Thursday, June 4, 2020

A Solid Sequel - The Secrets of Bones

TITLE: The Secrets of Bones (Jazz Ramsey #2)
AUTHOR: Kylie Logan
PUBLISHER: Minotaur Books
PUBLISHING DATE: May 5, 2020


FROM GOODREADS: 

Second in a new series from national bestselling author Kylie Logan, The Secrets of Bones is a riveting mystery following Jazz Ramsey as she trains a cadaver dog. 

Assembly Day at St. Catherine's dawns bright and cloudless as professional woman gather from all around Ohio to talk to the schoolgirls about their careers in medicine, at NASA, and as yoga instructors. Administrative assistant Jazz Ramsey is involved herself, giving the girls a taste of her lifelong passion: cadaver dog training. Her adorable new puppy Wally hasn't been certified yet, so she borrows the fully-trained Gus from a friend and hides a few bones in the unused fourth floor of the school for him to find.

The girls are impressed when Gus easily finds the first bone, but for the second Gus seems to have lost the scent, and heads confidently to a part of the floor where Jazz is sure no bones are hidden—at least not any that she's put there. But Gus is a professional, and sure enough, behind a door that shouldn't have been opened in decades, is a human skeleton.

Jazz recognizes the skeleton as Bernadette Quinn, an ex-teacher at the school who'd never returned after one Christmas break, though letters and postcards from her had seemed to indicate there was no cause for worry. But now it seems Bernadette never left the school at all, and her hiding place makes it clear: this was murder.

Bernadette's strident personality means there are a plethora of suspects inside the school and out of it, and as Jazz gets closer to the truth she can't help but wonder if someone might be dogging her footsteps . . .  


MY THOUGHTS: I read the first book in this series last year and was really excited to get my hand's on the sequel.  I was looking forward to learning more about Jazz and getting to know her new cadaver dog in training, Wally.

This installment opens with an assembly day at the Catholic school where Jazz is employed.  A sudden guest cancellation leads Jazz to do an presentation with her cadaver puppy, Wally and a friend's trained dog, Gus.  The presentation is set to take place in the school attic for lack of a better space, and no one suspected that Gus would find an actual decayed body.

So basically we learn that about three years back, one of the teacher's Bernadette Quinn, left under special circumstances and she always wore the cross found on the body.  The police immediately start to suspect Jazz's boss, but Jazz knows that isn't possible.  She she decides to do some of her own detective work to save her boss and find out what really happened to Bernadette.

Now I have to say, while I find this series really enjoyable, I also think it could be described as a cozy series disguised as a procedural novel.  There's really very little about the actual work done with cadaver dogs and I kind of find myself wanting more.  I do enjoy all the characters and can say that in the first book, I was concerns with Jazz's relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Nick.  This book delves into that some more and I'm much more comfortable with where things are heading.  The mystery was satisfying although in the last 20% of the book I was able to see where the resolution was headed.  It did't quell my enjoyment of the story though.

If you are a fan of cozy mysteries, especially ones featuring dogs, then I would recommend this series.  I'm curious to see what the next book brings and hope it delves more into Jazz's father's death, as it has been eluded that there may be something mysterious behind it.

RATING: 4 PAWS

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Can't Wait Wednesday (274)


Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings to spotlight highly anticipated books.  It is based on the Waiting on Wednesday meme which used to be hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.





FROM GOODREADS: A lone witch has powers. A coven has a multitude more.

New girl and secret witchl Iris just wants to get through her first day of school without a panic attack. The last thing she expects is to be taken in by a coven of three witches-soft-spoken Greta, thoughtful and musical Ridley, and fiery and spirited Binx. They may be the first witches Iris has met IRL, but their coven is not alone in their small northwestern town.

The Triad is the other coven at their school. When the Triad's not using spells to punish their exes or break up happy couples for fun, they practice dark magic. The two covens have a rivalry stretching all the way back to junior high.

When tragedy strikes and one of their own is murdered, the rival covens must band together to find out who is responsible before it's too late. Someone's anti-witch ideology has turned deadly . . . and one of them is next.

With an inclusive cast of teen witches who leap off the page with style, attitude, and charm, B*Witch is a singable read perfect for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Mean Girls alike.

WHY I CAN'T WAIT:  I'm always up for something witchy and this one just sounds like fun. 

CASSIUS'S PICK:


FROM GOODREADS: Move over, Betty and Veronica this is Daphne and Velma like you've never seen before! This dark new series of YA novels is a spine-tingling twist on the classic girl detectives from Scooby-Doo.

Despite their differences, Daphne and Velma were able to solve the mystery of The Vanishing Girl. But there are a lot of secrets buried in the town of Crystal Cove. And the biggest case of all still remains unsolved... why did the town's original settlers all disappear? What happened to them?

Velma is determined to find out... especially because her family's ancestors were among the disappeared. And now that she and Daphne have started to get a reputation for solving mysteries, everyone in town is looking to them for answers.

But digging up the past can be dangerous... especially when some people in town have profited from the mystery for so long. Can these two intrepid teen detectives crack the case... and escape with their lives?

WHY CASSIUS CAN'T WAIT:  So Mom hasn't even read the first one in this series yet and she needs to because "SCOOBY SCOOBY DOO!  WHERE ARE YOU!" She needs to let me know if he's in this series or not.  I love Scooby...speaking of, I'm off to get some Scooby Snacks!

WHAT BOOK CAN'T YOU WAIT FOR THIS WEEK???

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday - Books Which Would Make Perfect Summer Reads

The top 10 weekly meme used to be hosted by The Broke and the Bookish they  handed over the reins to ThatArtsyReaderGirl who can be found HERE.  Each week she will focus on lists which cover various topics related to books and reading.

This week I'm sharing with you books I've read which I think would maker perfect summer reads.

UNTIL SUMMER COMES AROUND - This was a very recent read and everything about it screams Summer!

NI JUDGMENTS - This book is set in the middle of a hurricane so yep, it has a summer feel.

CAMPFIRE - I had tons of fun with this book and doesn't every summer needs a slasher/camping tale?

SMOTHERED - This was a Goodreads win and it was such a fun read.  The MC has just graduated college and has to enter the real world.  Nothing like that summer after college for a rude awakening.

ABOUT A DOG - Nothing says summer like romance and dogs.

So I'm leaving it at five this week because honestly, for someone who reads a lot of horror/thrillers, I am finding this kind of difficult.

Have you read any of these books or better yet, can you recommend any great summer horror reads?

Monday, June 1, 2020

May Down For the Count!


For some reason it doesn't feel like I read much in May but I know I read plenty.  I think it's because I had bouts where I read a lot for a few days, then took a few days off, then picked up again.  Guess I was kind of binge reading huh?  So let's see how I REALLY did.

My Lies, Your Lies: Susan Lewis (4/5)
Goldilocks: Laura Lam (5/5)
Soulless: Gail Carriger (4/5)
This Is How I Lied: Heather Gudenkauf (5/5)
Sabrina: Daughter of Chaos (4/5)
Sister Dear: Hannah Mary McKinnon (4/5)
Until Summer Comes Around: Glenn Rolfe (5/5)
(S)Witchboard: Andrew Post (4/5)
And Then There Were None: Agatha Christie (5/5)
The Secret of Bones: Kylie Logan (4/5) - Review pending
Just Friends: Holly McCulloch (4/5) - Review pending

So overall not too shabby.  I have to say that Until Summer Come Around was probably my favorite but I read a heck of a lot of books I enjoyed this month and even roamed out of my comfort zone with a romance and a science fiction title.  

How did you do in May???



Sunday, May 31, 2020

Sister Dear Blog Tour


TITLE: Sister Dear
AUTHOR: Hanna Mary McKinnon
PUBLISHER: MIRA
PUBLISHING DATE: May 26, 2020


FROM GOODREADS: 

Beauty. Wealth. Success. 

She’s got it all. 

And it all should’ve been mine. 

When Eleanor Hardwicke’s beloved father dies, her world is further shattered by a gut-wrenching secret: the man she’s grieving isn’t really her dad. Eleanor was the product of an affair and her biological father is still out there, living blissfully with the family he chose. With her personal life spiraling, a desperate Eleanor seeks him out, leading her to uncover another branch on her family tree—an infuriatingly enviable half sister. 

Perfectly perfect Victoria has everything Eleanor could ever dream of. Loving childhood, luxury home, devoted husband. All of it stolen from Eleanor, who plans to take it back. After all, good sisters are supposed to share. And quiet little Eleanor has been waiting far too long for her turn to play. 


MY THOUGHTS:
I'll be honest, for a while in the beginning, I was questioning how Dear Sister was classified as a thriller.  I found it a solid story but a tad slow-paced.  However, the ending!  I've read a lot of thrillers this year and love to theorize about what is going on and this is one ending I never saw coming at all. 

The book is told from Eleanor Hardwicke's perspective.  Early on we see her father, whom she dearly loves, pass away.  Because of the circumstances around the death, Eleanor is particularly hard on herself.  In addition, while on his deathbed, Eleanor overhears a horrible secret between her father and mother - she is the product of an affair and the man she loves more than the world itself isn't her biological father.  After this occurs, we then begin to learn a lot about Eleanor including that she has never been accepted,and one might say even liked, by her mother and sister and that she has extremely low self esteem.  We also see Eleanor start to grapple about what to do with her new knowledge, contact her father or leave him alone.  However, her desire for a family wins.

I have to say that I went through ups and downs with the majority of the characters. At times I found Elearnor endearing and I was really cheering her on, and during other times I thought she was acting psychologically unhinged.  One this is for sure, Eleanor's mother and biological father are both despicable people and I can totally see why they hooked up.  They had to see themselves in each other.

I have to admit that I actually liked Victoria a tad bit more.  She didn't initially come across as the spoiled brat that she should have been given her upbringing and I desperately hoped for a happy ending for her and her half sister.

But as I eluded, this is a thriller so you'll just have to pick it up to see if I my wish came true.

Many thanks to the author and publisher for my review copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.


RATING: 4 PAWS



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing, and is now the author of The Neighbors and Her Secret Son. She lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons, and is delighted by her twenty-second commute.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Flame Tree Press Blog Tour - Until Summer Comes Around


When Anne Cater from Random Things Tours reached out to me about this book, I thought it sounded like a perfect read to get ready for summer.  Man, I had no idea how perfect it was!

TITLE: Until Summer Comes Around
AUTHOR: Glenn Rolfe
PUBLISHER: Flame Tree Press
PUBLISHING DATE: May 21, 2020


FROM GOODREADS: 

When fifteen year old Rocky Zukas meets a mysterious dark-haired girl named November, his world is forever changed. The young couple falls under the spell of summer love, but not everyone approves. November's brother, Gabriel, is the keeper of the family's secret, and big brother is always watching, growing more sinister as his bloodlust gets the best of him. Directing his attention to Rocky's family, Gabriel aims to make sure little sister knows who is in charge. 


MY THOUGHTS:
Even when I rate a book 5/5, very rarely do I feel it was a perfect book.  And perhaps I just picked this one up at the right time, or perhaps some elements spoke to me more than they would others, but honestly, I feel Until Summer Comes Around is as close to perfect as it gets.

The story takes place in a coastal tourist town, complete with a boardwalk, arcade and carnival rides.  Each summer the town in inundated with visitors and this year, which just happens to be in the early 80's, is no different.  Rocky wants nothing more than to spend the summer getting his driver's permit and hanging out when friends and family.  But then Rocky meets November and his world stops.  Rocky is clearly headed for his first love but will this love end is tragedy?  November is vacationing with her mother and brother, Gabriel and November holds a secret of her own, one that may tear the whole town apart.

As I mentioned, this book takes place in the 80's which just happens to be near and dear to my heart.  It is complete with pop culture references such as Van Hagar (those of you that were there will understand the name) and Europe.  I also happened to love so many of the characters.  Rocky is bordering on becoming an adult but is still in the awkward teen phase.  I loved the family dynamic in the book.  Rocky's mom and dad were protective, but not smothering.  His older sister was sometimes annoying, but also was one of Rocky's closest pals.  Then you had November who wants nothing more than to have a normal summer without Gabriel ruining it for her.  Which brings me to Gabriel.  Gabriel is everything I want a monster to be.  Ugly and ruthless and not afraid to get his hands, or in this case his teeth, dirty.  There's no glamorous side to Gabriel and I'm grateful for that.

So while I kind of want to shy away from the comparison, I am going to go there.  Until Summer Comes Around has a STRONG Lost Boys vibe.  Which in the end, was fine with me.  No the story is not the same, but a lot of similar elements are there.  And for a child of the 80's who absolutely loved The Lost Boys (and yes, Keifer in all his badness was my favorite character), it's easy to see what this novel spoke to me so much.  If you are looking for a great summer horror read, look no further.  And while there is a romantic element between Rocky and November, don't let that scare you away.  It's the sweet first-love, coming-of-age kind of romance and not the insta-love, all in you face type of romance.  I will definitely be reading more from this author in the future.

Also, I have to say that even though it was already a 5/5 read for me, the author gets extra points for having Rocky listen to the Purple Rain soundtrack when his heart was breaking.  Go Prince!

RATING: 5 PAWS



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Glenn Rolfe is an author/singer/songwriter from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University,and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King, Ronald Malfi, Jack Ketchum,and many others. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness. He is a Splatterpunk Award nominee and the author of The Window, Becoming, Blood and Rain, The Haunted Halls, Chasing Ghosts, Abram's Bridge, Things We Fear, Boom Town,and the collections, Slush and Land of Bones. He is hard at work on many more. Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

2 Bloggers 1 Book - And Then There Were None



So this month Stormi and I decided to tackle a classic. I've always wanted to read an Agatha Christie novel and I do believe the one Stormi picked is one of this author's best. So read on for my thoughts and then go check out Stormi's at Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!


TITLE: And Then There Were None
AUTHOR: Agatha Christie
PUBLISHER: Harper
PUBLISHING DATE: November 6, 1939


FROM GOODREADS: 

First, there were ten—a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a little private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they're unwilling to reveal—and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. A famous nursery rhyme is framed and hung in every room of the mansion.

When they realize that murders are occurring as described in the rhyme, terror mounts. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. Who has choreographed this dastardly scheme? And who will be left to tell the tale? Only the dead are above suspicion.  


MY THOUGHTS: This mystery was just so much fun to read and I can see why so many people love it.  I thought being an older work I might find it difficult to get in to, but that wasn't the case.
As mentioned, ten individuals meet up as they have all been invited to vacation on a private island.  They have all been brought together under different pretenses but they soon discover there may be an underlying reason they were all brought together.

First of all, I do believe this is one of the first "closed-circle mysteries" and I can fully understand why it's such a classic.  One by one each person falls prey to some kind of demise, leaving the remaining individuals to try to figure out what is going on before another one bites the dust.  A storm is brewing and there is no way off the island.  As the book unfolds, the tension grows and toward the end, I couldn't wait to see how everything played out. I can't say I was ever really attached to any of the characters but it didn't matter.  They all played a part and they all served a purpose.  And at the end of the book, I couldn't have been more pleased, and I admit, somewhat shocked, at the resolution.

I can now see what people mean when other books are now compared to this classic.  And it's nice to now have my own frame of reference.  If, like me, you're one of the last people to pick this book up, then I suggest you do.  I doubt you'll be disappointed, especially if you are a mystery lover.

I also have to add a side note.  I had this book borrowed off of Hoopla but something happened and it disappeared off their site.  So that left me scrambling since none were available on Overdrive. I ended up grabbing a discounted version off of Amazon (not the one pictured above) and man, the formatting was horrible.  I don't know what was going on but it really did damper my enjoyment of the book and I found myself putting it down out of frustration and not because I didn't like the book.  My rating does not reflect this frustration because it wasn't the book's fault, but I did want to mention it because I wish I had caved and bought another edition.

RATING: 5 PAWS