Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by LAEKAN ZEA KEMP

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet

Meet Penelope Prado who works like crazy at her father’s restaurant. Nacho’s Tacos. It’s a mix between a bar and a great Mexican food place. The entire family works insane hours to support themselves and a lot of people in the community.

Her parents don’t want that life for her. They want her to be a nurse or something stable. So she enrolls in college and pretends to go. Because Pen has her own plans. To take over the restaurant and make it more. Specifically a bakery. She already is known for her food and especially her baking. She adds that secret ingredient only people who love baking can add. Love.

Pen has had demons in her past that have left her feeling unsure of herself and what she controls. When she finally works up the nerve to tell her parents that she hasn’t actually been going to classes. Not once. Because she wants to have the restaurant that her brother is managing.

Pen’s parents are not happy and she doesn’t get the restaurant and she doesn’t get to keep her job. She’s on her own.

Xander came to this country at nine years old. His mother left, his father left and all he has is his grandfather. And fear. Lots of fear. He is undocumented and lives in the shadows, constantly afraid someone will find out.

When he comes to work at the restaurant, he and Pen are instantly interested in each other. They share their deepest secrets and fears. Together they just may be able to save themselves and a lot of other people they love.

This is a YA book and I cried and was saddened by the treatment of immigrants in this story. It’s all true. We see it everyday on the news. This was a beautiful and timely book that I enjoyed very much.

Little, Brown, And Company

HALLOWEEN MURDER PARTY by LESLIE MEIER, LEE HOLLIS, BARBARA ROSS

Halloween Party Murder

Small town traditions are celebrated throughout Maine during the holiday season. But when it comes to Halloween, some people are more than willing to reap a harvest of murder 

Sounds like fun. In this one we get not one, but three short stories in one book. The first one is Halloween Party Murder by Leslie Meier.

Back in Tinker’s Cove, journalist Lucy is suspicious of the newest residents. Ty and Heather Moon bought the Victorian and are planning to bring it back to life. But first, wouldn’t it be great for a haunted house for Halloween? When Heather dies of a drug overdose, Ty becomes a suspect. While Lucy is digging for information about the couple she finds disturbing secrets that may affect the town.

But just when you think you know, you do not. Always a pleasure to read Ms. Meier.

DEATH OF A HALLOWEEN PARTY MONSTER by LEE HOLLIS

Hayley’s Halloween party is in full swing. With everyone wearing their favorite movie monster. What better place than at a costume party to commit murder?

When Boris Candy is found dead, Hayley is going to find out who did this dastardly deed and why.

I do indeed love a costume themed party and throw in a murder and everyone is looking sketchy. Hayley is such a fun character and I loved catching up with her.


SCARED OFF by BARBARA ROSS

It’s Halloween and three teenage girls are having a sleepover. Things are good until a group of older kids decide to hold a party at the house.

When the lady on the third floor is found dead in the yard wearing a sheet, her niece is horrified and scared.

Now Julia needs to find out what happened and how poor Mrs. Zelisko end up in the yard dressed as a ghost!

Always a good time with Ms. Ross!

All together they are a sweet treat for Halloween!

NetGalley/August 31st, 2021 by Kensington Publishing Corporation






MURDER MOST FAIR by ANNA LEE HUBER

Murder Most Fair (Verity Kent, #5)

A Verity Kent Mystery #5

It’s always a treat to catch up with Verity and friends. I love that each book picks up right where the other one left off.

It’s 1919 and Verity has spent November with Sidney relaxing and healing from their last adventure.

Hoping things have settled down with the war over, they look forward to some much needed together time.

Until Verity’s Great Aunt llse shows up with her maid from Germany. The same aunt who aided her in sneaking into Germany during the war. But the war hasn’t been good for Germans. They are turning on anyone who aided the enemy and Aunt llse looks to be in very delicate health. Someone is threatening her and she has returned to England hoping to recover and figure out why she is being targeted.

While the family heads to Verity’s parents in Yorkshire, her aunt is still experiencing hostility and someone may be looking to even the score. Using her Secret Service contacts Verity must find out if this is about aiding deserters or something else all together.

Alas, the ever-present Lord Ardmore is a suspect, because, well he usually is a suspect.

This is one of my favorite Historical Fiction writers. Her characters are strong women and men who respect them.

Well Done!

NetGalley/August 31st, 2021 by Kensington Publishing Corporation



THE REAL VALKYRIE (The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women) by Nancy Marie Brown

The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women

Brown lays to rest the hoary myth that Viking society was ruled by men and celebrates the dramatic lives of female Viking warriors.

In 1889, in Birka, Sweden, a former site of a Viking trading center, archaeologists find a warrior’s burial chamber. With the amount and array of weapons, valuables, horses, this must have been a great Viking warrior.

Imagine the surprise when in 2017, DNA tests revealed that this high-ranking Viking warrior was a woman.

Viking women didn’t hold the keys to the larder and keep the house. Viking women carried weapons. They carry shields into battle next to their male counterparts. They are heroes. Poems are written about them.

Ms. Brown uses science to link Hervor, to the other Viking trading centers and to the entire trade route. She tells a story of Hervor meeting with the likes of Queen Gunnhild, The Red Girl, and Queen Olga. Hervor didn’t live a long life but she packed a lot into it.

There is so much misinformation from writers in an entirely different era than the Vikings. Mostly by men who have relegated women to the hearth. This well- written and well-researched work shake that old perception off. Women held power and as the author imagines what her life would have been like, she brings the valkyries alive.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The history, the “what ifs”, and the research that went into this beautiful work. Being of Norwegian descent it confirms many of the tales I was told as a child by my grandmother. It was a pleasure to read.

NetGalley/ August 31st, 2021

THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB’S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES by GRADY HENDRIX

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.

Well the blurb sounds like an interesting mash up. And it is.

It’s the 90’s and our narrator, Patricia Campbell, has always wanted something more out of life. She gave up her nursing career after marrying a doctor and becoming a mother. But somehow, she isn’t living her best life. The days drag on and her kids are seriously ingrates! Her husband is never home and she just can’t seem to get it together.

Her only lifeline is her book club. A group of other Charleston moms joined by their love of true-crime and suspense.

Slick, Kitty, Maryellen, and the newest, Mrs. Green. I was equal parts frustrated with these ladies and cheering for them. They all have unique personalities and hidden talents.

When Patricia’s elderly neighbor losing her mind and attacks her, biting off an ear, she gets to meet a new man. Doing the good Southern thing, bringing food to the bereaved, she meets James Harris. Sensitive, interesting and new. He makes her feel things.The husbands love him.

Then local children start to go missing and she knows he is involved. No one is listening to her and the husbands are standing with James, who is supposedly making them money on an investment.

Is he a vampire or a serial killer?

Patricia won’t let it go. She digs and digs until she has what she needs, but it may come at an awful cost. She and her book club will face a monster and nothing will be the same again.

I loved these ladies. Seriously, you do not want to mess with a Southern women who has a feeling. And with friends like these, what happens in the South stays in the South.

My mother is born and bred Charleston. This would so be her and her friends. Passing books around and solving crime!

A must-read. A really good Horror book.

A Mudlark’s Treasures, London in Fragments by Ted Sandling

A Mudlark's Treasures: London in Fragments

I read quite a bit of historical fiction set in London. Mudlarks are mentioned quite a bit so I knew it was a name for those treasure seekers along the Thames.

Around the 18th and 19th centuries, there were young boys trying to make a living with the things they found along and in the Thames. Today’s treasure hunters are still there looking for treasures from the past and there are plenty to be found.

,This is the story of one man’s finds. And they are extraordinary! Roman tiles, pottery, coins, pipes and, my favorite, the Frozen Charlotte dolls. Yes they are a bit creepy, but I am fascinated with them.

Looking at the pictures you can almost see the history of London. Who was ruling, who was at war with them? What people wore, common items they used. It’s all a mystery and a treasure hunt.

I loved this little book and passed it along to several historical fiction authors.

Of course here in the USA,we don’t have a river Thames to hunt for treasure, but I was fortunate to live in the south and when my father built his fishing and hunting camp on the banks of the Mississippi, we found out it had been the site of a huge antebellum house which caught fire only weeks after the family moved in. It burned to the ground and was never rebuilt, so with every rain we dug up more treasure. Beautiful pieces of china and pottery. Everyday items and lots of buttons. It instilled in me a lifelong love of treasure hunting.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Is it going to be over soon?

The question we all want an answer to. It seems to just be getting worse. And I have had enough of it.

We have been staying as far away from people as we can. Luckily for us we love being outside. So, we have been kayaking, camping, playing with the horses and on the boat with the grandparents. In the middle of the lake and all four of us vaccinated.

We go to the market early in the morning and get back home. I’m lucky I work from home in the sense that not much has changed for my work schedule.

Hilton is mandating masks for all employees and most are vaccinated as well. But you would not believe what they go through. The Shriners are holding a convention in town and they are all at our hotel. They are also mouthy, drunk, and fighting each other in public. What a shock. I always thought they were good people who cared about health. Wrong. One started yelling at OU Boy about his mask. Telling him it was all a hoax and he should take it off. OU Boy told him they are required to wear it and the man reached out and grabbed his shoulder to take off the mask. Luckily security was right there to escort him off the property. Hilton does not play when it comes to their employees.

Later a fist fight broke out in the bar that ended with one in jail and one sent on his way. Today we were supposed to have multiple softball teams come in but most of them tested positive for Covid at the end of the first week of school so they are now in quarantine at home. Which is very responsible of them.

We have had people yell at us about our masks and we just flip them off and move along.

We just spent four days at the lake. The good thing about having Mondays and Tuesdays off is there was no one there. Even the flies seemed to be socially distancing. It’s sad to have to tell our neighbors that they can’t come in our yard even. But our red state is also ignorant. If I have to hear about God’s will one more time I may throat punch someone.

So that’s my week. How was yours? Is everyone acting crazy where you are? What are you doing to stay safe but not isolated? Give me some ideas !

P

CHASING THE BOOGEYMAN by RICHARD CHIZMAR

Chasing the Boogeyman

It’s summer in 1988 and recent grad, Richard Chizmar returns home. Only it’s not the home he knew. A string of girls go missing and then are found violently murdered.

Suddenly his hometown is full of police, reporters, and the town is scared. A curfew is in effect and information is scarce. But Richard is a journalist and begins digging into the story with a fellow journalist. This is his account of what happened during that time.

I’m going to go against a lot of people here. I was bored and in the end I felt cheated.

NetGalley/Gallery Books August 17th, 2021 by Gallery Books

THE FAMILY PLOT by MEGAN COLLINS

The Family Plot

Author of The Winter Sister and Behind The Red Door is back with another twisty, shocking thriller!

Twenty-six- year-old Dahlia Lighthouse is returning to her family home. A place she hasn’t been back to for years. Taking the ferry across to the island she was raised on with her twin brother Andy and much older siblings, Charlie and Tate. Their father has died and they are all coming home to bury him.

Not that they particularly want to. Raised in a mansion in the woods, the neighbors called it the Murder Mansion. Isolated and home-schooled, Dahlia is unable to get past the terrible things that happened here. Totally unprepared for life and afraid to live.

The mother is obsessed with true crime. The father goes along with it and the four children are brought up on the ABC murders instead of the alphabet. The house is filled with murder memorablilia. The town thinks they are insane. The police chief is suspicious and keeps hanging around. Everything about this place is creepy and just not right.

Dahlia spends all her time trying to find her twin brother who went missing on their sixteenth birthday. Dahlia knows he ran away because of their unnatural home life.

When they are all together there is just something not right with her sister or brother. What are they hiding?

As the handyman digs the grave for the father he is shocked, along with everyone else, to find the bones of Andy. With an ax. Every one of them handles this so differently. Dahlia knows someone killed him and she isn’t going to stop until she knows the truth.

I think you should find out the rest on your own. This was a disturbing story. My favorite kind. The mother was doing murder reenactments and the sister makes dioramas of the victims for Instagram. The brother, well he’s just nuts.

There were so many suspects in this. There is also a sub-plot going on as well. Also about murder. I stayed up way too late reading this. It was worth it!

NetGalley/ August 17, 2021 Atria




THE NOISE by JAMES PATTERSON AND J.D.BARKER

The Noise

IF YOU HEAR IT IT’S TOO LATE!

Close to Mount Hood a group of people are living off -grid and doing just fine. They are self-sufficient and doing well.

Until the day that sixteen-year-old Tennant is checking rabbit traps in the woods with her eight-year-old sister Sophie and they feel a powerful and strange vibration coming out of the forest. Like a tornado. When their father suddenly appears and tosses them into the nearest cellar. But the sound doesn’t stop. It’s horrible and Sophie is bleeding from her ears and rocking back and forth.

And then the army comes in and takes them to the nearest base. Sophie is uncontrollable and seems possessed, mumbling a name over and over. Her temperature is way above normal and she is super strong.

Patterson and Barker writing together is genius. They both know how to crank up the tension and keep you turning the page long after you should be asleep! And of course ,there are lots of puzzles to figure out and theories to test and plenty of people getting killed in the goriest of ways.

Always a pleasure!

NetGalley/ August 16th, 2021, by Little, Brown and Company