Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: The Fog Ladies – Getting Old Can be Murder

The Fog Ladies

By Susan McCormick

Sarah James is doing her medical residency at a San Francisco hospital. She is given an apartment in the same building as the group of women dubbed the Fog Ladies and grows fonder of them with every passing day. They are old and quirky, outspoken and most of them kind. But lately there have been accidents among the group. And a few deaths – are they just at the age where falls can be fatal or is someone methodically murdering these old ladies?

Getting old isn’t easy. The Fog Ladies expected sore joints, dimming vision and dicey digestion but none of them bargained for murder. Maybe it is just a coincidence that some of the gals are dying from accidents in their homes, but something just doesn’t add up. These San Francisco gals have lived in the same building for years, with the exception of Sarah the medical intern, and there have been more accidents than can be explained in the last few months.

As exhausted as Sarah is, she is determined to help her newfound friends. Will she be able to find out who is targeting them before another one dies? There are suspects in and around the building. Is she just imagining it or has someone been in her apartment also? What could they possibly have against her since she is new to the building?

The characters drive this cozy. Each of the building residents are unique, some are kind, others painfully honest no matter whose feelings are hurt. There is a biting little dog, a cat who likes cookies and ice cream and an infant mixed in with the cast of Fog Ladies. Each of them adds depth to the story as well as comedy at times. One of them becomes overly fond of Starbuck’s coffees – so much so she will do just about anything to get her daily fix.

The mystery of who is killing the Fog Ladies has many twists and turns. There are several likely suspects, and just when I thought I knew who the killer was there would be a new clue that blew my theory out of the water. To mix things up, there are a few men that live the building. Maybe Sarah has time for something other than work and hunting a murderer – unless one of them is trying to kill her. Overall, this is the perfect cozy mystery with characters that will travel well into the next book of the series as well as the beautiful setting of San Francisco.

This is the first book I have read by Susan McCormick. She has also written a children’s picture book entitled Granny Can’t Remember Me. It helps children cope with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. I am looking forward to the next adventures of the Fog Ladies.

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 © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Takes One To Know One – Nail Biting Thriller

Takes One to Know One

By Susan Isaacs

Corie Geller never imagined the turn her life would take. As an FBI Special Agent, she has done things most people believe only happens in spy novels and blockbuster movies. Now her life revolves around her husband, Federal Judge Josh Geller and her young step-daughter, Eliza. Corie, fluent in Arabic, is now a freelancer for several publishers. She reads Arabic novels and makes recommendations as to which would translate and sell in English. She does the occasional job for the FBI, but keeps that life separate from her personal life as much as possible to keep her husband and step-daughter safe.

On a whim, she joins a group of suburban self-employed people that meet once a week for lunch. Thinking it would be stimulating, Corie soon learns that she does not really fit in well, but can’t really figure out how to leave the group. Then she starts noticing one of the members, Pete Delaney acting extremely strange. He is nondescript, but there is something about him that Corie senses is off. Is he an agent like her? Or is there something illegal going on?

She begins taking more notice of him. After finding out from another in the group that he has been seen acting oddly aggressive outside of the group, she quietly begins investigating him. She shares her thoughts with her father, a retired NYPD detective who agrees there is something going on.

Is he a drug runner? Is he an illegal arms dealer? Perhaps a kidnapper or killer – or just a boring guy who has anger issues? Corie is bound and determined to find out.

Acclaimed author Susan Isaacs has done it again. This page turner has mystery, intrigue and believable characters. The heart pounding action will not allow you to put it down. I particularly like the fact that the final confrontation was not the end of the book. Oftentimes books end with only a page or two of closure, but Isaacs gives readers a thorough ending that ties up loose ends. I really like that I am not left wondering what happened.

I highly recommend Takes One to Know One to all mystery and thriller lovers. Isaac’s never disappoints, she once again has written a fabulously intriguing book and with interesting characters.

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 © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Cut and Assemble Santa’s Workshop – Christmas is Just Around the Corner

Cut and Assemble Santa’s Workshop

By: Matt Bergstrom

Fresh from the creative mind of Matt Bergstrom’s is an adorable, easy to make Santa’s Workshop. You may have seen his three-story Haunted House for Halloween. Coupled with his new Santa’s Workshop, you will have a pair of decorations that will be enjoyed for years to come.

Adults and teens can easily follow the step-by-step illustrated instructions. As always, read through them before starting the project. With simple tools; such as a hobby knife, scissors, ruler, dowel and craft glue. Tweezers might be handy for the smaller pieces. But don’t think it is only for adults, school age children will love to rearrange the reindeer, elves, gifts and Christmas tree.

With the high cost of Christmas decorations, Cut and Assemble Santa’s Workshop is an affordable breath of fresh air. You will enjoy the time spent with your older children and teens creating the colorful workshop, as well as the compliments from your holiday guests. Reminiscent of paper dolls, this craft book will bring a bit of nostalgia to your holidays.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Magical Unicorn Christmas Activity Book – Great Gift Idea

Magical Unicorn Christmas Activity Book

Illustrated By: Sam Loman

If you have a youngster in your life obsessed with unicorns, this is the perfect, inexpensive gift. It is not the amount of money spent, it is about the hours of enjoyment he or she will have completing the fun activities on each page.

From word searches to make your own Christmas Cards everyone’s favorite activities are included. There are over 80 pages ranging from coloring a scene in a Christmas ballet to word search puzzles, there is fun on every page.

One of my absolute favorites are Christmas Creations on page 44. This activity has a picture of Candy and Snowy, two unicorns with a brief bio. On the corresponding page, your child can create his or her own unicorn, complete with name and which super power it has. Unleashed creativity is always something to encourage. Other pages also encourage creativity such as making up a song and a secret list of things you want to make for friends and family.

This book is appropriate for children from kindergarten and up. It includes activities that require reading and writing simple words. The Magical Unicorn Christmas Activity Book will entertain and delight the youngster in your life and spark their imagination. You may want to give it to them in early December to enjoy it throughout the season.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Copper and Goldie – Cozy Collection of Hawaiian Short Stories

Copper and Goldie

13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawaii

By Rosemary and Larry Mild

The dynamic duo of Hawaiian cozies is back with thirteen short stories featuring ex-cop Sam Naho. The detective sergeant gets injured in the first of these stories. This turns his life upside down. He no longer has the job he loved or the woman he still loves. But Sam makes the best of his bad situation. Sam’s wife and child still mean the world to him and thankfully they are still in his life.

He becomes a cab driver along with his sidekick, Goldie. She is a beautiful, bright golden retriever that becomes his partner in solving the crimes that seemingly find the two of them. Becoming a Private Investigator is the next logical step for the Copper and Goldie.

These short stories are a progression of Sam’s life. The first is about his injury, the second is about his life as a new cabbie. While cohesive, as well as moving forward similar to a novel, they are definitely short stories. These snippets of life and crimes are quick and easy to read.

Like cozy mysteries, there is a small amount of blood shed and a little bit of violence that isn’t graphic. The mysteries are fun to try and solve before the end of the stories. And for the romantics there is the eternal hope that Sam and his family will someday be reunited.

Each of these short stories can be read quickly and easily. I recommend taking it along with you while waiting for your kids to get out of school or other activities, while waiting for appointments or a quick read before bed. Or you can be like me and read “just one more story” until you find you have finished the book in 24 hours. Either way, the characters, including the adorable Goldie, will capture your heart as fast as Sam catches the bad guys in each short story.

This is the third book I’ve read by Rosemary and Larry Mild. Of their many published books I’ve read Honolulu Heat and Death Steals a Holy Book. Both are delightful cozy mysteries that fans of the genre will love. Grab Copper and Goldie and cozy up with characters you will adore and enjoy your trip to the Hawaiian Islands via these two entertaining authors.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

 

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Book Review: Trace of Evil – Must Read Thriller

Trace of Evil

By Alice Blanchard

As the daughter of a police officer as well as the only woman detective in the department, Natalie Lockhart has to prove herself every day. The tiny town of Burning Lake, New York is renowned for killing three young women in 1712, so called witches, that were obviously innocent. Now the town celebrates the tragic deaths every fall by cashing in on everything occult. There are magic notions and potions to purchase at the gift shops and plenty of tourists to snatch them up. But there is a dark side to this tiny town.

Many of the residents, especially teens, dabble in the occult, join covens and practice their spells. Back in her youth, Natalie was once a member of a coven. But she left that far behind. Most of the covens are harmless, but some, just like some people, are pure evil. Oddly enough, in this small town there have been nine seemingly random disappearances over the past few years, and Natalie is given the task to find a common thread among them or at least solve on or two.

After suffering the loss of her sister to a violent crime as a child, Natalie takes working these cold case files seriously. But she is pulled from the cold cases and thrust into a shocking murder scene. As fate would have it, Daisy, another person that Natalie has known all her life, has been murdered. The suspect is in a coma, and things are just not adding up. Secrets held close by Daisy are unearthed. Was the killer someone Daisy knew? Maybe the little town known for burning witches over a century ago has a serial killer with a vendetta on the loose. Either way, Natalie will not stop until he or she is found and brought to justice – but at what cost?

This fast-paced thriller is impossible to put down. Ms. Blanchard’s storytelling pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until the shattering last pages. The characters come to life making you love or hate them, furiously reading so you can see what happens next. Delving into the past to save todays would be victims, Natalie takes you on her journey, feeding us clues and conclusions as they reveal themselves.

This is the first book by award winning author Alice Blanchard that I have read, but will not be the last. Trace of Evil will be available in December 2019, so put it on your Christmas list now. In the meantime, check out her other books, she has several that I can’t wait to add to read.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Bookish First in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

https://www.bookishfirst.com/books/trace-of-evil/reviews/must-read-for-thriller-fans

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Book Review: Dark Oceans – Modern Day Search for an Ancient Relic

Dark Oceans

Or The Geometry of Chance

By Mark Macrossan

Thrust into the world of espionage, murder and mayhem, the spectrum of characters in Dark Oceans are all linked together, albeit tenuously. The common denominator is an ancient artifact, the Isfahan Decagon. It is famed to be the only one of its kind. The Decagon has perfect tiling with a perfect golden ratio. Not only that, the Decagon is said to have an infinite non-repeating pattern that surpasses anything created today, therefore making it the Holy Grail of collectors and museums around the world. It has been missing since at least the 1800’s. It may have been in a ship wreck, but has ties to Portugal, Western Australia as well as the English.

So begins the quest to find it. Dark Oceans takes the reader around the world in the search. The race to find the Decagon includes characters on land, sea and air, doing anything within their power to be the first to grab the prize.

Among the characters that are searching for the Decagon, are thieves, murders, organized crime minions and a few in law enforcement. It is difficult to tell who is good and who is bad until the end when all is revealed to the reader. My favorite characters are Jon and Alistair. Jon is a barrister who has had a windfall of a massive amount of cash. It appeared in his account without reason. He slowly begins to spend the money, but soon finds himself to be very unlucky. Or someone is trying to kill him. He is rescued by his quirky neighbor, Alistair and his cat. But they can’t keep Jon safe if he doesn’t stop jumping into dangerous situations far out of his league.

This fast paced thriller has more twists and turns and characters coming and going than summertime crowds at an amusement park. That is if the attendees of said amusement park allowed fire arms, garrotes and objects to bludgeon anyone that hops in line in front of them. At times it was confusing due to the sheer number of characters – most of them evil – that are weaving in and out of the story.

It is the first book by Macrossan that I have read. He is a playwright, short story and poetry writer. Formerly a barrister as well as a theater producer and film extra, he has traveled the world to gather fodder for his novel. Dark Oceans is his first.

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 © 2019 Laura Hartman

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