Monthly Archives: August 2021

Book Review: Grumpy Old Man – Modern Day Satire

Grumpy Old Man

By Tom J. Lyons

The death of multi-millionaire Ramsay Marshall is not a huge surprise. He was only seventy-five, but the heart attacks he previously suffered made him look and act like a much older man. When he is found dead, it is assumed to be a fatal heart attack, but his daughter, Sophia, thinks it is murder. She hires ex-military sergeant Palmer Doyle’s investigations company to find the truth. Doyle International begins to look into Marshall’s death and will hopefully sort out the huge inheritance of Sophia and her slimy step-brother, Brad.

Palmer and Sophia have a past. She helped nurse him back to health after he was injured in the war. It was a brief encounter, but she made a big impression. Palmer wonders if they can become close once again as his team begins to investigate the case. Each of the eclectic investigators he has assembled brings something of value to the company. Dakota is a tattooed, pierced, purple haired computer whiz. John, nicknamed Sharkie due to his oddly pointed teeth, has snapping turtles for pets and has a serious problem with hemorrhoids and is perfect for gathering information. Then there is Meghan the secretary – she keeps this ragtag group on task and holds a secret torch for Palmer.

 This fast-paced satire is entertaining, interesting and has an unexpected ending. The quirky characters and solid plot are woven together to create a fantastic novel. If you are a fan of Tim Dorsey, you will love Grumpy Old Man. Full disclosure – this novel does contain sexual situations.

Tom J. Lyons is the author of several books. This is the first book I have read by this author and sincerely hope there will be a sequel or an entire series. I cannot get enough of these characters.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Picture Book Review: Under the Moon and the Stars

Written by: Laura Kosann

Illustrated by Danielle Kosann

This modern-day fairytale is about a little girl who questions who she is and what she can become. As she sleeps under the stars, she dreams of a fairy that reminds her she has had the power all along to make her dreams come true. The bumblebees confirm that she only has to believe to become a queen if she desires. This boosts the little girl’s confidence to help her believe in herself.

This colorful picture book is written for children ages four to seven. I am a fan of teaching children new words, but “contemplated” and concept of “seize the day” may be a bit of a stretch for many in this age group. The second page has a fairy telling the little girl, “You’ve had the power all along..” Then the little girl thinks her classmates “had been wrong all along”.  I would have liked a bit more information. Was she teased because she was small? Did she have friends?

The illustrations are colorful. They appear dreamlike such as queens wearing crowns with only one eye. The animals and flowers are drawn in beautiful eye-catching colors that children will love. I struggled with this book because the illustrations are for younger children, but the vocabulary and storyline are for children possibly older than the targeted age group.

This is the first picture book by Laura and Danielle Kosann. They are the authors of Great Tastes, a “Cooking and Eating from Morning to Midnight, A Cookbook”.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman #UndertheSunMoonandStars #NetGalley

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Book Review: Ghosts – Who Has Ghosted You?

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

We encounter many ghosts in a lifetime. Not the ghosts like Casper or those that Ghostbusters zapped into submission. This is about people ghost who ghost others, like the friends and relatives that seeming drop off the planet. No phone calls, no text messages and certainly no face-to-face communication. These are the type of ghosts that haunt Nina George Dean in Dolly Alderton’s debut novel.

Nina is a single woman fairly satisfied with her life. At 32, she owns her flat and loves her job. She is a published author of a cookbook and has an advance for the second. Her love of writing and cooking have blended into the perfect career. The only thing missing in her life is someone special. So begins her quest to find someone to share her life with via an online dating service.

To her surprise, she meets a man that she can see herself spending her life with. Up until the moment he ghosts her. Shattered, she attempts to spend time with her best friend. Unfortunately, her friend is now married and a mother. Nina isn’t really sure of how to proceed with this friendship because their lives have nothing in common except their past. As if being ghosted by her lover as well as her best friend isn’t enough, Nina is slowly losing her father to dementia. Her mother is in denial, leaving Nina to contend with the ghost that used to be her father.

Ghosts is a work of fiction that is easy to read, yet reaches into your thoughts. The characters and storyline will keep you thinking about it long after the last pages are read. Everyone has been ghosted by someone that they have cared about. The truths wrapped in this novel are haunting – much like the ghosts in our pasts. I highly recommend it.

Dolly Alderton is a journalist, author and podcaster. Ghosts is her debut novel. She is a Sunday Times best-selling author with her memoir, Everything I know About Love. The memoir has garnered several awards, including a National Book Award, a British Book Award and has been translated into 25 languages. Additionally, it was nominated for the Waterstones Book of the Year Award. Ms. Alderton is one to watch, I can’t wait to read her next novel. If you like Jennifer Weiner’s novels, you will love Ghosts.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Death of a Red-Hot Rancher – Intriging New Cozy Mystery

Brody Pierce is a sight to behold. Every female in the small town of Tinker’s Creek, Ohio takes notice of this tall piece of eye-candy when he comes to town. He made his fame and fortune in Hollywood as the hunky, rough and tumble actor in a truck commercial. This allowed him to purchase a ranch in Tinker’s Creek where he raises bison.

Lizzie Hale, the owner of the most successful romance bookstore in the Midwest, is not immune to Pierce’s rugged good looks, but tries to remain calm when he enters her store. All of her female customers, including her aunt, Charmaine, practically swooned at his feet. Yes, everyone loved and admired him – with the exception of at least one person. The one that killed him.

Unfortunately, Lizzie is the one that finds his body. She is obviously upset, but it is evident this is a murder and now she is in the thick of it. Quietly tallying up the clues she has observed, Lizzie begins to do a bit of sleuthing. Unfortunately, the clues start to point at one of the people in town she knows and cares for.

The setting of this small town and the bookstore Lizzie owns enhances the depth of characters and plot. It was quite enjoyable picturing the rooms in the bookstore as well as the bison ranch. The extra touch of Lizzie taking care of Brody’s orphan dog was heartwarming. Even though he left dog hair every place they traveled together. The requisite touch of romance is present in this cozy and I am looking forward to see how the characters develop in future books in this series.

This fast-paced cozy mystery is full of twists and turns. Usually, the killer is easy to spot, but there are so many people that had it out for Pierce, it was impossible to figure out who the killer was until the final chapters.

Mimi Granger aka Connie Laux is a new author to me as this is the first book of hers that I have read. She is an established mystery writer, and Death of a Red-Hot Rancher is the first book she has written as Mimi Granger, one of her many pen names. This is the first cozy mystery she has written, previously focused on romance novels. If you love cozies, you will love this book. I’m looking forward to more books in this series.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Till Daph Do Us Part – Perfect Cozy Mystery

As Daphne and John Jones make their way to a wedding that Daphne is going to officiate, she reflects on how much she loves her new job as an officiant for weddings and funerals, Her website has filled her calendar with future nuptials and new places to see as she and John travel in Bluebell, their caravan (a camper to us in the States).Daphne muses that weddings bring out the best and the worst of people.

Unfortunately, this wedding also brings a murder. Keen to find out what happened, Daphne begins to investigate on her own. She has observed the feud between the bride and groom’s families. Apparently, it has gone back several generations and doesn’t seem it will be forgotten anytime soon. How many people will end up dead before Daph (as she likes to be called) can climb back safely into Bluebell and drive off, leaving the feud and deaths behind her? Will she be on the killer’s list as well?

Till Daph Do Us Part is set in Australia. Author Phillipa Nefri Clark strives to give readers a true Aussie/British English experience. In my estimation she has done a smashingly good job of bringing readers into the caravan with Daphne and John Jones.

Like all cozy mysteries, Till Daph Do Us Part has an amateur gumshoe on the case. Dogging suspects and digging in the past, Daph wiggles her way into the investigation. The local police are kind and allow her to give them her thoughts and suggestions but warn her to stay away from potentially fatal situations. Of course, she carries on.

This is the first book in the Daphne Jones Mystery Series. The setting and characters are fun and interesting. It is brilliant that Ms. Clark has them traveling in the caravan so the murders take place in different towns and settings, allowing readers to come along on the adventure. This is the first book I have read by this author. She has written several other mysteries, suspense and romance novels. I am anxious to check them out as well.

If you like Murder She Wrote, you will love Till Daph Do Us Part. It is a fun cozy mystery, plotted perfectly and always interesting to have the main character born in my generation, proving retirees can do crazy things including solve murders. I can’t wait to check out her other books, including the next two books in this series.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for a fair and honest review. You can find it here:

Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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