Tag Archives: humor

Book Review: K-9 Cop – Fast Paced Mystery for Tweens, YA and Adults

K-9 Cop

The Dreck Report Case #1

By Erna Mueller

When K-9 Lieutenant Spencer Watley is killed in the line of duty, he is surprised to learn he can’t get straight into heaven. He knows he hasn’t been the nicest guy in the world, but come on; he’s spent his life as a cop, putting bad guys behind bars. He soon finds out the he will be going back to earth in body of his K-9 dog, with a mission to help Justin Andrews.

Justin is a young man adrift. Since his mother died, the 14-year-old has had trouble dealing with everyday life. His 16-year-old sister is basically parenting him because his dad has thrown himself into is work and is rarely home. Justin is a brilliant kid, so much so, he has skipped two grades. But this leaves him with few friends and an absent father when he needs support the most. To make matters worse, he is in an accident. Now Justin cannot walk without braces, further ostracizing him from his schoolmates.

When his shaggy guardian angel shows up, Justin can’t believe his dad got him a dog. But soon he realizes that this is no ordinary dog. Justin accidentally happens upon a plot to frame his father for a crime, Spencer will be needed to help put the bad guys away and keep Justin and his family safe.

This fast-paced, action packed novel is great for tweens, YA and adults. It is entertaining and amusing. The clues all lead up to the final scenes where the good guys prevail. Honestly, the entire time I read the last chapters I was picturing this as a movie – think Home Alone where the kid outsmarts the bad guys with hilarious antics – all the while getting the jump on the bad guys and making the readers chuckle and outright laugh.

K-9 Cop is the first in what I can only hope is a long series of adventures featuring Spencer and Justin. I highly recommend this book for kids and grownups alike.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the author. I voluntarily read and reviewed this book.  Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

 

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Book Review: Toxic Octopus – Interestingly Informative Novel Wrapped in Fun

Toxic Octopus

By Lisa Haneberg

Xena Cali is a private investigator. She also owns Paradise Lost Spy Shop on Galveston Island.  Conveniently, she employs Sparky and Dora, the other members of her team. When a member of a local privately funded non-profit organization BARL is murdered Xena and her team are called in after the police determine Fred, a male octopus killed Dr. Jane Moore. Ari, the manager of the cephalopod lab, is sure Fred is not guilty and Xena agrees with him, especially after meeting Fred.

So begins the bizarre investigation including spy cams, Segway Personal Transporters and more danger than Xena could imagine when she agreed to take the case. Soon there is an additional murder that is linked to the case. She will have to use every trick in the book and several of the items she sells in her Spy Shop to catch the real killer and keep herself from being the third victim.

Toxic Octopus is an interestingly informative novel wrapped in fun. I learned more about octopuses than I could have imagined. Yes, the plural of octopus is really octopuses. I also found out that sadly, after mating, the male octopus dies and after laying her eggs the female octopus dies. I also learned all about freerunning, which is also called parkour. Xena practices this art of efficient movement adding ninja like fun to some very dangerous situations.

The plot moves along quickly, building tension until the killer is revealed. One of vehicles carrying the book is the characters’ quick wit and humor. Haneberg made me laugh out loud more than once, especially when Xena gives everyone she meets a different reason for the fashion choice she wears to a gala. There are times when Xena talks directly to the reader, much like the characters in the TV series Scrubs, and it absolutely works.

If you are a fan of Christopher Moore, you will love Toxic Octopus. Haneberg’s style is fun and informative – perfectly balanced with a solid plot and intriguing whodunit. This is the first book in the Spy Shop Mystery Series. The second book, Dead Pelican is available now. I cannot wait to read it.

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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Book Review: Blood on the Chesapeake – Page Turning Mystery

Blood on the Chesapeake

By Randy Overbeck

Darrell Henshaw is new to the Chesapeake Bay area. He needs a new start from the ghosts of his past as well as distance from his former fiancé that apparently thought monogamy was an option, not a requirement of their relationship. Much to his delight, he is hired at the local high school as a history teacher and the football coach. He is settling in just fine until he starts getting the familiar prickling in the hairs on the back of his neck. There are spirits in the school that are not at rest searching him out. He tries to ignore the feelings and strange happenings, but the restless ghost needs Darrell’s help and isn’t going away any time soon.

Meantime, he is really enjoying connecting with the kids in his history class. It isn’t easy, the diverse group doesn’t really like the newcomer and most of them dislike history in general. But Darrell brings a spark of life to the classroom they cannot ignore. By assigning a report that will delve into the local area’s past the students begin to engage, but strangely enough the community and school leaders seem reluctant to participate. Could they be hiding something? Darrell may be flying too close to the flame to notice he might ignite something that cannot be extinguished. And he might die trying.

But Darrell is far from all work and no play. He has found a new friend to hang out with, Al. Also a teacher at the school, Al lightens up the mood by telling bad jokes that make you groan and chuckle. Most of them are rated G so you can tell them to your kids. And then there is Erin. Darrell is not looking for love again, but she has caught his eye and just might be the one to thaw his heart.

Overbeck’s characters are interesting and engaging. Darrell has a bit of OCD going on, reminding me of the Monk series by Lee Goldberg. It is endearing and a bit comical, but the reader will quickly know that Darrell has to wash his hands twice and dry them on precisely three paper towels. His newfound girlfriend Erin, is much more carefree. She is the perfect balance to the baggage Darrell brings into the relationship but she is ready for the challenge. The other character that stands out for me is the medium/lady of the evening, Natalia – I hope to see more of her in the next book in the series.

I loved this paranormal mystery by new author Randy Overback. True to his main character, the events taught to the class about the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are factual, but the places and dates are not per the Author’s note at the beginning of the book. So technically it is a paranormal historical mystery – but whatever box you want to check about this book, be sure to include it on the must read list.

A prolific writer of trade journals and professional texts, Overback’s first novel, Leave No Child Behind is the 2011 Silver Award for Thriller of the Year winner. It would not surprise me one bit to see Blood on the Chesapeake winning awards in the near future also. The title page of Blood on the Chesapeake, adds “The Haunted Shores Mysteries”. Because this is Mr. Overbeck’s first novel in the series, we can assume there will be more to hear from Darrell and Erin in the future. The Chesapeake area is rich in history, therefore, must be rich in ghosts that need their help. I am excited to add this new series to my list of must reads, and recommend picking up your copy today.

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: Lessons From Lucy – This Old Dog Can Teach You New Tricks

Lessons From Lucy

By Dave Barry

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.

Dave Barry is a well-known humorist. He has authored many books, both fiction and non-fiction. His accolades are sung throughout the land and rightly so. He has a Pulitzer Prize, is a NYT Best Selling Author, and even had a sitcom based on a couple of his books. As a columnist his funny takes on life and whatever else was in his head at the time have appeared in over 500 newspapers. Suffice it to be said lots and lots of people think he is funny, and I am certainly one of them.

Lessons from Lucy is a self-help book. Normally I look at self-help books as though the pages are laced with arsenic and leave them on the shelves in the bookstores to die a slow and painful death sad and alone. But I have finally found a self-help book full of useful information that should be read by anyone and everyone. Especially if you are in what poets call the “sunset years”, but Lucy and Barry refer to as getting old. Everyone gets old and this book gives us all great insights to navigate old age with a lot more fun than you might think.

Dogs are basically happy creatures. Barry captures the essence of happiness by studying Lucy’s reactions to situations such as meeting new people (or dogs). Lucy has an open mind about it once she sniffs them out. So should people. Not the sniffing part, but new friends and experiences are so much better than sitting around watching reruns all afternoon. So make some new friends and stay in touch with those you have. It will make you happy.

Be present in the moment is another gem of wisdom. Be happy with who you are with and what you are doing and for goodness sakes put down that cell phone and actually have a conversation. See? Lucy is brilliant and she has a happy life because of her willingness to be happy where she is and with whom she is with.

Each lesson is relatable and will stick with you, such as dealing with anger. Lucy gets mad at the garbage man, and then lets it go. People get mad and let it simmer all day, telling everyone about the horrible thing someone else did or did not do. Who doesn’t yell at the guy on his phone in front of you texting at the green light? Does it do any good? Nope, that guy is gonna do what he’s gonna do. Why get your blood pressure to the top of the chart over something you can’t do anything about? Be like Lucy and let it go.

Barry might be a grumpy old man (his assessment, not mine) but he is still one of the funniest writers I have ever read. His take on life will leave you thinking about it long after you have stopped laughing at the hysterical delivery of his message.  As he states, “getting old sucks” but goes on to tell the reader how to make it fun. Really, really fun.

I recommend you grab this book and read it at least once, maybe twice because we all get old and you are going to need this info at some point. I am going to try and not be so grumpy, so opinionated and get out meeting more people and doing more things. I’ll stay connected with my friends and make new ones. Laughing more and living more sounds like the best advice I’ve ever read in a self-help book. I should have known a dog would make me a better human, but it took Dave Barry pointing it out for me to see it.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Bookrevie: Blood and Wisdom – Must Read Debut Thriller

Blood and Wisdom

By Verlin Darrow

Aria Piper and Karl Gatlin go way back. They were both interns at a counseling center over ten years ago. Karl decided he was better at being a private investigator than a counselor. Aria has a private psychotherapy practice and runs a spiritual center. Some have called it a cult, others have called it a religion but those who are adrift in their lives see it as salvation.

Someone starts threatening Aria, so she calls on her old friend Karl to check it out. When a headless dead body shows up on her property, Karl jumps into an investigation that involves much more than he expects.

Bodyguards and global gangsters bump heads and draw guns. Everyone Karl encounters seems to have secrets in their past and deadly problems now. He has to dig deep, using all of his PI and psychotherapy training to find out who the bad guys really are before anyone else dies.

Karl’s part time sidekick is Larry. He is a shared custody dog, and both Karl and his ex-wife love and want him. I wanted Larry. At times I would almost forget he was a dog because he acts just like a human, except most humans don’t bite others to help defend those they love.

Blood and Wisdom is a fast paced thriller with as many twists and turns as Lombard Street. The plot is intriguing. Wrapped around the mystery are the intricate workings of the spiritual center. There are very interesting practices and beliefs that are touched upon. I love learning new things, and this book taught me new things that I wanted to learn more about.

All of the above makes Blood and Wisdom a fantastic read, but wait there is more! Darrow writes spot on descriptions and conversations. He drops in gems such as “If my mind was a magic eight ball, hers was a tilt-a-whirl”. Twelve words tell the reader exactly where these two characters are coming from.

If you are a fan of Tim Dorsey, you will like Verlin Darrow. His humor is very reminiscent of Dorsey, not quite as outlandish, but very amusing. I love the one liners tucked into the story. This is the first book he has written, so snatch it up now so you can say you were one of the first to discover this fabulous new author.

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 © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Gail Force by Robert Lane – Smart, Sassy, Satisfying Suspense

gail-forceThe Gail Force

by Robert Lane

Jake Travis is back, and knee deep in trouble due to a woman. She showed up at his place, the little slice of paradise on the water, disrupting his world with her tears and anger over the murder of her husband. She wants revenge; Jake wants to keep her alive.

Her husband accidentally ran across information that could have made him rich. Instead he decided to take the high road and went to the authorities. They put him and his wife in protective custody, but that ended up deadly for more than one person involved.

Unable to walk away from the puzzle, Jake goes undercover to help the Feds frame the man they think is responsible for the killings. That is when the lines between the good guys, bad guys and double-crossers blur. The job is becoming more deadly each day, as it draws Jake deeper down the rabbit hole.

As he becomes more embedded he finds another damsel in destress. She is either very dangerous or in more trouble than the original client. Jake enjoys champagne, fishing, his best friend Morgan and loves his girlfriend Kathleen. Is he willing to give any of the things he cares about away to save someone that may not need or want saving?

I love Robert Lane’s style. He is a smart, savvy writer that entertains and surprises me every time. The plot lines are solid; he gives the readers all the information without the need for red herrings but with enough twists and turns to keep us guessing. The characters are well developed and multi-layered, making them come alive on the pages.

Lane has given Jake a sense of humor laced with sarcasm that helps break the tension of the plot. This is done masterfully, allowing the reader to take a breath, chuckle and consider the possibilities of the situation. Some of the comments and one-liners are in the middle of deadly situations. Like when Jake thinks to himself, “When did green carpet come back in style? Why?”.

This is the fourth book in the “stand-alone” Jake Travis series. While all of the books feature Jake and his friends, it is still appropriate to call them stand-alone novels as it doesn’t really matter if you have read the previous books to thoroughly enjoy this one. I have read three of the four, and none of them build on previous plots to the point of confusion. Characters have become more developed, and if you choose to read this one first, you will love it.

But if you choose to start at the beginning, add them to your Christmas list. Reading these four books would be the great way to start the New Year. If you can wait that long.

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

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.

 

 

 

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Book Review: Karma’s a Killer – Cozy Mystery Full of Critters and Karma

 

Karma's a KillerKarma’s A Killer
By Tracy Weber
277 pages

Yoga teacher Kate Davidson has her plate full. She owns and teaches classes Serenity Yoga and even though she is successful, owning a business is not a walk in the park. That is why she wonders why she is standing in Seattle’s Green Lake Park getting ready to teach a “Doga” class, which is basically yoga for dogs. It is against her better judgement, but she is willing to look silly to help raise funds for Dogma a local no-kill animal shelter. And her boyfriend Michael organized the event so naturally Kate wants to help make the event fun and profitable.

Right away her Zen is challenged by a group that is protesting the idea of a shelter, especially one with animals other than dogs and cats. An altercation soon has the potential to turn dangerous when the protesters become reckless. During all the mayhem that ensues, someone dies.

Kate finds out the woman arrested is claiming to be her estranged mother, Dharma. She is conflicted over helping the woman that abandoned her, but Kate cannot let an innocent person go to prison for a murder she didn’t commit.

Once again, Kate knows better, but has to jump into an investigation to find the real killer. She enlists the help of Michael, who is a reluctant participant. She assures him all will be well, especially with her protective German Shepherd Bella on the job. But when someone messes with Bella, Kate throws caution out the window to find the perp before someone else is hurt.

This is a perfect cozy mystery. Kate is an entertaining amateur sleuth. She is funny, flawed and loveable. Her past isn’t really pretty, but she doesn’t dwell on it. Her relationship with Michael isn’t always a romp in the park, but true to life. Then there is her pogonophobia, which leads to humorous situations. I love the rest of the characters. A particular favorite of mine is Dale Evans, the goat farming lawyer. He is a hoot and even bakes Bella goat cheese treats.

Karma’s a Killer is the third book in the Downward Dog Mystery Series. I have not read any of the other books in the series, but was not confused or “lost” at any point. I highly suggest this book if you are a fan of cozies, animals and/or are into yoga.

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman
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.


 

 

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Filed under 5K races, Book Review, cozy mystery, Critters, dogs, Karma, Yoga