Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Stranger Times by C.K. McDonnell

 "Publication seeks desperate human being with capability to form sentences using the English language. No imbeciles, optimists, or Simons need apply."

The plot:  Hannah Willis is desperate. She's newly divorced, broke, and has no job experience or real job skills. Still, she's not sure she's desperate enough to join the staff of The Stranger Times. The newspaper reports on the bizarre, the weird, and the unbelievable. Even stepping inside the office, which is housed in an old church, feels like stepping into a looney bin. When Hannah arrives for her job interview, Reggie, a reporter on the paranormal, is on the roof, threatening to jump, and Bancroft, the paper's bombastic and often drunk editor, is threatening to shoot him. 

The other employees of The Stranger Times include Ox Chen, the paper's avowed ufologist, Stella, a snarky green-haired teen who was caught breaking into the church and now works there in penance, and Grace, the office manager. They're an odd bunch, and not always welcoming, but Hannah really needs this job. 

Things get even more surreal when several unexplainable incidents around Manchester make Hannah and the others start to wonder if some of the fantastic stories The Stranger Times prints each week might actually be true.

My thoughts:  This is one crazy fun book! It combines dark humor, dark magic and a mystery compelling enough to get even Bancroft out of his office and onto the streets of Manchester to investigate. I thought the bad guy was very unpleasant and creepy, but I grew to really like Hannah and all the other oddball and quirky characters working at The Stranger Times. Their humorous interactions made me laugh and kept me reading late into the night. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and I'm so glad McDonnell is writing a sequel. And I really want to thank Verushka for reviewing this book on her blog POP.EDIT.LIT; it was her review that made me want to read this one in the first place. 

Happy Reading!

Similar Read:  Ghosts of Gotham

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

This week's theme is a freebie! So I decided to give some review posts from 2013, my first year of blogging, a little extra love. Because not many people knew of or visited my blog back then. But I read a lot of really good books that year! Here are ten of my favorite books from 2013, with links to my original posts...check them out:

(Magic and mystery on Roanoke Island.)

(After ten years living in the woods with their drug-addicted mother, Carey and her little sister have just been brought back home. But can Carey adjust to normal life? This one's so good it made me cry.)

(An entertaining travel memoir to some of the most polluted places on earth.)

(Fun steampunk mystery with Mina Holmes and Evangeline Stoker.)

(Witty life lessons learned from reading Jane Austen's books.
I include my own 5 Jane Austen lessons in this post.)

(This is the book that made me a fan of Peter Hoeg for life.)

(Seven high school students trapped by a blizzard struggle to survive.)

(Four characters from Morocco trying to find a new life in Spain.)

(Fun mystery set in the 1920s involving a Vaudeville performer and a missing heiress.)

(Awesome ghost story and still my favorite St. James novel.)

Happy Reading!

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey

 "Miss Pym stopped breathing and stared in unbelieving fascination. No really, did any college, however physical and hearty, begin the day at half-past five! Anything was possible, of course, in a community which had use for neither bedside table nor bedside lamps, but--half-past five!"
Miss Lucy Pym, bestselling author of a book on psychology, has come to Leys Physical Training College in England to give a guest lecture. She doesn't intend to stay long, but the fresh-faced vitality and enthusiasm of the girls intrigues her. And when the seniors invite her to Sunday tea, she agrees to stay a little longer, thinking to enjoy their wholesome society.
"But I remind you that it is their last term, this. And so everything is e-norrrmously exaggerated. Everyone is just the least little bit insane. If a student is frightened by nature, then she is a thousand times more frightened this term. ... It is not a normal life they lead. You cannot expect them to be normal."
And when a terrible accident happens at the college, Miss Pym finds herself in a terrible dilemma -- does she reveal to the headmistress her suspicions that it wasn't an accident after all, or does she keep them to herself?

The mystery part of this novel only comes into play the last sixty pages. The majority of the book concerns Miss Pym's interactions with the staff and the senior girls at the college, and her observations of their fears, hopes, and jealousies. Good thing I like that private college setting! And Lucy Pym? She's delightful. There is an old-fashioned feel to this one, which makes sense since it was published in 1947, but I didn't mind that either. It's an introspective novel, with more personal interactions than any real action, but it does have a nice twist at the end. This is the first Josephine Tey book that I've read (which makes it perfect to fill my Classic by a New-To-You Author in Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge), but it won't be my last.

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Siren Saves the Billionaire by Kristen Painter

"Welcome to Nocturne Falls, the town where Halloween is celebrated 365 days a year. The tourists think it's all a show: the vampires, the werewolves, the witches, the occasional gargoyle flying through the sky. But the supernaturals populating the town know better. Living in Nocturne Falls means being yourself. Fangs and all."


I love Kristen Painter's Nocturne Falls series. There's nothing dark in these books. Each paranormal romance has fun magic, lots of humor, and a happy ending. The town is populated with a few humans and many vampires, werewolves, witches, gargoyles, Fae, and even a dragon. Undrea Seeley is a mermaid. She creates custom aquariums for people and she's just been hired to install a very large fish tank in tech billionaire Ethan Edmond's new house. 

She's attracted to Ethan right away, but that might be because of her mer-magic and an accidental kiss they share. After all, Ethan has a girlfriend (who claims to be his fiancèe), and Nina is not going to let Ethan go without a fight. She'll even use her own dark magic to keep him. But Undrea is determined to save Ethan from Nina...and protect him from her own magic, too. She'll just need a little help from Ethan's hairless cat, Bowie, and a few witch friends in order to do it. 

This entertaining paranormal romance is light-hearted, magical fun. I really liked Undrea and all her mermaid rules. Ethan and his cute cat were both great, too. And I like how the supernatural residents of Nocturne Falls always come together to help out one of their own. I think my favorite Painter novels are still The Vampire's Fake Fiancee, The Werewolf Dates the Deputy, and The Werewolf Meets His Match, but The Siren Saves the Billionaire is a very charming and enjoyable read, too. 

Happy Reading!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Haiku reviews...


Match Made in Paradise by Barbara Dunlop

Former model +
Alaskan bush pilot =
Fun romantic adventure.

Contemporary romance .... 296 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Gotta love an opposites attract story!)

The Book Collectors by Delphine Minoui

Trying to survive
in Syria, they find solace, hope
and sanctuary in books.

Nonfiction ....194 pages ....3.5/5 stars.
(A heartbreaking account of the siege of Daraya under Assad's brutal regime, and the young men who struggled so hard just to be free.)

Her Silent Cry by Lisa Regan

Lucy Ross, age seven, 
taken. The motive? Revenge.
Josie's on the case.

Mystery .... 340 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(This is the sixth Detective Josie Quinn mystery, and it's every bit as good as the first one, Vanishing Girls.)

Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Cold Wind by Paige Shelton

Beth Rivers moved to the small village of Benedict, Alaska, because she needed a place to hide where no one would find her, especially not the man who abducted her back in St. Louis. She can't remember much about him, but she fears he's still out there, hunting for her. But she feels safe in Alaska. Gril, the sheriff there, knows her story and keeps in touch with the police in Missouri. Beth's made a few friends in town, including Orin, the librarian, and Viola, who runs the halfway house where she rents  a room. She's even got a job putting out Benedict's newspaper, Petition. And she's writing her thrillers again. 

All is good until there's a mudslide outside of town and two young girls show up on Beth's doorstep, mute and covered in mud. No one seems to know where they belong. Then the frozen body of an unknown woman is found in a trapping shed outside of town. It looks like she's been dead for awhile, and that she didn't die of natural causes. And once again Beth finds herself involved in a murder investigation. 

I really enjoyed Paige Shelton's previous novel, Thin Ice, where I was first introduced to Beth and the town of Benedict, and I thought this second book was equally good. I liked how Beth is getting to know Alaska better and how she's fitting in with everyone in town, and I thought the two young girls were cute. (I liked their father, Tex, too.) The mystery surrounding them and the murdered woman does get a bit convoluted towards the end, and I questioned the killer's motive and some of the timing of everything, but overall I thought this was an entertaining book. And I'm looking forward to reading Shelton's next book set in Benedict, Alaska, which should come out this December. If you want to try this series, I recommend reading Thin Ice first.

Happy Reading!

Coming soon:

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday...

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's theme:  Books With Numbers in the Title.

I did a similar post called Reading by the Numbers a few years ago. So, this time around, I decided to go with books with numbers in the title that I've reviewed on my blog. I'm including a link to my original post of each book, so if any of these titles make you want to know more, click on the link and check them out.

Books With Numbers in the Title:

There's a book for everyone on this list: Mystery, Suspense, End-of-the-World, Science Fiction, Action, Nonfiction, Urban Fantasy, and Romance. 

Happy Reading!

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Bookish suspense...

Fallen is Linda Castillo's thirteenth Kate Burkholder mystery, and it's every bit as good as the twelve books that preceded it. I really enjoy this series. It's set in Painter's Mill, Ohio, a township of 5,300 people set in the heart of Amish country. Kate is the Chief of Police. She was raised Amish, but left the community when she was eighteen. Her ties to the Amish, and her understanding of their language and culture, is one of the reasons I enjoy reading these books so much. She has a close relationship with John Tomasetti, an FBI agent who sometimes helps out with her investigations.

This book begins with the brutal murder of Rachael Schwartz, another girl who was once part of Painter's Mill's Amish community. In fact, Kate used to babysit her. To have to investigate her murder now is hard for Kate. As she delves into Rachael's past, Kate discovers the once wild teenager had many secrets...and angered many people, both among the English as well as the Amish. And whoever killed Rachael is determined to keep Kate from learning the truth.

This is another solid offering from Linda Castillo. It's got good pacing, and the ending is very suspenseful. I guessed one of the twists early on, but the rest of the mystery kept me guessing. I liked this one. And I really like Kate and her small squad of police officers. Good characters and an interesting setting make this book another entertaining one by Linda Castillo. I'd give it 4 stars!

Happy Reading!

Other Kate Burkholder mysteries I've reviewed:

Thursday, September 9, 2021

September's Bookish Art...

Elizabeth Shippen Green -- The Library, 1905

"There is no greater pleasure than being surrounded by books."
--Tasha Alexander

Monday, September 6, 2021



I recently finished reading The Poet by Michael Connelly. This is the first book in Connelly's series that centers around Jack McEvoy, a news reporter who's beat is death. I could tell Connelly was writing from a lot of experience as someone who made a living writing for a newspaper for so many years because McEvoy felt very authentic. And I liked him. The case involving the supposed suicide of his brother was compelling, too. I look forward to reading the next Jack McEvoy book. (And the next Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller books, too.)

Here's my latest favorite cartoon from John Atkinson @ Wrong Hands.

Isn't this great?
It totally made me laugh.

So, I've never been a huge fan of pretzels, but I tried these Dot's Homestyle Pretzels the other day, and they are my new favorite snack! They're so yummy. And so addictive. I can't stop eating them. Which is bad. But they're just so good. 

My latest library haul:

1. Deception Cove by Owen Laukkanen
2 Return to the Center of the Earth by Greig Beck
3. Fallen by Linda Castillo
4. Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey
5. A Dark Lure by Loreth Anne White
6. You're So Dead by Ash Parsons
7. The Book Collectors by Delphine Minoui
8. On Basilisk Station by David Weber

The free book I just won from Goodreads:
(Doesn't it look like a fun holiday romance?)

And my latest fun bookish tee:

Have a great week...and Happy Reading!

Friday, September 3, 2021

The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor

Reverend Jack Brooks, along with her 14-year-old daughter, Flo, just got reassigned to Chapel Croft, a remote, insular village in Sussex, England. When she gets there, Jack is surprised to learn that the previous vicar killed himself inside the church. Chapel Croft is also known for the Sussex Martyrs--eight protestants who were burned at the stake 500 years ago. And only thirty years ago, two teenage girls went missing from Chapel Croft. No one knows what happened to them, although the former vicar seems to have been looking into their disappearance.

While Jack tries to fit in to her new parish life, her daughter, Flo, is having her own troubles. She meets a lanky boy named Wrigley who she kind of likes, gets bullied by two local teens, and has a terrifying vision of one of the Sussex Martyrs burning. Is it a portent of what's to come? Jack hopes not. But there are strange things happening in the village. She just hopes it doesn't have anything to do with the old exorcism kit that someone left for her.

In The Burning Girls, C.J. Tudor weaves together a myriad of threads--past secrets, present lies, murder, an exorcism gone wrong, rumors of ghosts, and anonymous threats--into one suspenseful tapestry. I had no idea where this book was headed when I began reading it, but I was content to sit back and watch the events unfold one by one. Tudor writes so well! And she's created two very human characters in Jack and Flo. They're both unconventional and independent individuals; I really liked their mother/daughter relationship. Hints of ghosts aside, there isn't much of the supernatural in this book. It's mostly a mystery, with several good twists and turns along the way. I found it to be a very compelling read. And that ending! It blew me away. I liked how all the different pieces came together, even though I wasn't expecting half of the revelations. This was another fun buddy read with Melody. Be sure to check out her review.

Happy Reading!

Melody's questions to me about this book:
1. There's quite a few elements and layers that weave into this suspense thriller, such as the macabre history of the burnt martyrs, the disappearance case of Merry and Joy, and the apparitions that are believed to haunt the old chapel, in which not not one of these is fully explained or showed in tons in this story. Which one of these do you wish the author would write more?

I wish the author had written a little more about Merry and Joy and who they were, and about their disappearance. Especially since that story line figures so prominently at the end of the book. It would have been nice to have known a little more of their story a little sooner. 

2. In three words, sum up how you feel about this book.  Impressed, Entertained, & Satisfied.