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Category: Reviews

Camp So-and-So

Camp So-and-So by Mary McCoy

Camp So-and-So

The letters went out in Mid-February.  There were twenty-five letters, to twenty-five girls.  Each letter invited its recipient to spend a week at Camp So-and-So on a merit scholarship.  All twenty-five girls sent their completed applications to an obscure Appalachian town.

Except the town doesn’t exist, and nobody has ever heard of Camp So-and-So.

Now Cabin 1 wants to beat the rival camp across the lake, home of the perfect beach.

Cabin 2 is being stalked by a murderer.

Cabin 3 is sent off on a magical quest t break a curse.

Cabin 4 has met their soul mates.

And what exactly happened to Cabin 5 anyway?

What Did I Think about Camp So-and-So

Camp So-and-So is book 3/60 of the 60 books I’m attempting to read this year.

It took me a little time to get into it.

The novel is set up weird.  It is set into “Acts” and each “Act” introduces its own cast of characters on a character page.  Its almost like a playbill.

As we “meet” each cabin we get to know its inhabitants to different degrees.  (The poor girls of Cabin 5 don’t even get names!)

Now its one of those books where you are hopping from POV to POV.  This cabin, that cabin, the other cabin and back and forth.  Those can sometimes he hard to follow and keep track, but it was a little easier with this book since each cabin is doing something different.

Now, clearly, this is not your typical Summer Camp book.  There is something wrong, and apparently magical about Camp So-and-So.  Once I got past the weirdness of the set up, and each Cabin began its own trials and tribulations I was absorbed into the novel.

My favorite cabin was Cabin 3 and their quest.  I could have read an entire novel about them alone.

If you like YA fantasy fiction and don’t mind a little violence I would recommend this novel to you.


On Turpentine Lane

Book 2/60 – On Turpentine Lane

On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman is a little different than many books I would pick on my own, but is the 2nd book I chose to read in my quest to reach 60 this year.

What is On Turpentine Lane About?

Faith Frankel has returned to her hometown and bought a quirky little house on Turpentine Lane.  Her life is peaceful except that her fiance is on a crowdfunded cross-country walk.  He won’t return her calls but has no problem using her credit card.  Then there are the problems at work, her parents problems, oh, and the creepy photos she found in her attic.

As things start to fall apart around her Faith hangs in there as best she can.

What Did I Think?

Its a CUTE book.  Really.

Stories where a female MC randoly buys a house and tries to change the tides of her own life appeal to me. (I reccomend Anybody Any Minute by Julie Mars in that vein)

On Turpentine Lane is not exactly that kind of book.

While she does buy a house on a whim, at first it seems like everything in her life starts going wrong.  Her traveling fiance wont return her calls, her job is in serious trouble, and her parents marriage is on the rocks and there are photos of dead babies in her attic!  Her whole life turns topsy turvy on Turpentine lane.

There is an element of mystery, a good bit of humor, and just a tinge of romance in this novel.

Recommended for a quick and fun read.

All the Little Liars Aurora Teagarden Book 9

Book 1/60 – All the Little Liars

All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris is book 9 in a series of books featuring Aurora Teagarden.

Newly married Aurora (Roe) has her pregnancy confirmed.  Not long after that her fifteen-year-old brother goes missing.  Worse than that he’s not missing alone.  Two of his friends are also gone, as well as an eleven-year-old girl.

During this time she takes a leave from her job at the library, and tries on her own to figure out what happened to her brother and his friends.

To her it seems to keep circling around to a group of bullies at the local middle school.  But how could they be connected?

Aurora Teagarden Mysteries Book #9

I picked this up knowing full well that it was a part of a series.  Anything tagged with “A So-n-So Mystery” usually means it is part of a long series, but that it can also be read as a stand alone novel.

This is the case here too, to an extent.  It gives some backstory on how Roe’s brother came to be living with her.  It doesn’t tell you exactly why the mild mannered librarian is also a super sleuth (sort of).

I am a fan of Charlaine Harris, if only a newbie fan.  I read and loved all 3 of the Midnight, Texas novels, and the 1st book of the Sookie Stackhouse series, along with one of her short stories in an anthology.  I had a good feeling I’d like this book, and I did.

I was a little taken aback, however, by the random characters that seem to drop in or call for no real reason whatsoever with information that just so happens to be exactly what she needs to figure out the next piece of the puzzle.

Her husband is also too good to be true.  A real, “I’ll agree with whatever you decide to do even if it makes no sense” kind of guy.

A Movie Series!

Since All the Little Liars is new novel it has not been adapted into a movie, but 6 other of the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries have.  They star the lovely Candace Cameron Bure, who often acts for Hallmark, and you can get them in one convenient box set.

Charlaine Harris s a New York Times bestselling author who has been writing for over 30 years.  Aside from the Aurora Teagarden books she also has 3 other Mysteries seires as well as the popular Sookie Stackhouse novels.

The Author is no newcomer to having her books turned into visual works either.  Her Sookie Stackhouse novels were made into an HBO series called True Blood.

More recently her Midnight, Texas novels were made into a series as well (which has not yet been renewed for a 2nd season).

Long Black Veil Review

This year I have set myself a goal for reading 60 books in 2018.  I’m using Goodreads to keep track of this goal.  After finishing Long Black Veil I’ve read 4 books this year, and it tells me that I am 2 books ahead of schedule.  Yay me!

Book 4/60 – Long Black Veil

Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan is the 1st review I’m doing for 2018, but it is the 4th book I’ve read this year. (reviews of the previous 3 novels to come)

The back cover of this novel promised me this:

On a summer night in 1980, tragedy strikes six friends.  Thirty-five years later, the consequences o that night threaten to pull them back in. New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Finney Boylan delivers a powerful thriller that asks: In any life that contains a “before” and an “after,” how is it possible to live one life, not two?

The Large Bathers by Cezanne

None of this would have ever happened if Rachel hadn’t insisted on Quentin seeing this painting. (Get a Print)

What Is Long Black Veil About?

The first  it looks like it is going to pay out on the promise of a thriller!

Our characters are: newlyweds Casey and Wailer, with Maisie and her brother Benny,  Rachel and Quentin. They had gone to see a painting called The Large Bathers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  An old German professor is with them as well, seemingly a good friend of Quentin’s.

Since it was close by, Tripper convinced the group of 6 to walk to Eastern State Penitentiary which had been closed and empty since 1972.

Of course the gate was unlocked and of course they friends all went in despite most of them thinking it was a bad idea.

Once inside Benny, who is on the Spectrum, runs off in pursuit of a cat.  While the friends separated in search of the child, someone locks them in.

I settled in thinking I’m about to have a good “lets explore the abandoned creepy place while some killer inside stalks us” read.

Well, that didn’t happen!

One of “Those” Books

Poof, suddenly its 7 years in the future and I was going, “Ohhhhh.  It’s gonna be one of THOSE books.”

When I read a story I prefer a linear tale.  When the time starts hopping back and forth and sideways and between different characters it gets to be a bit much for me.

Anyway, I resigned myself to reading one of “those” books.

The trapped stay in the empty prison only lasted a few hours, but during that time one of the members of the party disappeared.  While that is thriller-esque the group moves on with their lives.  They don’t even go all Scooby Gang and try to find out what happened to the missing party.  No amateur sleuthing for this group.

Then we get to the REAL story in the book.

One of our cast of characters is transgender.  They feel trapped in their life and can only think of ONE way to change that.  They fake their death, move to the other end of the continent and transition into their mental sex.  The real story of Long Black Veil is that of Judith living her second life.  She finds herself in the position of telling her husband and adopted son the truth that she had been hiding from them all this time.

My Opinions of Long Black Veil

Okay, I liked the story enough to read it in just a couple of days and rate it 4 our to 5 stars.

This is not  a thriller or a whodunit.  That part of the story is almost inconsequential to the rest.  You could get rid of the whole, “Lost in the Prison” part of the story while still having a whole tale.

I would have preferred this to be two different novels.  The Eastern State Penitentiary tale could have been creepier and better.  The friends should have worked hard to figure out the mystery and it could have all played out the same way.

The story of Judith could have been a sequel which intertwined itself with the first story.  I actually feel a bit cheated that I didn’t get to see more of Judith’s transition.  Her struggles with how she came into her new life,  her early life with her husband and son would have been a good read.

In the end I sort of felt cheated.  The author wanted to tell Judith’s story, so she baited a literary trap with the promise of  haunted prison shenanigans.

About the Author

Some people may be outraged at the though of an author portraying a trans person BUT, Jennifer Finney Boylan was previously James Boylan.  She made her own male to female transition in 2000.  You can read more in her autobiography She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Long Black Veil from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions in this review belong to me.  This review contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase from one I get a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

Full Wolf Moon by Lincoln Child: Book Review

Full Wolf Moon by Lincoln Child

Has enigmologist Jeremy Logan finally met his match?

Full Wolf Moon by Lincoln Child is a book I picked up off the NEW shelf on my last library trip.

I’ve never read anything by Lincoln Child before, though the cover proclaims him to be a New York Times #1 bestselling author.  Speaing of the cover, it is the reason I picked up the book.  It boasts a spooky cabin in the middle of nowhere, similar to the cover of The Hexed.  I guess I had a theme going on during that trip.

Jeremy Logan is an enigmalogist –an investigator who specalizes in analyzing unnatural phenomena.

He travels to an isolated retreat deep in the Adirondacks in an attempt to finish his monograph.  However, he’s approached by an old friend on his very first night at the retreat and finds himself investigating a series of deaths in the area, as a favor.

Every time he tries to tell himself he’s finished with the investigation he finds some other small tidbit of information that draws him back in.  He has seen a lot of strange things in his investigations, but could there possibly be an actual werewolf hunting the Adirondack Mountains?

What I Liked about Full Wolf Moon

You don’t see many werewolf novels.  At least not ones where the werewolf is a killer animal and not some hot guy for the female protag to fall in love with.  I’m a sucker for a good old fashioned monster story.

While most of the book is following the investigation and you don’t know who/what the killer is until the climax, I like that you do get to see some of the action from the POV of the victims.  Again, I’m a sucker for a monster story and they are much more fun when you see the monster.

What I Didn’t Like About Full Wolf Moon

Its part of a series.  AGAIN.  What is it with series these days?

Again, similar to The Hexed, the story seems to stand alone.  There is mention of  Jeremy’s wife, and his losing her.  You don’t get that whole story but none of it seems to pertain to the story in this novel.

Other than being book #5 follow Jeremy Logan on his adventures I can’t think of much I didn’t like about the tale.

Over all I give Full Wolf Moon a 4 out of 5 star rating.  It was a captivating read that kept me turning pages until the end.  Once the momentum kicked in it never slowed down enough to dull the story.  It’s certainly not “keep you up at night” horror, but its a good story.  I’d recommend it to anyone who loves horror/thriller reads.

 

Full Wolf Moon is available on Amazon in Kindle, Hardcover, Paperback, audobook and Audio CD formats.
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If you don’t want to start in book five, you can pick up any of the first 4 novels below:

Amanda Wakes Up by Alisyn Camerota

Amanda Wakes Up book cover

Can new ever really be unbiased and fair?

Amanda Wakes Up by Alisyn Camerota follows Amanda Gallo on her quest to become a news Anchor.  It is all she has ever wanted from the time she was a teen.  When a media mogul offers her a spot  on the team of a band new cable news network she couldn’t have been happier.

FAIR News is all about showing BOTH sides of the story….but is it really?

Launching during an election year, Amanda’s stories are a hotbed of hot topics and her new job is leaking into her personal life.  It’s affecting her love life, her relationship with her mother, and even the way she looks at the world around her.

It leads up to her chance to break the biggest story of the year, and what is means to her morality vs her lifelong dream.

What I Liked about Amanda Wakes Up

Amanda has a dream, and she chases it.  She truly believes in the Fair and Equal concept.  I like that about her because she reminds me of myself.  Like, you can have your on beliefs and STILL try to see the other side without being violent about it.

I liked the scenes where she was on the show with her co-host and her camera crew, but not talking politics.  I would have like to seen more of her on the job interactions.

What I Didn’t Like about Amanda Wakes Up

It took me over a week to get through the first 30 pages of this story.  The opening didn’t grab me at all.

There seemed to be a whole lot of TELLING vs SHOWING in the story.  Especially the first few chapters.  Our heroine, Amanda Gallo, was first reporter on a scene of a major even, and did some awesome investigative reporting which is what lands her the job this whole book is about.  But, we SEE none of that.  We are TOLD it happens.  I think I could have gotten into the story so much faster if we had seen her work.

I didn’t “connect” with Amanda Gallo.  A book is best when you feel like you are living life with the MC.  I felt like I was being told aobut someone, somewhere, with vague detail, and supposed to feel for them.

Predictability.  I saw 90% of what happened in this book coming, long before it got there.

Politics.  Reading this book was like watching the election all over again. *shudder*

Over all I give Amanda Wakes Up a 3 out of 5 star rating.  Its a book I read.  I wish it had been more about working on an early morning talk show and less about politics, but I  don’t regret reading it.  If you want a light fluffy read without a lot of detail, this is totally a book for you.

Amanda Wakes Up is available on amazon in Kindle, Hardcover and Audio though audible.
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Not sure you want to read this? See my other book reviews to find something you might like better.

(Disclaimer: I received a copy of Amanda Wakes Up from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions in this review are my own.)

The Hexed by Heather Graham : Book Review

The Hexed by Heather Graham

The Hexed is the 13th book in a series.

I picked up The Hexed by Heather Graham on one of my library trips.  I grabbed it off the shelf because of the cover (yes, I judge books by their covers) and tossed it in my take home bag because the back cover piqued my interest.

Devin Lyle inherited her great-aunts cabin, when suddenly a woman is murdered nearby.

Craig Rockwell is a new member of a special FBI team known as The Krewe of Hunters.  They are paranormal investigators.  The recently discovered body is very similar to one he found int he woods as a teen.

Devin and Agent Rockwell, of course, start to fall for each other as the case progresses. But will they get to the bottom of the case before Devin becomes the next victim?

It turns out that The Hexed is the 13th book in a series of 20.  Normally I hate picking up a book and finding out its part of a series.  This time it didn’t bother me.  There was enough back-story of the characters that you didn’t feel like you missed anything, and its not part of a continuous series where you have to have read everything before and everything after to get the complete story.

What I Liked About The Hexed

I liked that it was a stand alone novel instead of me having to worry about getting my hands on the whole series to know what I was reading about.

Of course I liked the paranormal aspect of The Hexed.  FBI agents who not only see but also can communicate with ghosts!  What’s not to like?

I liked that the romance between Devin and “Rocky” didn’t take over the whole book.  It was about them finding the killer, not about their mad love affair.

I liked “Crazy” great-aunt Mina, even though she didn’t really add much to the story.

I liked that Devin inherited a raven from her Aunt to go along with the cottage instead of a cat.  Cats are so overdone.

What I Didn’t Like

There are two main arguments throughout The Hexed that annoyed me.

One was the “It looks like this murder is connected to Wicca.” vs “Wiccans don’t kill!” argument.  This popped up many times throughout the novel.  Usually it came to light when two people, who are both open-minded and agree on the second point, kept talking in circles about it.  Certain aspects of the murders clearly pointed towards witchcraft, but any mention of it brought out a “Wiccan’s don’t kill” argument.

The second was the “It can’t be one of my friends, it must be one of your’s!” argument.  Something they might have said once and gotten over, but not after every single interview.

The Verdict

3 out of 5 stars

I didn’t hate the book, but I didn’t love it either.  It took a couple of tries for me to get into the story, and the 2 annoying arguments above kept making me set it aside.  I may go on to read more of the series, but I may not and won’t be telling ayone “You HAVE to read this!”

If you do want to give it a try The Hexed by Heather Graham is available on amazon in Kindle, Audio and Paperback forms.

Or, if you’re rather start from the beginning you can check out Phantom Evil: Book 1 in the Krewe of Hunters series.

 

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