Book Review: A Murder For the Books – First in the Cozy Series

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher/author in connection with Killer Nashville in return for my review. Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

Nursing a broken heart and a bruised ego, Amy Webber flees to a small town in Virginia. Leaving a prestigious university job to become the director at the Taylorsville Public Library wasn’t part of her life plan, but it just might be what she needs at this point in her life.  She is enjoying the slower pace of life. Living with Aunt Lydia, whom she has adored since childhood, has been good for both of them.

Amy’s tranquility is upended when the tiny town is shattered by a murder. Not only is the body found in the library, but there may be a connection to one of Lydia and Amy’s long dead relatives. The mystery is too much for Amy to ignore. She begins to dig into the past with the help of her handsome new neighbor, Richard.

There is just enough romance to lighten up the tension of the mystery that must be solved. Richard is not only a partner in the investigation; he is also clearly smitten with Amy.  How long does her heart have to heal before she can trust anyone?

Against her better judgement, Amy impulsively jumps into the investigation. The closer she gets to the truth; she realizes that many of the people she loves may be in danger. Will she find the answers she seeks before the killer strikes again?

Murder for the Books is the first book in Victoria Gilbert’s new series.  It is the perfect cozy mystery.  The characters are interesting and can easily be seen as people you might know. The town sounds delightfully quirky with the beautiful setting of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background.

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Shelved Under Murder, slated for publication July 2018.

https://killernashville.com/murder-books-victoria-gilbert-review-laura-hartman/

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Book Review: Naked We Came – Compelling Mystery

Naked We Came

By Robert Lane

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the publisher.

Jake Travis is a haunted man. When he was seven years old his sister was abducted while on a family vacation. This life changing event was compounded by the reality that her body was never found and the person that committed this heinous act has never been brought to justice. It is no surprise that this shaped him into the man he is today. He only allows people to see what he wants them to, never getting close enough to find the truth of the guilt he has harbored since he was a child.

When the man Jake suspects of her death washes up close to his dock, Jake is immediately under suspicion for the death. Jake realizes that person who was trying to frame him for this murder must be involved in the death of his sister. Jake will stop at nothing to get the answers he has waited twenty years to hear, but he must do so as he is wanted for questioning by the authorities. His decision puts friends old and new in jeopardy. But Jake is relentlessly pursuing the truth of what happened and will not stop at any cost.

Lane is a masterful writer. He paints descriptions pulling the reader into the scenes with his characters. Bits of literary beauty are tucked in this gritty mystery. Much like Dean Koontz, Lane adds quotes such as one from Picasso and words that enhance the reader’s experience and enjoyment. For instance, “gibbous moon” had me clicking the dictionary feature on my Kindle.

This is the fourth Jake Travis novel I have read. I love Lane’s style of writing as well as the depth and growth of his characters. The plot-line of Naked We Came explains so much of how Jake reacts in the previous novels when confronting criminals. He is relentless – undoubtedly he sees his sister’s abductor in them. Like the previous novels in this series, Naked We Came is a fast-paced, complexly interesting mystery. I highly recommend this series.

Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Right Handed Lefty – Powerful YA Novel

Right Handed Lefty

By Ryan Coughlin

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the publisher.

Twelve year old Native American Ellis Sayer is different from other kids. He knows he is different and feels as though no one really wants him. Orphaned as a baby, he was adopted by a family that returned him. Now he lives with Marty and Suzanne who adopted him to fill the void in their lives that was created when their son died.

Ellis has two friends. Both of them are quirky but they get by a bit better than he does. Like other teens Ellis falls for a girl that currently hates him, and she is the cousin of one of his two only friends. The lives of the three boys turn upside down after an incident at school. They band together for a noble cause that pits them against an evil man that holds the power to destroy them. Now they only have each other to depend on in the life and death situation life that has been thrust upon them. They feel the only available option is flight.

Ellis is an interesting character. He is trying his best to fit in. He knows he is different and that the other kids don’t like him. He just tries to keep his head down and not get hurt. He breaks my heart for all of the kids that don’t feel like they fit in. This amazing YA novel will have you cheering for the misfits. Against all odds they must work together with a clear plan to accomplish their goal of staying alive.

Coughlin’s first novel is captivating. The parallel story lines of a Native American from years ago struggling with his identity and Ellis struggling with fitting in are expertly woven together to create a beautiful story. He addresses racism, the ostracizing of people who are different and acceptance of the world as it is, not as we would like it to be. He helps the reader realize that love can’t cure all evils but it helps make the evils a bit less painful.

Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Little Broken Things – Memorable Characters, Compelling Plot

Little Broken Things

By Nicole Baart

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley, Killer Nashville and Atria Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Little Broken Things begins with Nora Sanford cutting and dying the hair of a child she obviously loves, but is not hers. There is a sense of danger and impending disaster if she doesn’t change the little girl’s appearance and move her to a safe place before the unknown disaster befalls both of them.

Nora whisks her off and dumps her unceremoniously at her sister Quinn’s home. Without a clue as to who the child is, or why Nora drops her off without any explanation, Quinn is angry at her sister but fearful because Nora begged her not to let the child out of her sight. And more importantly, she was not to let anyone know the child was there. That is more than difficult because Quinn’s artist husband is living in the house with her. Her domineering mother, Liz, owns the house and lives right across the lake from them in the home that Nora, Quinn and their brother JJ grew up in. How can she keep a five year old secret in this little town of gossips? As the plot swirls around the little girl, with eminent danger closing in, there are no straight answers about her or her parents available to those who were given the impossible task of keeping her safe.

Nora has brought this to her family’s doorstep, but this is not the only secret her family has been pretending isn’t there. On the outside they were a solid, happy family but even as young children, the three Sandford kids knew how to keep secrets. Such as the happy family life they portrayed was often far from it. Even after the recent death of her husband, Liz followed the Sandford “rules” put in place by her domineering husband that often affected her children even though they are grown. They must find a way to work together to save this child no matter who she really is, even if it goes against everything they have been taught to do.

Baart brings so many elements in to bring her characters to life I felt as though I knew each of them. There were several things that brought them together. Art plays a huge but subtle part in the storyline. Motherhood also plays a huge role in Little Broken Things.

I really enjoyed Little Broken Things. It is smart, suspenseful, heartbreaking and written so well I was holding my breath praying for the safety of the little girl at the heart of the mystery. When an author can make me care that much for the characters she has created I know she will deeply touch the hearts of all of her readers. This is the first book I have read by Nicole Baart, but it will not be the last.

Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

 

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Book Review: Desert Kill Switch – Killer Classic Cars and Murder – Great Who Done It

Desert Kill Switch

By Mark S. Bacon

Former cop Lyle Deming is now a cabbie at a new theme park located in Arizona appropriately named Nostalgia City. His life is much calmer now that he left the force, and he likes it that way. Unfortunately for him, things are about to change for the worse.

While driving home with his daughter, he sees a vintage car on the side of the road and next to the classic Firebird is a body. A very dead body full of bullets. He hustles back to his Mustang, the main thing on his mind is keeping his daughter safe if the killers are still around.

He phones the local police, but when they get to the spot, there is no car, no body and no evidence of a crime. Deming knows he wasn’t hallucinating, so he begins investigating the crime and the missing victim on his own. Before he can get a good handle on what happened he is called to Reno because a close friend and coworker, Kate Sorensen is in trouble.

Kate, PR director of Nostalgia City, is manning a booth at a huge classic car event. Reno’s Rockin’ Summer Days is a great place to advertise Nostalgia City where the only cars allowed in the park are vintage rides. When one of the big wigs in charge of the event ends up on the wrong end of a knife, Kate is the prime suspect because she is found with the dead body and rumor has it she is trying to get the event moved to Nostalgia City.

Deming has to help her find the real killer before she is arrested, because the evidence points at Kate. He believes her innocence, but no one else does. So the two co-workers that seem to want to be more than friends are playing hide and seek with the cops, trying to find a killer and most importantly stay alive. After all, there is a killer on the loose who would love to see Kate in jail for the crime he or she committed.

There are so many suspects with plausible reasons to kill Al Busick it was fun to find out who finally did it. He was a conniving man, a car dealer with questionable morals and undeniably hated by many. It was fun to be twisted and turned by the plot. The characters are interesting and varied, each playing a vital role no matter how big or small.

Desert Kill Switch is a fast read, but don’t confuse that with a simply written story. Bacon’s descriptions are a thing of beauty. When looking for a suspect, Deming is driving down a desert road. The dust his tires are kicking up is described as “…ghosts following his car…” And the reader knows that Deming is well read when he quotes Dickens.

From the descriptions of Nostalgia City, I would love to have someone build this blast from the past theme park. I am sure it would be a big hit with baby boomers as well as those a bit younger.

Bacon’s second Nostalgia City Mystery is the first I have read. It is fun, suspenseful and impossible to put down once you crack the spine. I am going to search out the first in the series and keep an eye out for the third which is promised to be published soon.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves an easy to read, well written novel with an intriguing plot. It is a must read for mystery loving vintage car fans.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review. Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: there is no f*cking secret: letters from a badass bitch – I loved this book!


there is no f*cking secret

letters from a badass bitch

by Kelly Osbourne

Anyone who has seen Kelly Osbourne on the Osbournes when it was a smash it television reality series has preconceived notions and thoughts about her. If you watched her on Fashion Police or E! Live from the Red Carpet you more than likely have preconceived opinions of her.

Personally, I thought she was a strong woman who loved her family, wasn’t afraid to buck the system with fashion and her opinions. Kelly says what she feels in no uncertain language to whoever is around to hear it. Those thoughts were mostly accurate, but Kelly Osbourne is so much more than my perception of her, which is, I am sure, of most celebrities.

Kelly wrote her book in a series of letters. Each one is either to a person, such as her mom, dad and brother Jack, all of which she is crazy about and would do anything for them if they needed her. Other people she wrote to include celebrities like Joan Rivers whom she knew since she was six and body parts such as her vagina, lavender hair and mouth.

She also addresses deeply personal issues (yes, I know probably I should have put her vagina here, but seriously, it IS just another body part) such as her battle with drugs and rehab, social media, Ozzfest, London, dating, bullying and the brushes with death of both her mother and father.

All of these letters revealed more than an opinionated young celebrity who was raised in a rock and roll world that most of us can only imagine. She is bright, funny, a loyal friend and loving daughter, sister and aunt. Would she get on your nerves? Maybe. Would she have your back? No doubt about it.

In addition to all of the feelings and relationships Kelly talks about, there are fun facts we learn about her life and the world as she perceives it. It was fun reading about life on the tour bus. She and Jack had some crazy childhood memories of the summers of Ozzfest on the bus that you better not be late boarding after the last set was played. If so, you held up everyone for hours getting stuck in the traffic leaving the venue.

I also loved the little tidbits of word trivia sprinkled throughout the book. Kelly was born and raised in England then returned there from the states when she turned 19. Anyone who has heard her knows she has a British accent that I hope she never loses. She adds little side bars explaining some of the slang she uses that is common in Great Britain, but means something totally different here. Here are a few of my favorites:

Gearbox: Vagina

Trump: Fart

Mullered: Wasted

Sunday Roast: A big family dinner that we do every Sunday

All in all, my notions of Kelly have changed. I would be honored to have her as a friend. She is a bright, funny, crazy young woman who is deeply loyal to those she loves. She has had personal problems, and honestly who hasn’t? Hers have just been made public by social media and fame.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a frank, truthful and brutally honest behind the scene look at what is is growing up as a celebrity. Of course every celebrity child’s life is shaped differently, but the constant scrutiny is always there unless their parents have found a way to keep them hidden from the paparazzi. Kelly Osbourne has opened up her life for all the world to see in there is no f*cking secret

Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Whispering Room – Nail Biting Thriller

The Whispering Room

By Dean Koontz

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

The Whispering Room is the second novel featuring Jane Hawk, ex FBI agent who is now the most wanted woman in the United States. She is wanted for murder and various other charges that seem to pop up every day. Jane has been wrongly accused of most of the crimes and only kills someone if it is necessary.

The force she is fighting is more than one person. A group called Techno Arcadians wants to make the world a perfect place by creating peace through mind control. They have created a technology that will enable an elite group of people absolute power over anyone that has been injected with a nano-machine implant that will live in their brains. If the person is told to kill someone, they will do it. If they are told to kill themselves they will do it. There are unimaginable horrors that can and will take place if the few in power are not stopped. Jane is the unrelenting force that is pursuing them.

She has lost the people she loves one by death and another by separation due to the Archadians.

Tough as nails and willing to die if she has to, Jane uses all of her skills, those she was born with and those taught to her by the United States government when she worked for them, to complete her self-imposed mission. She has made many friends and made alliances during her career. She will call in those chits as needed through her ordeal as well as create a few unlikely alliances. But will it be enough?

There is a reason Dean Koontz is a best-selling author. The story is full of plot twists and surprises. He paints the scenes so vividly with his words the reader is drawn in immediately and stays with Jane for the duration of her ordeal. There are so many beautiful bits of description and subtle humor Koontz books are a joy to read. One of the best in this book in this book is when one of the characters loves his truck a little less than his wife, but more than his cat. I know a few men that feel the same way.

The supporting characters have a depth that pleases readers without even realizing the richness it adds to the novel. It appears effortless, but I am sure it cannot be. Therefore we can only attribute it to the talented Mr. Koontz. A couple of my favorites were Jolie, a very strong, smart young woman, Dr. Walkins one of the kindest characters in the book as well as Bernie Riggowitz. I hope I see more of all of them in the next book. And a brief personal note: thank you Mr. Koontz for not killing Dixie.

I have read many of Dean Koontz books and he has never disappointed me. I thoroughly enjoyed The Whispering Room. It is smart, well-written and entertaining. It is the first book in the Jane Hawk series that I’ve read, but I plan to pick up the first book, The Silent Corner.

Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

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