before.  So, I read some and discovered how problematic this book seems to be.

I am not Jewish.  I sadly do not know much about Jewish history.  I knew that there were things in the book that made me cringe at times but I didn't really realize why.  Apparently, this book seems to be very offensive to the Jewish culture.  I hate that I didn't see it for myself.

This is where my problem comes in.  As someone who didn't know and recognize the problematic content, I really liked the book.  The story itself kept me engaged and not wanting to have to put it down.

I think that I will just post this review and not give the book a star rating at all.

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Around the World in 80 Tales by Dave Tomlinson


80 Stories, 25 Countries, 5 Continents, One Heck of a Ride! 

Come with me on a journey of captivating true travel stories from around the world. This fascinating kaleidoscope of people, places, history, food and culture will inspire, amuse and even amaze. Experience the challenges, rewards and fun of budget travel without leaving home!

My Thoughts

Around the World in 80 Tales is a wonderful book filled with Dave Tomlinson's stories of travels and adventures!  The pictures are a great added bonus.  They really add to the reading experience.

The book does start a little slow and, honestly, I was a little worried that I wasn't going to like it at all.  And, as I've said before, I hate having to give negative reviews!  The good news is, if you stick with it, you won't be disappointed.

I am not able to travel the world, but through books like this one, I am able to learn about different places and live vicariously through travelers like Dave Tomlinson!  There is nothing better than a book that is perfectly detailed to the point that you can picture it in your mind. And like I said, the pictures are a wonderful bonus!

*Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

While I Was Gone by Amanda Steel


Kayla Marshall is a young woman who was kidnapped at the age of seven while playing with her twin sister in a park. Her family had given up ever seeing her again. Fourteen years later she is reunited with her real family, after she was bought up by a couple who raised her as their own. Now she has to adapt to her new life, figure out where she belongs and get to know her real family while dealing with the lies told to her for so many years by the people she believed were her parents.

My Thoughts

I was pretty excited to read While I Was Gone when I received the review request.  The synopsis sounded extremely interesting.  I had so many books in line in front of this ones so it took a while before I was able to get to it.

When it was finally time to get started on it, I jumped right in!  That was when I realized that the story jumps right in as well.  I had poed to read about when Kayla was first reunited with her family.  Instead, the story starts with her already back living with her father.  That was fine, I guess I just had hopes for more.

The story had several high points and low points.  I would start to enjoy it and then, for me, it would sort of go flat.  And then there were times when things would happen so fast that it didn't seem natural.  I don't know, the book just had too many things that made it less believable.

While I Was Gone ended on a major cliffhanger.  I suppose that's how books in a series are supposed to be but I just wanted a bit more closure on some of the issues that Kayla was going through.  Part of me wants to know what is going to happen next but I not sure that I want it enough to finish this series.

*Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Jane of Manchester by J. G. Dow


Jane's life on the face of it isn't really too bad...she has great friends like party girl Natasha who's always up for a laugh and her close pal Polly, always there for her and of course her loving parents, but things could still be better... 

Most people she knows are either married or have kids and she has been single a while now and wonders if a good man is ever to be encountered again. The single life is far from a quiet one for Jane however, as she is constantly getting dragged to night clubs and bars by Natasha and the crew as well as enduring a particularly boozy weekend away at the seaside! 

Jane loves a lot about her life, disregarding rude plumbers in her flat and dealing with annoying superiors and a smug sister, but as a certain someone takes her eye, is everything about to change and get a whole lot more serious or is the single life determined to keep her captive a while longer yet...

My Thoughts

When I received an email requesting a review for this book I was pleased to too it!  It sounded like a fun read.  And, while it was a decent read, I'm not sure it was exactly for me.  I liked it well enough, I just didn't love it.

Jane of Manchester was a bit slow for me.  The storyline was good, it just didn't seem to keep me super interested.  I get several review requests a day, so I read several books a month.  I have so many to read that I have a hard time reading one that I'm not really enjoying.  If I'm not loving it I feel like I need to move on to the next!  This book didn't exactly make me feel the need to DNF it but the thought did pop into my mind occasionally that I could be reading something else.

I do have to say that this book did have kind of a Bridget Jone's Diary feel to it.  That was cool.  It made me want to watch those movies!  All in all, I didn't hate Jane of Manchester but I can't say that it was my favorite either.  I think I give it a 3.5 stars.

*Note:  I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Penny by Peter Davidson


The life of a penny.

My Thoughts

Have you ever held a penny and thought about all the places that it has been?  Especially an old penny.  When I was a kid, when I would clean my room and, half the time, throw a penny in the trash if I saw it on my floor!  I've often wondered how many kids have done that and how many pennies are in dumps and landfills.

Well, this story basically follows a 1982, 95% copper penny.  You read several stories of the people that had the penny, ways it was spent (or stolen), times it was dropped or discarded, and many more.  There may not be many people like me who have literally looked at a penny and wondered where it has been, but clearly Peter Davidson is one.  And, honestly, even if you have never wondered it before, you will enjoy this book and it will make you think a little each time you hold a penny in your hand.

*Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.