Book Review: Unlocked by Margo Kelly

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Title: Unlocked
Author: Margo Kelly
Publisher: Merit Press

Publication Date: October 1, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult



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Margo Kelly
Merit Press, October 2016
ISBN 978-1-4405-9359-8

From the publisher—

A provocative thriller involving hypnosis, mystery, love, and friendship!

Someone has been moving the stuffed pink elephant in Hannah’s room. She thinks. And ants crawl over her hands, across the steering wheel, all the time. Don’t they? They’re what made her crash the car on the way home from the fair, and she wouldn’t have freaked out, wouldn’t have caused her friend’s death, for no reason. But she doesn’t know if a person is messing with her, if the paranormal is messing with her–or if she’s just going psychotic like her dad before her.

When her friends bail, Hannah is left floundering. Not even her boyfriend Manny believes her, and new girl Chelsea is practically replacing her at school. Only artsy outsider and self-proclaimed occult expert, Plug, agrees to help Hannah find out the truth about hypnosis and demons, and even he can’t help Hannah reclaim her mind from whatever’s taking over. She’ll have to do that herself if she wants to save her friends, her mom and herself.

Some reviews are more difficult to write than others for a variety of reasons. In this case, I was affected by the premise of Hannah’s story.

I’m not speaking from personal experience, thank heavens, but I think it must be so very hard to believe you’re losing your mind, especially when you’ve sen it in your family, giving the possibility a lot of credence. Imagine, then, how much worse it must be when Hannah has to cope with the fact that she has killed a friend when in the grip of one of these episodes.

Knowing that there might be other explanations for what’s happening to her isn’t exactly comforting and the way her classmates distance themselves from her doesn’t help. It seems there are very few people in Hannah’s court but she at least has Plug, a guy who’s far more reliable and caring than she could have expected. With his help, Hannah will soon find that the demons are far worse than she feared but that she has an inner strength that just might save her.

Hannah is a girl I can like, very vulnerable but resilient, but it’s her new friends who really captured me. Plug, Nick and Kyla are refreshing and loyal and, above all, they have faith in Hannah.

Although Ms. Kelly has done a fine job with an emotionally wrenching topic, I do have to say I wasn’t crazy about the structure of the book, specifically the very lengthy chapters. I prefer being able to come to a natural stop more often (I hate putting a book down in the middle of a chapter) and that’s especially true with such an intense story; I need a break sometimes. Still, Ms. Kelly has caught my attention with Unlocked and I’m looking forward to seeing more from her.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2016.

About the Author

margo-kellyMargo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, Margo is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Her critically acclaimed debut, Who R U Really?, was published by Merit Press (an imprint of F+W Media) in 2014. Her second novel, Unlocked, will be published by Merit Press in October 2016. Margo welcomes opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

Margo Kelly loves to be scared … when she’s reading a good book, watching a good movie, or suffering from the hiccups. She loves writing thrillers for young adults and hopes her stories give you the goose bumps or the itchies or the desire to rethink everyday things. Margo is represented by the not-so-scary, but totally awesome, Brianne Johnson of Writers House.

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Book Review: The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan—and a Giveaway!

the-bookshop-on-the-cornerThe Bookshop on the Corner
Jenny Colgan
William Morrow, September 2016
ISBN 978-0-06-246725-6
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.

Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.

From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.

Sometimes a book just reaches out to you because it triggers things within, you know? No one who knows anything about me will be surprised that I wanted this one, considering my past as a bookshop owner, but there was another enticement pulling me in….one of my all-time favorite countries I’ve had the pleasure of visiting is Scotland. So, I ask you, did I have any hope of resisting? In fact, as the Borg would say, “resistance is futile” 😉

Just a side note before I forget: this book is also available in hardcover but, if you think the synopsis sounds a little familiar, it came out back in February in the UK under a different title, The Little Shop of Happy Ever After.

Ahh, Nina, what a lovely protagonist. She is by turns overly shy, brave, vulnerable, adventurous, a little sad with life and especially with the closing of the library, and full of quixotic hope for her future. Nina overcomes her reluctance to stand out in the world and throws caution to the wind, reinventing herself while she brings treasure to a small corner of Scotland. She personifies librarians and booksellers everywhere with her passion to share the right book with the right reader.

So, Nina sets out to Scotland to the little village of Kirrinfief, a place where people are mostly content but don’t know what they’ve been missing until Nina brings books back to the community. Slowly but surely, Nina finds her new home and heart and is surrounded by folks who take in this newcomer and perhaps give back as much as they’re getting.

Another side note: Ms. Colgan includes a Message to Readers that’s an absolute must-read. Trust me, don’t skip over this even if you’re so inclined—you will be rewarded 😉

I’m adding this to my favorite books read in 2016 list and it may just be #1 because it gave me pleasure in so many ways including charming characters and a setting…and dream…that took me back in time in my own life. The Bookshop on the Corner is my introduction to Jenny Colgan but it certainly won’t be the last book I read by her. She has an extensive backlist and I intend to get started on it ASAP.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2016.



Purchase Links:

  Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Amazon

HarperCollins | Indiebound


About the Author

jenny-colganJenny Colgan is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including Little Beach Street Bakery, Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop, and Christmas at the Cupcake Café, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.

Find out more about Jenny at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Follow the tour:

Tuesday, September 20th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, September 21st: I Wish I Lived in a Library

Thursday, September 22nd: Lesa’s Book Critiques

Friday, September 23rd: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Monday, September 26th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Tuesday, September 27th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, September 28th: Wall-to-Wall Books

Thursday, September 29th: Buried Under Books

Monday, October 3rd: Books and Bindings

Tuesday, October 4th: BookNAround

Wednesday, October 5th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile

Thursday, October 6th: Melissa Lee’s Many Reads

Friday, October 7th: A Bookish Affair


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I’d love to send somebody my very
gently used print advance reading
copy of The Bookshop on the Corner.
Leave a comment below and I’ll draw
the winning name on Sunday evening,
October 2nd. This drawing is open
to residents of the US & Canada.

Waiting On Wednesday (45)

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that
spotlights upcoming releases that I’m really
looking forward to. Waiting On Wednesday
is the creation of Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

Continue reading

Book Review: The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti

the-vanishing-yearThe Vanishing Year
Kate Moretti
Atria Books, September 2016
ISBN 978-1-5011-1843-2
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Zoe Whittaker is living a charmed life. She is the beautiful young wife to handsome, charming Wall Street tycoon Henry Whittaker. She is a member of Manhattan’s social elite. She is on the board of one of the city’s most prestigious philanthropic organizations. She has a perfect Tribeca penthouse in the city and a gorgeous lake house in the country. The finest wine, the most up-to-date fashion, and the most luxurious vacations are all at her fingertips.

What no one knows is that five years ago, Zoe’s life was in danger. Back then, Zoe wasn’t Zoe at all. Now her secrets are coming back to haunt her.

As the past and present collide, Zoe must decide who she can trust before she—whoever she is—vanishes completely.

From the opening lines, we learn that Zoe has lived with uncertainty her whole life. Yes, she had a true mother who fills her thoughts every day but it’s the girl who left her behind at birth that Zoe dreams about now, wondering about what might have happened. Sometimes, these dreams are violent, and it’s a far cry from such a start in life to the world she inhabits now of wealth and prestige. Zoe’s husband, Henry, expects her to take her place in society and she does, reluctantly, that reluctance perhaps coming from more than just shyness.

The tone set by Ms. Moretti is just slightly ominous in those first pages but, in her capable hands, the tension ratchets up until I started getting those creepy crawlies, the kind that ripple up and down your spine, and I couldn’t sleep for needing to know what was coming next. The secrets and lies, the twists and turns, kept showing up without warning and leaving little time to contemplate their true meaning before the next surprise. It’s the unknown that really frightens, isn’t it? And, yet, here the known will become even darker. more of a morass, than Zoe could possibly imagine.

It all begins when someone calls her “Hilary”.

If I have anything negative to say at all, it’s that a cast of characters would have been welcome, considering the plethora of players. Kate Moretti is a writer to be reckoned with, one who wrapped her story around me until I could barely breathe but, when all was said and done, she left me with good feelings and wanting more. This is a writer who knows how to tell a tale 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2016.



Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Books-a-Million // Apple
Amazon // Blio // Google // IndieBound


About the Author

By Pooja Dhar at PR Photograph

By Pooja Dhar at PR Photograph

Kate Moretti is the New York Times bestselling author of Thought I Knew You, Binds That Tie, and While You Were Gone. She lives in eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and two kids. Find out more at, or follow her on Twitter (@KateMoretti1) or Facebook (KateMorettiWriter).

Find Kate online:



Twitter: @KateMoretti1

Instagram: @katemoretti1


Enter the drawing for a signed
copy of The Vanishing Year



“Kate Moretti’s The Vanishing Year is a Rebecca
for the modern age—a novel filled with doubts and

deception, secrets and history. Society wife Zoe Whitaker
must confront the age-old question of whether
forgetting our past dooms us to endless repetition
and more heartache and danger than one woman can bear.”

—Jenny Milchman, author of As Night Falls

The Vanishing Year is more than an engaging tale of utter
betrayal. It’s an intricate dance of realities, full of twists
and turns you won’t see coming. Kate Moretti has outdone
herself. You’ll miss your bedtime, guaranteed.” —J.T. Ellison,
New York Times bestselling author of No One Knows

Book Review: Convergence by Michelle Grey

Long Shot Series, Book Three
Michelle Grey
CreateSpace, February 2016
ISBN 978-1530169436
Trade Paperback

Whether we call it a romantic suspense or a mystery/romance, the chase is on in Convergence. The plot and characters satisfy detective story lovers and also please readers of romance novels. It’s told from two points of view. Tori Whitlock, the beautiful, hard-nosed tornado chaser isn’t looking for commitment, and Jack Mathis, the hot FBI detective intends only to chase the serial killer threatening Tori’s life. Their worlds collide when the detective must take up residence in Tori’s home to protect her.

Tori has become a celebrity from her electrifying tornado chase videos, and she’s totally upfront about pursuing Jack for a roll in the sack. But she’s also running from demons and ready to lash out with her sharp tongue against the idea of being protected. Jack finds himself drawn to the intelligent, strong-willed lady but won’t let himself act unprofessionally. He’s also still healing from past heartbreak.

The detective fits right in with Tori’s tornado chase team, but he must investigate each member in case the killer of women meteorologists has infiltrated the group. The reader learns how chase teams work while following the increasing fearfulness and also the sexual tension. As soon as we think we don’t know much about the inner Jack or about Tori’s motivations, the author gives us more. Gradually, the characters become rounded until we care as much as they do.

Convergence gives us two main characters, two intertwined plots, and two climaxes (no pun intended). We turn pages to learn whether the serial killer will ever be identified and whether the protagonists will be able to share their feelings with each other. It’s a twisted path, but worth the turns.

Reviewed by Joyce Ann Brown, July 2016.
Author of cozy mysteries: Catastrophic Connections, Furtive Investigation and Nine LiFelines, the first three Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mysteries.

Book Review: Murder Most Fowl by Edith Maxwell

murder-most-fowlMurder Most Fowl
A Local Foods Mystery #4
Edith Maxwell
Kensington Books, June 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4967-0025-4

It’s spring in Westbury, Massachusetts. Organic farmer Cam Flaherty is busy tilling and planting and raising baby chicks when her neighbor, Wayne Laitinen is found dead. It soon develops that he’s been murdered. The question is why. He’s always seemed a pleasant hardworking man, generous with good advice for his fellow farmers. Could it be a wealthy neighbor wanted to buy some of his land to pasture her daughter’s horse, and Wayne said no, he didn’t want to sell? Or was it the group of animal rights activists who vandalized his farm? Or even his wife because money (the lack thereof) problems have derailed their marriage?

Cam, who is a concerned neighbor, discovers a vital piece of evidence, which she promptly⏤and correctly⏤turns over to the police. Helpful to her police detective boyfriend, but it will take Cam, who in the final denouement ends up shot and wounded, plus the whole department to bring the murderer to light.

I liked the premise of this story. I liked Cam and her boyfriend Pete Pappas. They seemed to work well together without getting in each other’s way. Rare, as quite often the larger part of tension in a cozy seems to be between the main character and her policeman boyfriend.

The writing is competent, the plotting tight and fast moving. The animals in the story serve a purpose besides just being there. The book is an enjoyable read with which to while away an evening.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, July 2016.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder and Four Furlongs.

Book Review: Time of Death by Mark Billingham

time-of-death-billinghamTime of Death
A Tom Thorne Novel #13
Mark Billingham
Grove Press, June 2016
ISBN 978-0-8021-2499-9
Trade Paperback

Tom Thorne and his significant other, Helen Weeks, arrange to take a short trip to the Cotswolds, leaving her baby to be cared for by her father, but the vacation is cut short when two young girls go missing in Helen’s home town. She decides to go to support a girlhood friend she hasn’t seen in 20 years when the woman’s husband is arrested for the abductions.  Tom, of course, accompanies her, and can’t resist sticking his nose into the investigation, especially when the first girl turns up dead.

Tom becomes convinced that the man jailed for the offenses did not commit the crimes, but the police are convinced they have the right man.  But how to prove his theory?  With the help of his good friend, the pathologist Phil Hendricks, the first clue emerges and the quest for additional evidence goes on.

This novel goes deeper into developing Tom, Phil and Helen as characters, showing their human frailties, as well as their professional talents.  Moreover, the theme of the novel is one that the author uses to demonstrate the terror and helplessness of victims of violent crimes.   Another fine book in this top series, and one that is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, May 2016.