Book Review – Cozy Mystery

I don’t usually read books on Kindle, but Adventures of a Vegan Vamp by Cate Lawley was a free download and it sounded interesting. The book turned out to be a fun read and kept me entertained from beginning to end. I posted a 5-star rating on Amazon, although it was closer to 4.5 stars. The beginning is a little repetitive, but the rest of the story flows well. 

It tells the story of Mallory, a mid-thirties workaholic who doesn’t seem very happy with life, although she has a job, home, and car she likes. She doesn’t feel that her co-workers like her, but she doesn’t seem to make a huge effort to like them either. Despite the lack of friendliness at work, they occasionally go out to a bar for drinks–it seems Mallory is invited because she picks up the tab.

Following a vampire attack, she’s thrown into a world she didn’t know existed and is forced to change her lifestyle. She doesn’t do it very gracefully, but hangry and undead wouldn’t sit well with most people. Mallory meets other supernatural beings who help her adjust to her new life. They not only encourage her to find the rogue vampire but provide assistance. Lawley makes the secondary characters come to life. Alex (possibly a wizard) is especially interesting. He is very secretive about his background throughout the story, which made me want to know more about him.

Without giving away too much, Mallory ends the story happier than she started, except for the fact she can’t eat meat or dairy. I didn’t find it to be a cliffhanger, despite what some other reviewers posted. The mystery was completely wrapped up, and a new story was hinted at in the end. There are eight books in the Vegan Vamp series, but Cate Lawley has several other series that also seem like fun reads.

Book Review – Support an Indie

Duckett & Dyer – Dicks for Hire by G.M. Nair is a fast-paced, action adventure, humorous novel. I literally laughed out loud at the antics of Michael Duckett and Stephanie Dyer. The lifelong friends are likeable average joes. The anxiety-ridden Michael works at a “soul-crushing” job and has forever been dragged into the schemes of the carefree and careless Stephanie who can’t hold a job and makes a permanent indention on their sofa.

From the Garbagemobile that he drives to the makeshift air vent of his dilapidated apartment, Michael is ready for a life changing event, and he gets more than he bargained for in this book. Stephanie is a lazy, flighty dingbat—or so you would believe. She is full of surprises as Michael finds out after twenty years. The scene with her breadstick guy at the Italian restaurant was hilarious.

Without spilling too much, the pair get roped into becoming private investigators not only to get money that they desperately need but to find a missing person—or two. Although Michael believes it’s a bad idea because “you know what happens to PIs, you don’t see them around anymore.” Stephanie convinces him otherwise. “Even better. So there’s literally no competition.”

Matteo Carrera and Detective Rex Calhoun are more interesting characters whose paths weave around Michael and Stephanie’s in this universe and several other creative and hysterical universes. The end of the book will give you some “ah-ha” moments. It reminds me of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban where Hermione could time travel. You get the full picture at the end.

Loved the book and will get book 2!

Recent Reads

In a previous post “What Am I Reading,” I mentioned several book series that I’d started. Here is an update on some books I’ve read since that post.

Fit Girls Cozy Mysteries by Ann Audree

So far, there are four books in the series with more to come: Exercise is Murder, Weddings are Murder, Pet Shows are Murder, Train Trips are Murder. The cozy mysteries are short reads around 100 pages, which I enjoy, and well-written. Each book is full of twists and kept me guessing who dunnit.

The books center around fitness trainer Paisley Summerhill and her friend Ellie Cruz, whose brother is Paisley’s ex-fiancé. The pair stumble onto a murder in each book and take up sleuthing to solve the crimes.

This is the link to visit Ann Audree’s Amazon page.

The Cainsville Series by Kelley Armstrong

I finished reading all five books in the adult modern gothic series and enjoyed them immensely. The series centers around Olivia Taylor Jones, a young socialite in Chicago who seems to have a “perfect” life. Her world is turned upside-down when she finds out she is adopted and that her real parents are in jail, sentenced as serial killers. The skeletons in the closet keep tumbling out, and Olivia searches for the truth and true happiness.

This is the link to Kelley Armstrong’s author page.

I read the first book in Armstrong’s Otherworld series titled Bitten. Although it is a good book, it didn’t draw me into reading more as the Cainsville series.

Still Life by Louise Penny

This book is one of Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache mysteries. Several of my friends have read all the books in the series. I enjoyed Still Life, although I stumbled through the first couple of chapters. A bonus was that I could not figure out who the murderer was. The plot had many twists and a slew of suspects. That being said, I didn’t continue with the series.

This is the link to Louise Penny’s author page.

The Secret Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams

I was on a cozy mystery kick and decided to read a couple of Ellery Adams’s books on a friend’s recommendation.

The Secret Book & Scone Society was a nice surprise. The main characters are four women, all with secrets in their past. When a murder happens in their quaint town to an acquaintance, the book and scone group gets involved to solve the case.

Murder in the Mystery Suite is the first book in another of Adam’s series, the Book Retreat mysteries. I enjoyed the book, although not as much as The Secret Book & Scone Society. This is the link to Ellery Adams author page.

I’m searching for a new series to try. If you have any recommendations, please leave a comment.

Still Searching…

A few months back, I posted a “Sock Balls and Other Stuff” post, showcasing some pet peeves. One of the gems that made my list is the printing, or rather bad printing, of expiration dates on food packaging. It baffles me even more when the dates are unreadable on medicine containers.

Example one is a perfect expiration date. Contrasting colors in a large print.

Example two is also clear—white text on a brown lid. However, the same white text is used on the light blue lid. That doesn’t work.

When companies clearly state to “use by the expiration date,” they should make sure their consumers can actually find and read that date. Don’t you think?

I’ve covered the stamp-on dates before. They suck. Companies spend a lot on marketing, have your marketing team work on date placement, please and thank you.

Once again, if I can’t find or read the date on a product, I will replace it on the shelf and get another product. Expiration dates should be an important part of packaging instead of a last-minute add-on.

Okay, I won’t mention bad packaging again in this blog, but I’d love (maybe) your comments.

Because Everyone Loves a Good FREEbie!

turbo n potde smallIt’s always nice when you watch a movie that you don’t expect to be good and it turns out to be a winner. It’s even better when you watched that movie for free. I’m giving everyone the opportunity to have that “feel good” moment by offering three of my books FREE for download for a limited time. There is a series for everyone of every age.

Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell – (YA/adult) – Horror, Comedy, Adventure – download for FREE on April 7 – April 11, 2020

Review Quote: “In order to enjoy this book you have to enjoy horror, mystery, and romance. I only enjoy one of those genres when its done right and only somewhat enjoy the other two when they are done exceptionally well. That being said, I am surprised to say I had a good time going through this book.”

The Troubled Souls of Goldie Rich: The Zombie Next Door – (YA/safe for Middle Grade) – Adventure, Comedy – download for FREE on April 14 – April 18, 2020.

Review Quote: “As a parent whose always on the look out for safe and fun reads for the kids to read, I cannot say enough about the first book in this series. Lots of action to keep your young readers attention (and their parents.. *coughing* I loved it) and also full of lots of places to giggle!”

Pirates Off the Deep End – (Middle Grade/Safe for Adult) – Adventure, Comedy – download for FREE on April 21 – April 25, 2020.

Review Quote: “This book was very entertaining. At times I felt like I was watching a movie and needed to close one eye to get just only a peek at what was to come. It totally held my interest and was just the right length. Loved the characters! Lot’s of fast moving action!

There you go. Save the date and get free books. Enjoy!

 

 

What Am I Reading?

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Writers are told they will become better writers if they are also readers. While I’m working on my supernatural, new adult novel, The Knight in Tights, and the sequel to my supernatural YA/new adult sequel to Reno Red, I’m also reading…and listening.

I’m listening to an awesome podcast of a YA drama, Lyric Mother of a Faery Tale. The podcasts will be approximately 15 minutes each—perfect to listen to on the exercise bike, treadmill or anywhere really.

I highly recommend it. Click HERE for the link.

This is Lyrics summary:

Lyric is a 16-part YA audio drama about Ashley Scott, a college student whose life is magically transformed when her family legacy falls on her young shoulders. She planned to survive the summer working odd jobs around Eden College campus, but when mystical beings and reality collide, she’ll settle for keeping her sanity.

Besides the podcast, I have been reading, too. I like paper vs. tablet. Call me crazy.

I just finished Kelley Armstrong’s Visions book 2 in the Cainsville series. I loved Omens book 1, and book 2 is even better. I will be starting Deceptions book 3, soon. The Cainsville series is adult modern Gothic.

I also just finished Hear the Wind Sing (100 pages), and the second book of the trilogy Pinball, 1973 (135 pages) by Haruki Murakami. I don’t know how to describe the works, kind of like the Seinfeld show that was “about nothing,” but the books held my interest—and isn’t that what books are supposed to do.

Next up, Louise Penny’s Still Life, a Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery. Her series was recommended to me by a friend who read it in her book club.

I recommend any books/podcasts above. Please share what you have been reading. I’d be interested to find more good series.

Sock Balls and Other Stuff

Most people may make a list of resolutions—that’s boring, and in most cases, useless. This is a list of things I’ll never understand. Maybe you can relate. If so, leave some feedback—it’s free.

The “Just Why?” List

Sock balls.

Sock Ball message

Floating soap. Ewww and why?

Floating Soap

Empty toilet rolls. Apparently, nobody wants to risk it.

Toilet paper sign

Tags in a tagless society. These jeans practically had a book inside. By this point, just include an instruction manual.

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Hard to read or non-existent expire dates on food. If I can’t read it, I don’t buy it. Here’s a hint for marketing departments:

  • Black on blue or red is hard to read.
  • Imprinted dates on foil get crushed and ruined.
  • Dates stamped on plastic bottles smear.
  • Stamping dates in black ink over black writing is ridiculous.

RETHINK YOUR PACKAGING. Please and thank you.

Expire date

Dog owners who don’t pick up dog poop when they walk their dogs. I’ve observed people walk away after watching their dog dump at the park. This is not acceptable. Your dog is embarrassed for you. Some bags are free and even give instructions on how to use it. You can argue that nobody picks up after the geese and coyotes at the park—or bears in a forest—or lions in Africa. Don’t be ridiculous. Your dog, your responsibility.

Dog poop bag

None of this takes rocket science, just common sense. If I did have a New Year’s resolution, the top of the list would probably be to help people get a little more common sense in 2020.

 

Wacky, Weird, Wonderful, and Helpful, too!

 
The Rabbit Hole book cover

What happens when you ask a group of writers to write something weird? The Rabbit Hole: Weird Stories Volume 1. This anthology is a wonderful collection of stories and poems that showcase weirdness.

The best part of The Rabbit Hole is that is will be helpful. A percentage of the sales will help to fund mosquito netting in countries where malaria is a huge problem. A small book at a small price can help to buy a small net to save small children from a small insect. The Against Malaria Foundation provides the nets and the gruesome statistics on malaria.

You don’t need another book? Okay, you have friends, don’t you…and white elephant gifts to buy…stocking stuffers…waiting room material…

The paperback will be released soon on Amazon, but you can buy an electronic copy now.

Enjoy the weirdness, and thank you in advance if you decide to purchase a copy.

Blog Challenge September – Escape

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The Herding Cats & Burning Soup September blog challenge is Escape.

When a weekend away isn’t in the cards, several other activities can make a good escape. Yoga is always a good reboot. An hour of stretching with relaxing music lets me tune everything else out. A couple hours of tennis works, too.

My hubby and I take the dogs for a long walk at the park every morning. It is a relaxing start to our day—an escape of sorts—unless the chiweenie acts like psycho dog. The dogs love the walk as well. Watching the sun rise in the early morning over the large pond at the park is peaceful. The ducks and geese that live there are fun to watch.

Painting and writing are good escapes. Concentrating on a painting or figuring out what to do with characters and putting them in tough situations will take my mind off everything else.

On the flip side to writing a book, reading a book is a good escape. I’m currently reading Vicki Pettersson’s The Scent of Shadows. So far, it’s a good read. I just finished, Kelley Armstong’s Omens and really enjoyed it. I will be reading the rest of that series.

A good movie can be an escape, too. Recently, we watched Game Night with Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams. It has two of my favorite actors in the first place, but it was hysterical. I can’t wait for Game Night Two—I hope they decide to make one.

blog about it challenge

 

 

August Blog Challenge -Beginning

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The Herding Cats & Burning Soup August blog challenge is Beginning. Granted, I’m a bit late, but only by 16 days.

I like new beginnings because most of the time it means starting new, exciting adventures. I started several new beginnings that I’m excited about. Although new beginnings can be challenging, life’s too short to stagnate and feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. At least, that’s my take on it.

I started a new job three months ago, and I love it. It was a long time coming, which makes the job even sweeter. If anyone tells you that age discrimination isn’t real, don’t believe them. In the end, it was a loss for the companies that didn’t hire me, and my gain. I love my job, and they love me there. Win/win.

I also started a new novella. I love writing paranormal, but I decided to go with humor instead of horror mixed with humor. I’m having fun writing the story about Lance and Chartreuse, The Knight in Tights. I also just received a wonderful review of my Dagger & Brimstone series—all three books—by Jazzy Book Reviews

My latest new beginning is getting a kitchen makeover. With the whitewash cabinets and white tile countertops, a makeover was way overdue. I love my new granite countertops, black granite sink, and black faucet. The hard part has been refinishing the cabinets. The Rustoleum Cabinet kit is awesome, but it is a lot of work. We’re halfway through the glazing part and wishing we had just gone with the first part of the kit and skipped the glazing. Seriously, the cabinets look good though.

Finally, I’m looking forward to the second season of my hometown Vegas Golden Knights. GO KNIGHTS GO!

blog about it challenge