Book Review: Lovestruck by Kate Watson @katew223 @fluxbooks

Kate Watson
Flux, April 2019
ISBN 978-1-63583-030-9
Trade Paperback

Picture Cupid.

Now, destroy that image and any other preconceived notions that accompany it. Apparently, we are wrong and it is the Romans’ fault.

Of course, Kali does seem quick to blame the Romans for most misunderstandings of Greek gods and goddesses; but the image of a chubby cherub with an illogically-sized bow, well that one certainly chaps her ass. Then again, she is the crankiest Erote anyone could fathom. Traits that tend to be exhausting and annoying when exhibited by a mere human are like an adorable child venting frustration when this present-day deity pitches a fit. It should not be amusing and delightful, but it actually is.

Which is not to say that Kali should be dismissed or even taken lightly. Like all great goddesses, she is terrifying and revels in vengeance. Plus, she hasn’t always been a bitter anger-ball. At a time when she was happy in life and love, Kali took her matchmaking training very seriously. She stayed sharp and constantly competed with her cousin, Deya, to be the best student.

Until she abruptly ascertained that the Fates have already paved our paths and nothing she does truly matters. At that Kali, becomes the most cynical, careless matchmaker to ever come out of Olympus. And she just completed her fourth mismatch.

Not good for any student, it is entirely unacceptable for the very daughter of Eros to perform so poorly. Consequences for continuing in this fashion will be dire at best, so it is almost implausible that she should so royally ruin her last chance.

I love this modern-day myth and I believe Ms. Watson’s writing may have a bit of a goddesses’ blessing as she magnificently manages to share a fun story with some intriguing food-for-thought undertones. Yet another treasure that I am super-excited to take to “my” students.

Reviewed by jv poore, April 2019.

The Museum Makers

Until I read this post, I hadn’t realized just
how much I miss going to museums, large
and small, during the pandemic. This book
will be coming out in the US in September
and I’m really looking forward to it 🙂

On The Shelf Books

‘Rachel Morris is one of the smartest storytellers I have ever met … a wonderful and beguiling book’ James Rebanks, author ofThe Shepherd’s Life

‘Without even thinking I began to slide all these things from the dusty boxes under my bed into groups on the carpet, to take a guess at what belonged to whom, to match up photographs and handwriting to memories and names – in other words, to sort and classify. As I did so I had the revelation that in what we do with our memories and the stuff that our parents leave behind, we are all museum makers, seeking to makes sense of the past.’

Museum expert Rachel Morris had been ignoring the boxes under her bed for decades. When she finally opened them, an entire bohemian family history was laid bare. The experience was revelatory – searching for her absent father in the archives…

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Book Review: Simple by Dena Nicotra @DenaNicotra @AnAudiobookworm


Title: Simple
Series: Simp, Book 1
Author: Dena Nicotra
Narrator: Kendra Murray
Publication Date: July 1, 2020
Genres: Science Fiction


Simp, Book 1
Dena Nicotra
Narrated by Kendra Murray
Dena Nicotra, July 2020
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Nothing simple is real. You will look twice at people…and technology.

The idea of making life simple appealed to the mainstream. After the economic collapse of the 21st century, the government latched on to technology like an economic lifeline. Bio-synthetic humanoids integrated into society with relative ease. Taking on the menial jobs, humans grew dependent on their android counterparts, but the corporate sector took things too far. Wrapped in their one-click comfort zones, people trudged along with their lattes and fashion trend blinders.

The dark side of genetic engineering is a harsh reality. Humans are being hunted. They don’t stand a chance.

No one seemed to notice that they weren’t acting as hospitable as they once had. They should have. They didn’t have weaknesses like we did, and, they were capable of clever, unimaginable cruelty.

Those that have survived call the rogue bio-synthetic humanoids “simps” because the company that started the mess had a cheesy marketing campaign that said they made life “Simple”. They couldn’t have been more wrong. When the war broke out, simps were used to spare human losses. It was viewed as a brilliant solution until a developer working for the enemy infected the simps with a virus that caused them to turn on the humans they served. They couldn’t shut them down fast enough.

Hailey Pachello doesn’t do people. She relies on herself because it’s easier. It’s safer, and it’s less dramatic. That is until she meets Leonard ‘Gizzard’ O’Malley. Giz has connections and a plan, and it might just be a good one.

Join Hailey as she embarks on her wondrous adventure, in a timeless, powerful, and memorable cyberpunk thriller. 

Fans of Isaac Asimov will appreciate this fast past thriller, although the three laws of robotics never applied to simps! This cyberpunk tale is set in the year 2038.

Ever since our first stay-at-home started, along about mid-March, I’ve had trouble getting much satisfaction out of reading and I know I’m not alone. I hear about it online and in Zoom book club meetings and it’s really frustrating; as best as I can explain it in my own case, it seems to be an inability to focus, to really get involved with what I’m reading. With only a handful of exceptions, most books have struck me as lackluster and, while I know the problem is me, not the books (for the most part), the end result is the same.

Then along came Simple and, oh my, Dena Nicotra, aided by Kendra Murray’s fine narration, has taken me to a place I’ve missed—booklove. Can I point to anything in particular? No, I just got completely caught up with a terrific plot and characters who grabbed my attention, brought to vivid life by Ms. Murray’s distinct voices and spot-on sense of pacing. Ms. Nicotra’s worldbuilding is pretty darned good, too—I’d like to know more about how people first became so dependent on androids but the author gave enough background that I didn’t really feel a lack.

Lee (Hailey) is a young woman I would love to know in real life, complex with a backbone of steel and a desire to not have to care about anybody. She fails at that but she also has the intelligence and street smarts to survive in this war against droids gone bad and, when she falls in with Mic and Giz, the action starts to ramp up seriously. Then there’s my next favorite character, Two, and a passel of bad guys who also just happen to be full of personality. Oh, and by the way, Ms. Murray’s interpretation of Sonya is, well, perfect.

Technically, this book could be a standalone but I want more so I’m very happy to know there’s a sequel, Real. Now I just need to hope there will be an audio edition…soon.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2020.


Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes


About the Author

Dena Nicotra was born in Southern California and grew up between the busy city and a small town in Arkansas. She is a copywriter, freelance journalist, and holds a degree in Communications. She currently lives in a small desert town in California with her husband and one very spoiled little dog.

She’s mom to two grown sons that she calls her sun and moon. ​When she’s not writing, she can be found in the kitchen cooking up something special for family and friends.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram


About the Narrator

Kendra performed in numerous plays in high school and college, and directed a play for her senior project, which earned her the school Drama Cup. She apprenticed at, and managed the Box Office of the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Mass. She performed, produced and directed radio plays with Petaluma Radio Players. Kendra narrates audiobooks across many genres, as solo narrator and as duet narrators with her husband, Ralph Scott, all available on  She frequently “speaks” in character voices for her dog, Gandalf, and her cats, Merlin and Saffira. She has two young adult children and a stepdaughter. Kendra is an avid knitter and spinner, and is very crafty.



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Book Review: The Long Call by Ann Cleeves @AnnCleeves @panmacmillan @MinotaurBooks

The Long Call
The Two Rivers #1
Ann Cleeves
Pan Macmillan, April 2020
ISBN 978-1-5098-8956-3
Trade Paperback
Minotaur, July 2020
ISBN 978-1-250-20445-5
Trade Paperback

Ann Cleeves is the well known author of two very popular mystery series; Shetland with detective Jimmy Perez, and Vera, with Detective Vera Stanhope. Here in The Long Call we meet a brand new Detective, DI Matthew Venn. Matthew has returned to Barnstaple in North Devon where he grew up. His father died recently but Matthew hadn’t seen or spoken to his parents since he began attending university, unable to conform to the strict evangelical group they belonged to known as the Barnum Brethren.

The body of a man with no identification has been found on the beach. He’s been stabbed and DI Venn’s first task is to identify the victim. It isn’t long before they learn he’s Simon Walden, a secretive man with mental issues and a relative stranger to the area.

As DI Venn, along with detectives DS Jen Rafferty and DS Ross May, begin their murder investigation we meet a number of the locals as they are interviewed. Widower Maurice Braddick and his thirty year old Down Syndrome daughter Lucy who attends the Woodyard Centre; Hilary and Colin Marston who have recently moved to the area and might have seen the victim prior to his death; Gabby Henry an artist who teaches painting at the Woodyard Community Centre, who isn’t telling the whole truth, and Caroline Preece with whom the victim had been staying.

There are a few more players in this intriguing mystery including DI Venn’s mother who reaches out to Matthew when her friend’s daughter Christine Shapland, Lucy’s friend and another Down Syndrome girl, disappears. Lives are in danger as the perpetrator attempts to stop the police from uncovering the truth and solving the murder.

Ann Cleeves is a master at portraying these small towns and the people who live in them. They are an endless source of interest as inevitably behind closed doors all is not what it seems…

I highly recommend this mystery and hope it’s the first in a new series featuring DI Matthew Venn. I was happy, however, to see a reference to a new title in Vera Stanhope’s series – The Darkest Evening – due out later this year.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, June 2020.

Book Review: Death on Tuckernuck by Francine Mathews @FMathewsAuthor @soho_press

Death on Tuckernuck
A Merry Folger Nantucket Mystery #6
Francine Mathews
Soho Crime, April 2020
ISBN 978-1-61695-993-7

Let me start by saying that I haven’t read previous books in Francine Mathews‘ series featuring Detective Meredith (Merry) Folger and Death on Tuckernuck has introduced me to just what I have been missing!  Merry Folger is a detective on the Nantucket (MA) police force who is about to get married when she is called to investigate a case in which the Coast Guard found two people shot in a boat drifting off Nantucket.  In the meantime, a Category 3 hurricane is headed for New England and everyone on Nantucket and the small private island of Tuckernuck is  boarding up windows and otherwise preparing for a huge storm.

Dionis Mather and her father, Jack Mather, run a small business getting supplies from the mainland for people on Nantucket and Tuckernuck and taking care of properties when the summer folk leave for the winter.  With the storm approaching, they are busy getting homes ready to weather the storm and taking people off the islands to shelters until the storm is over.  One of the major properties on Tuckernuck is owned by a very rich, very arrogant star NFL quarterback who happens to own a couple of horses along with his huge home on the island.  He has a groom for the horses, but she left, unwilling to stay alone on Tuckernuck while a hurricane is bearing down on the island.  On instructions from the owner’s personal assistant in New York that if the Mathers don’t go and take care of the horses they will be sued if anything happens to them, Dionis reluctantly agrees to go and see to them.  As it turns out, she runs into much bigger problems than the two horses.

I don’t want to say much more about the story because I don’t want to give away too much about the plot.  Suffice it to say that Mathews has written a really good mystery, one that kept me reading far into the night until I finished it.  I highly recommend this book.  For sure, I will be looking for the first five books in this series.

Reviewed by Melinda Drew, July 2020.

Book Review: Camp Lenape by Timothy R. Baldwin @timothyrbaldwin @IndiesUnitedPub @AnAudiobookworm


Author: Timothy R. Baldwin

Narrators: Brittany Goodwin, James David West

Length: 3 hours and 3 minutes

Series: A Kahale and Claude Mystery Series, Book 1

Publisher: Indies United Publishing House, LLC

Released: May 28, 2020

Genre: Mystery; YA


It’s supposed to be a fun summer…then a girl goes missing.

When a girl goes missing, and none of the adults can give a straight answer, a childhood game suddenly turns into a real, secret mission.

Phone lines are down. Strange men roam the campgrounds. Financial documents indicate something’s amiss. And hidden security cameras point to a mysterious cottage in the woods.

With heightened suspicions, junior camp counselors Marcus and Alissa recruit their friends to help find the missing girl. In their search, the teens will learn to rely on each other, especially when they encounter a terrible and dangerous secret.



Buy Links

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Tim grew up in Syracuse, New York. He currently resides in Maryland where he teaches English, Creative Writing, Film, and Theatre on the middle school level. At the insistence of his own students, he began writing seriously in 2014. He credits his love for story to his mother, who spent countless hours reading to him and his siblings when they were growing up. Growing up, he devoured the literary works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Piers Anthony, and many others. Mysteries, thrillers, and fantasies are among the genres he most frequently reads. When he’s not writing, he’s reading, teaching, camping, or at a live music concert.



Narrator Bio

Brittany Goodwin is a Nashville-based director, screenwriter and actor know for her faith-based films “Secrets in the Snow”, “Secrets in the Fall”, “Be Still & Know” and “If You’re Gone”, a feature film based on Goodwin’s best-selling novel of the same name. Acting credits include the 2019 theatrical release “The Perfect Race”, as well as her ongoing work as a motion capture actor for Epic Games, and dozens of voiceover and narration credits.



Narrator Bio

James David West is an actor and producer, known for “Teraphobia” (2020), “The Reflections Project: Subsequent Rumination” (2018) and “God Country”.



Ahh, summer camp, days and nights full of sun, fun, learning new stuff, making new friends and catching up with old pals, arts & crafts, lots of water activities, squabbling over the top bunks, fighting off a gazillion bugs, sitting around the campfire singing songs and telling stories, coping with homesickness, getting a great tan, hiking through the woods, taking on chores…all in all, a terrific experience except for the obligatory moments of angst. One thing that generally is not part of summer camp is missing campers.

When junior counselor Alissa learns that one of her charges, Bri, has disappeared in the night, she and her co-counselor Marcus (Bri’s older brother) start looking for her and soon discover that the adults don’t seem to be taking this seriously. In fact, the teens believe that lies are being told and they draft a couple of friends, Nate and Janice, to help figure out what’s really going on. Before long, they’re faced with an ugly situation and some really bad guys but, most painful of all, betrayal of their trust.

These teens are dedicated to finding the missing child and, along the way, they learn much about themselves and their hidden strengths. Bringing their stories to life are narrators Brittany Goodwin and James David West whose characterizations are spot on. They also have a good sense of pacing and ramp up the tension when the tale calls for it. They and author Timothy R. Baldwin have crafted a reading/listening experience to be savored by middle graders on up.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2020.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Timothy R. Baldwin. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.


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If Gnarly Was Our President … @TheMysteryLadie

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Chris Matheson Cold Case, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty-five titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Killer Deadline marks Lauren’s first venture into mystery’s purely cozy sub-genre with a female protagonist. 

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

A popular speaker, Lauren is also the owner of Acorn Book Service, the umbrella under which falls iRead Book Tours. She lives with her husband and two spoiled rotten German Shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram ~ Pinterest

He’s Not Snarly, Vote 4 Gnarly!

Top ten reasons why you should vote for Gnarly to be our next president.

1)      He’s a dog. I know what you’re saying. Gnarly is playing the “dog card.” But think about it. How many times have you heard someone say, “I trust dogs more than I trust humans”? Well, it’s true. Why? Because dogs don’t lie. Face it. He’s not going to tell you that he loves you and will go to back for you and work his heart out for you in order to win a thousand votes from you. If Gnarly doesn’t like you, he’ll bite you on the ankle. Now how refreshing is that in a presidential candidate?!

2)      Gnarly will never lie to you. See Number 1.

3)      No New Taxes. Gnarly doesn’t know what taxes are. As long as no one tells him, you don’t have to worry about him imposing any.

4)      You can trust Gnarly to keep our nation’s secrets safe. Just last week, he got a Blackberry and he ate it. He doesn’t use email because every time he gets near a computer he tends to chew on it and then it gets messed up. So there is no question about his emails being hacked and then him lying about it.

5)      Gnarly will go to North Korea to negotiate an end to their nuclear testing. This might not be a good idea because they eat dogs in Korea.

6)      Gnarly will repeal the leash law—Day One in office—every word of it.

7)      Gnarly will repeal ObamaCare. Mainly because he hates going to the doctor and getting shots.

8)      Before this decade is out, Gnarly intends to send a man to Mars and back—not a dog—because that will be dangerous. Best to send a man—preferably a terrorist. That way if something unfortunate happens, there will be no great loss.

9)      Gnarly promises unlimited dog biscuits in every home, and a dog park and fire hydrants on every block.

10)   Gnarly will hold a summit, bringing together the canine and feline leaders of all the countries throughout the world to work out a peace agreement to settle all their differences. No humans allowed. They had their chance. Now it’s time to get down to business.

Book Details:

Book Title: Candidate for Murder by Lauren Carr
Series:  A Mac Faraday Mystery (Volume 12)
Category:  Adult fiction, 464 pages
Genre:  Murder Mystery / Political Satire
Publisher:  Acorn Book Services
Release date:  June 9, 2016
Content Rating: PG-13 – (Lauren Carr’s books are murder mysteries, so there are murders involved. Occasionally, a murder will happen on stage. There is sexual content, but always behind closed doors. Some mild swearing (a hell or a damn few and far between). No F-bombs!

It’s election time in Spencer, Maryland, and the race for mayor is not a pretty one. In recent years, the small resort town has become divided between the year-round residents who enjoy their rural way of life and the city dwellers who are moving into mansions, taking over the town council, and proceeding to turn Deep Creek Lake into a closed-gate community—complete with a host of regulations for everything from speed limits to clotheslines. When the political parties force-feed two unsavory mayoral nominees to the town’s residents, David O’Callaghan, the chief of police, decides to make a statement—by nominating Gnarly, Mac Faraday’s German shepherd, to run for mayor of Spencer! What starts out as a joke turns into a disaster when overnight, Gnarly becomes the front-runner, and his political opponents proceed to dig into the canine’s past. When one of the mayoral candidates ends up dead, it becomes apparent that slinging mud is not enough for someone with a stake in this election. With murder on the ballot, Mac Faraday and the gang—including old friends from past cases—dive in to clear Gnarly’s name, catch a killer, and save Spencer!