Book Review: Lazarus by Maryanne Melloan Woods @maryannemwoods @owlhollowpress @RockstarBkTours

 

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I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the LAZARUS by
Maryanne Melloan Woods Blog Tour hosted by
Rockstar Book Tours.
Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

 About The Book:

Title: LAZARUS

Author: Maryanne Melloan Woods

Pub. Date: September 8, 2020

Publisher: Owl Hollow Press

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 230

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, B&N, Kobo, TBD, Bookshop.org

 

Margo and Hank are two teens in tiny, god-forsaken Lazarus, Nebraska. They have a profoundly deep relationship; the only hitch is that Hank has been dead for two months. Somehow he has remained in limbo— no doubt due to the sheer force of their love, and unfinished work to be done.

 

When the pair get tangled up investigating the latest local murder— with Margo doing the everyday detective work and the late Hank spying on suspects unseen—they discover nothing and no one in Lazarus are as they seem. The investigation becomes more dangerous, and it’s up to Hank to protect Margo—as much as a ghost-bodyguard boyfriend can. While clinging to each other, the teens uncover the sinister secrets of the people they’ve known all their lives, reopen the cold case of Margo’s mother’s death, and learn how to face their past—and how to move on.

 

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A teenager and her ghostly boyfriend solving crimes is an appealing premise and, with dollops of humor and a whodunnit atmosphere, Ms. Woods makes it work. Margo and Hank can’t help being a bit mired in sadness since Hank isn’t really alive and well but the two work well in tandem, perhaps even more efficiently than other detecting duos. After all, a ghost can go places and hear things that a living person can’t, right?

It’s not Hank’s death that they need to investigate but there’s a lot going on in Lazarus including a very unexpected murder and perhaps another one in the planning stage. Also, Margo has dealt with death before, seven years ago when her mother was murdered and her killer was never caught. Hank and Margo have their work cut out for them to discover some hard truths while trying to find their way back to a semblance of normalcy even if that means another loss.

Lazarus is a fun, quick read and is a nice way to while away a few hours; there’s nothing like a good ghost story when Halloween is just around the corner 🙂

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2020.

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About Maryanne:

Maryanne Melloan Woods is a novelist/ screenwriter/
playwright currently living in the New York area. She received a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Drew University and an M.F.A. in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles.

As a TV writer/producer, Maryanne has written shows for
networks including Showtime, NBC, ABC, Fox, the WB, Nickelodeon and ABC Family.

 

Maryanne’s plays have been produced by HBO’s New Writers Project, the Mark Taper Forum, and many theatres around the country. Maryanne has won the New England Theatre Conference’s John Gassner Playwriting Contest and the Venice (CA) Playwrights’ Festival. She also received a playwriting grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Her play, Smells Like Gin, was the first play produced by Writers Theatre of New Jersey, and she recently won “Best Comedy Script” in the Nashville Film Festival’s screenwriting competition for her screenplay Steve.

 

She has taught screenwriting at the Gotham Writers Workshop in New York, UCLA and the American Film Institute, and served as a panelist for TV writing seminars at NYU and the University of Wisconsin. Maryanne was also a
mentor/teacher for The Unusual Suspects, a playwriting workshop for at-risk teens in L.A.

 

Maryanne is represented by Liza Fleissig of Liza Royce Agency.

 

Website| Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

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Giveaway Details:

2 winners will receive a Finished Copy
of LAZARUS, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tour Schedule

Week One:

9/21/2020

BookHounds Ya

Excerpt

9/22/2020

YA Books Central

Excerpt

9/23/2020

Oh Hey! Books

Excerpt

9/24/2020

Lifestyle
of Me

Review

9/25/2020

The Phantom Paragrapher

Review

 

Week Two:

9/28/2020

Infinite Lives, Infinite Stories

Review

9/29/2020

Smada’s
Book Smack

Review

9/30/2020

Buried Under Books

Review

10/1/2020

A
Gingerly Review

Review

10/2/2020

Rajiv’s Reviews

Review

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Book Review: The Sleeping Nymph by Ilaria Tuti @Ilaria_Tuti @soho_press

The Sleeping Nymph
A Teresa Battagllia Novel #2
Ilaria Tuti
Translated from the Italian by Ekin Oklap
Soho Crime, September 2020
ISBN: 978-1-64129-121-7
Hardcover

To begin with, this is not really my style of mystery– or so I first thought. A bit too poetic, too flowery, too literary for my personal taste. What’s more, having been the caretaker of, and having been there from the beginning with a victim of Alzheimer’s, I can guarantee I don’t enjoy reading about it. Too sad, too damn frightening.

Also, at the beginning, I found myself skipping some passages, several of which failed to move the story along.

But then I became hooked. The mystery involves a painting, glorious and lifelike of a beautiful young woman, which dates from World War II. When the painting is inspected by experts, one of their tests reveals that the paint contains not only blood, but matter from a human heart. The woman’s heart? Will it help identify her all these years later? Brought in on what at first seems to be an unsolvable cold case, Superintendent Teresa Battaglia and her team are sent to Val Resia, an isolated area in the Italian mountains. Not only is the superintendent suffering the first stages of Alzheimer’s, but is diabetic and overweight. How is she to cope? All her answers lie in her diary, where she records every thought, every detail of her life.

Meanwhile, another human heart from a recent kill is found guarding the valley entrance, a warning to proceed no further. More people die, fires burn evidence, Teresa’s diary is stolen and creepy things happen in the forest.

When the tension picks up and the role of suspects grows longer, the hunt to uncover the secrets in this strange valley becomes more desperate. The author masterfully brings all the aspects together and ties up the loose ends. The side stories and the lives of the superintendent’s team all become important and necessary to solving the case. I ended up enjoying this book very much, enough to put it on my best mystery list for 2020.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, September 2020.
http://www.ckcrigger.com
Author of The Woman Who Built A Bridge (Spur Award Winner), Yester’s Ride,
Hometown Burning and Five Days, Five Dead: A China Bohannon Novel

Book Review: Fair Warning by Michael Connelly @Connellybooks @littlebrown

Fair Warning
Jack McEvoy #3
Michael Connelly
Little, Brown and Company, May 2020
ISBN 978-0-316-53942-5
Hardcover

Jack McEvoy is a reporter working for Fair Warning, an Internet news site dedicated to alerting the public to scams and schemes perpetrated by con men.  On arriving at his apartment, two LAPD Detectives approached and asked to speak to him.  Once inside the Detectives tell him they are from the Robbery-Homicide Division, and are working a homicide and Jack’s name had come up. Tina Portrero, a woman Jack had dated a year ago, had been found dead in her apartment.

The Detectives asked the usual questions re his whereabouts at the time of the murder and while he isn’t thrilled with their attitudes he agrees to give a DNA sample knowing full well the results would come back negative. He’d been on an assignment at the time of the woman’s death.

Jack is a credited reporter, is determined to find out what happened to Tina He tracks down her mother, who has arrived to identify the body and from their conversation learns that Tina was adopted and had recently sent a DNA sample to a local company in the hope of finding other siblings.

When the Detectives find out he’s pursuing the case they warn him off.  Refusing to be intimidated he continues to investigate, calling on Rachel Walling, an ex-FBI agent and one time lover to enlist her help.   As they delve deeper they begin to believe that a serial killer is at work.

I’m a fan of Michael Connelly, but in the beginning of this novel and for the first third of the book I was sorely tempted to set it aside. I was struck by the fact that the author seemed to be telling the reader step by step how a reporter tracks down information, somewhat elementary and unnecessarily frustrating leaving me with a strong urge to say ‘get on with it’… which eventually he did.

The pacing picked up in the second half of the book and raced to an exciting conclusion… well almost….

This wasn’t one of my favourite Connelly books….but no doubt worth a look especially if you are a fan….

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, June 2020.

Book Review: Candidate for Murder by Lauren Carr @TheMysteryLadie @BooksbyAcorn @iReadBookTours

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Title: Candidate for Murder
Series: A Mac Faraday Mystery #12
Author: Lauren Carr
Narrator: C.J. McAllister
Publication Date: June 23, 2017

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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Candidate for Murder
A Mac Faraday Mystery #12
Lauren Carr
Narrated by C.J. McAllister
Acorn Book Services, June 2017
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

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 frontrunner, 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!

A number of years ago, a perfectly normal fellow named Mac Faraday learned that his biological mother was a very famous person and, on the day his acrimonius divorce became final, Mac inherited a vast fortune. Now, the retired homicide detective lives in a magnificent estate on a lake in Spencer, Maryland, with his beloved dog, Gnarly. Gnarly has a questionable past but his biggest issue these days is his kleptomania. Nothing is safe from being pilfered by this German Shepherd.

At the moment, the whole town is focused on the upcoming mayoral election. It was already contentious due to strained feelings between the locals and the summer crowd; now, it’s a no holds barred fight because David, Mac’s police chief brother, nominated Gnarly as the one to beat the other two unpalatable candidates, Nancy Braxton and Bill Clark. The door is wide open for probes into the pasts of all three and it doesn’t take long for someone to dredge up old accusations of cowardice against the war dog when his handler was murdered during deployment. That’s not all, though—soon enough, one of the nominees is found dead in mysterious circumstances and, as it turns out, there’s more than one murder afoot.

Gnarly’s past is a fascinating story and it takes David along with a number of friends and other family members to get to the truth about his cowardice charge and the murders. I loved spending time again with Gnarly’s pals, Shetland sheepdog Spencer, Basset Hound Newman and Belgian Shepherd Storm as well as assorted humans. Gnarly’s campaign managers, Bernie and Hap, are a hilarious addition to a story that is a full-throated investigation into murder, political shenanigans and national security issues while still being shot through with humor. Narrator C.J. McAllister offers a lively performance and distinct voices along with a good sense of timing and brings Ms. Carr’s terrific story to life. Highly recommended 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2020.

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Go Back to the Beginning to
When Mac Met Gnarly.

It’s Murder, My Son by Lauren Carr
A Mac Faraday Mystery #1
Lauren Carr
Narrated by Mike Alger
Acorn Book Service, June 2010
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

What started out as the worst day of Mac Faraday’s life would end up being a new beginning. After a messy divorce hearing, the last person that Mac wanted to see was another lawyer. Yet, this lawyer wore the expression of a child bursting to tell his secret. This confidence would reveal Mac as heir to undreamed of fortunes, and lead him to the birthplace of America’s Queen of Mystery and an investigation that will unfold like one of her famous mystery novels.

Soon after she moves to Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, Katrina Singleton learns that life in an exclusive community is not all good. For some unknown reason, a strange man calling himself “Pay Back” begins stalking her. When Katrina is found strangled all evidence points to her terrorist, who is nowhere to be found.

Three months later, the file on her murder is still open when Mac Faraday, sole heir to his unknown birth mother’s home and fortune, moves into the estate next door. Little does he know as he drives up to Spencer Manor that he is driving into a closed gate community that is hiding more suspicious deaths than his DC workload as a homicide detective. With the help of his late mother’s journal, this retired cop puts all his detective skills to work to pick up where the local investigators have left off to follow the clues to Katrina’s executor.

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About the Author

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

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s 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 ~ Goodreads ~ Books on Audible

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Follow the tour

Sep 1 –Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews – audiobook review of Candidate for Murder / giveaway
Sep 2 – Books for Books – book review of It’s Murder, My Son
Sep 2 – Blooming with Books – book spotlight of Candidate for Murder / giveaway
Sep 3 – Bound 4 Escape – book review of It’s Murder, My Son / giveaway
Sep 4 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – audiobook review of Candidate for Murder / giveaway
Sep 7 –Book Corner News and Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Sep 8 – Christa Reads and Writes – book review of It’s Murder, My Son / giveaway
Sep 8 – My Reading Journeys – audiobook review of It’s Murder, My Son / giveaway
Sep 9 –My Fictional Oasis – book review of Candidate for Murder
Sep 11 –Nighttime Reading Center – series spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Sep 11 –fundinmental – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 14 –Literary Flits – book review of It’s Murder, My Son / giveaway
Sep 15 –Jazzy Book Reviews – book review of Candidate for Murder / giveaway
Sep 16 –Books for Books – book spotlight
Sep 17 –Rockin’ Book Reviews – audiobook review of It’s Murder, My Son / guest post / giveaway
Sep 18 –My Journey Back – audiobook review of It’s Murder, My Son / giveaway
Sep 21 –My Journey Back – audiobook review of Candidate for Murder / giveaway
Sep 22 –Mystery Suspense Reviews – audiobook review of Candidate for Murder
Sep 22 – Mystery Suspense Reviews – book spotlight / author interview
Sep 23 – Books and Zebras @jypsylynn – book review of Candidate for Murder
Sep 24 –Bound 4 Escape – audiobook review of Candidate for Murder / giveaway
Sep 25 –Buried Under Books – audiobook review of Candidate for Murder / giveaway
Sep 28 – StoreyBook Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Sep 29 – Sefina Hawke’s Books – book spotlight
Sep 30 – Locks, Hooks and Books – audiobook review of Candidate for Murder / giveaway
Sep 30 – Blooming with Books – audiobook review of It’s Murder, My Son / giveaway
Oct 1 – Christa Reads and Writes – book review of Candidate for Murder / giveaway
Oct 1 – So Fine Print – book review of Candidate for Murder / giveaway
Oct 2 – Adventurous Jessy – book review of It’s Murder, My Son / giveaway
Oct 5 – Splashes of Joy – book review of It’s Murder, My Son / giveaway
Oct 6 – Literary Flits – book review of Candidate for Murder / giveaway
Oct 6 – Amy’s Booket List – audiobook review of Candidate for Murder
Oct 7 – Sylv.net – book spotlight
Oct 7 – My Reading Journeys – audiobook review of Candidate for Murder / guest post / giveaway
Oct 8 – Splashes of Joy – book review of Candidate for Murder / guest post / author interview / giveaway
Oct 9 – Nighttime Reading Center – audiobook review of Candidate for Murder / giveaway
Oct 9 – Adventurous Jessy – book review of Candidate for Murder / giveaway
TBD – Confessions of the Perfect Mom – book review of Candidate for Murder / giveaway
TBD – Confessions of the Perfect Mom – book review of It’s Murder, My Son / giveaway

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Giveaway

Win a $50 Amazon gift card courtesy
of
Lauren Carr, author of 

Candidate for Murder.

Enter here.

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Book Review: The Bonnet Book by Nancy Menees Hardesty @YABoundToursPR

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Check out my stop on the blog tour for
The Bonnet Book by Nancy Menees Hardesty!

Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // iBooks //
Smashwords // Amazon // Indiebound

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The Bonnet Book
Diary of an Orphan Train Hatmaker
Nancy Menees Hardesty
Solificatio, August 2020
ISBN 978-0-9977619-4-8
Trade Paperback

From the author—

Sent away on an orphan train at fourteen, smart and lovely Blanche Spencer lands in St. Louis, Missouri as a nursemaid, wearing rags and sleeping in a pantry. To rise above her servitude, she begins a self-education program. A trade booth at the 1904 World’s Fair and a Cobden, Illinois apprenticeship launch her into a hat-making career, which she documents in a tiny diary, The Bonnet Book.

An early example of self-determination and girl power, Blanche—now Bonnie—travels alone to the Wild West, where she’s presented with the chance of a lifetime and the possibility of love—both rife with challenges that test her drive, purpose in life, and sense of self.

The Bonnet Book diary and other historical items in the novel are real-life touchstones in this gripping, inspiring story based on the life of the author’s grandmother.

Imagine being a 14-year-old girl living a simple life in a family much too large for the very limited income her father earns as a teacher. It’s the turn of the 20th century and these conditions are not terribly unusual but things are getting worse, economically, and hard choices need to be made.

Blanche is a very intelligent girl growing up in a family that loves her, especially her father, but that same father makes a life-altering decision with no warning, a decision that sends Blanche into a future bereft of everything and everyone she’s known her entire life. Did he know what was in store for her, the years of servitude, or did he really believe she would be placed in a loving home full of opportunities she would never have if she remained in Oraville, Illinois? That’s something we can only guess at but, by setting Blanche on this path, he certainly changed her future dramatically.

The Bonnet Book is the tale of how this very resilient girl rose above her travails through her own efforts, determined to educate herself and develop a worthy trade, that of hatmaking, and learned to cope with the pain of abandonment. Along the way, I discovered how Blanche became Bonnie and shared in her adventures in the Wild West of Oklahoma. Based on the life of the author’s grandmother, it’s a fascinating story and I was completely captured by the way Blanche responded to her new life and was honored to see bits and pieces of her Bonnet Book diary.

Ms. Hardesty’s notes at the end and the photographs scattered throughout the book are equally fascinating and bring a vibrancy to this tale of a most uncommon girl. This is the best kind of historical fiction, a foray into a “real” person’s life in times very different from our own.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2020.

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An Excerpt from The Bonnet Book

Vinegar Dreams

Robey Household  •  St. Louis, Missouri

September 1902

A uniformed driver with a top hat steered the stylish carriage up Market Street, en route to the Robey household on West Bell Place.

Blanche watched her first city unfold before her blue eyes—tightly spaced buildings with unusual details; advertising services; a store with a carved fish over the entrance; a red-white-and-blue-striped pole at a barber shop; a ten-foot-high beer mug at a tavern. Their swift carriage followed other horse-drawn ones up the wide and busy boulevard. Sometimes they passed a double train car on a track in the center of the street. A city train, Blanche thought. None of what she saw seemed intimidating to her. It was just the first colorful page of her big-city adventure.

After twenty minutes, the carriage stopped at a three-story red-brick building with a glass vestibule. The building was much larger than a house, and it was in a cluster of eight similar buildings.

Blanche followed Mrs. Robey to the bathroom and closed the door. Just a few hours ago, she had seen a flush toilet and porcelain sinks for the first time. It was amazing how quickly one got used to these things! She came out feeling much refreshed.

“Blanche, Greta is cleaning the pantry for you. You can sleep there. You will have your own room for privacy, with a door and a light.” Mr. Robey closed the pocket watch and returned it to his vest pocket.

“Come, Blanche,” said Mrs. Robey. “Greta will walk you to the girls’ room to get your belongings. I have put your white dress in their closet. You can use your shawl as a bed cover.”

The two walked down the dark hallway, Blanche a few feet behind Greta.

As they returned to the kitchen, Blanche smelled the strong odor of vinegar coming from the pantry. Greta stepped aside as Mrs. Robey approached.

The pantry was only six feet wide, with floor-to-ceiling shelves and cupboards on both sides. It had no window and seemed airless. Opposite the pantry door was a built-in cabinet with a pull-out enamel surface for mixing dough. Below that were bins for flour and onions. Beyond the tall cabinet were two more cupboards containing baking supplies and bins of potatoes. The wall that backed the kitchen contained narrow shelves and was generously stacked with jars of jam, preserved vegetables, nuts, coffee, and spices. At the back wall were cleaning supplies, all stored neatly on old newspapers. This left a mere thirty-inch by six-foot space, with a floor drain in the middle. A single gas light hung by a bare cord from the ceiling.

“Well, here we are,” said Mrs. Robey.

Blanche saw a folded tarp with an old feather mattress over it. There was also a ragged pillow covered in purple floral fabric at the far end of the pallet, next to damp mops.

“You will be warm and dry here—much better than at the train depot. Greta will walk you to the bathroom, and then you can find your way back here on your own.”

“Yes, ma’am,” said a very tired Blanche.

Blanche finished her bathroom chores and found her way back to her bedroom, which she knew was really a kitchen pantry, not a bedroom. But on this first night, she was grateful for any safe place to sleep. She turned on the single dim light, closed the door, and took off her gingham dress, hanging it over the aprons. She got the pillow next to the wet mops and brought it over to the pantry door. The smell of vinegar and onions filled her nostrils. She turned out the light, leaned against the pantry door, and wiped a single tear from her cheek.

She thought about the day. She thought about the two sweet girls to whom she was assigned and their very reserved parents. She was in a home with nice furniture, lovely music, and good food. Maybe this was the beginning of “sweet hope” and new things to learn. But then here she was, about to sleep in an airless pantry.

It was not a happy space, but it was safe.

A sob came out as a choke.

Tonight I will have vinegar dreams, she thought. Sour and scary dreams.

She tumbled over and wrapped herself in the blue shawl.

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About the Author

Nancy Menees Hardesty, born in Illinois and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, moved to San Francisco, California in 1969. Nancy spent six years researching and writing her debut novel, The Bonnet Book. She had various family journals and artifacts and the extensive help of her mother, Mary Kay Menees, who was the daughter-in-law of the book’s protagonist, Bonnie Spencer. The tiny “Bonnet Book” of hat sketches and the wooden hat-supply trunk featured in the book are still in the author’s possession.

Facebook // Website 

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Follow the tour here.

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Giveaway

One print copy of The Bonnet Book

Enter here.

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Waiting On Wednesday (141) @garthnix @KTegenBooks

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: Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton @KiraJaneWrites @petkoff @HachetteAudio @GrandCentralPub

Hollow Kingdom
Kira Jane Buxton
Narrated by Robert Petkoff
Hachette Audio, August 2019
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the publisher—

S.T., a domesticated crow, is a bird of simple pleasures: hanging out with his owner Big Jim, trading insults with Seattle’s wild crows (i.e. “those idiots”), and enjoying the finest food humankind has to offer: Cheetos.

But when Big Jim’s eyeball falls out of his head, S.T. starts to think something’s not quite right. His most tried-and-true remedies – from beak-delivered beer to the slobbering affection of Big Jim’s loyal but dim-witted dog, Dennis – fail to cure Big Jim’s debilitating malady. S.T. is left with no choice but to abandon his old life and venture out into a wild and frightening new world with his trusty steed Dennis, where he suddenly discovers that the neighbors are devouring one another. Local wildlife is abuzz with rumors of dangerous new predators. Humanity’s extinction has seemingly arrived, and the only one determined to save it is a cowardly crow whose only knowledge of the world around him comes from TV.

What could possibly go wrong?

Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton is unlike any other zombie book I’ve read and I’ve read quite a few in my time. The story is told by S.T., a very well-educated crow (educated via the tv, internet and his human), and he first realizes something is wrong when Big Jim’s eyeball falls out.

Yeah, I know, sounds gross but…

This is the tale of how S.T. and his bloodhound, Dennis, set off to save the domestics who’ve been left behind, trapped, when the virus swept through humanity. Along the way, they encounter many other animals, wild and domestic, and a lot of them join in the mission. Most of the commentary is from our trusty crow but there are interludes from such creatures as an octopus and a polar bear.

There’s a great deal of humor and a few sad scenes that really tapped into my emotions but very little time is spent on gory zombie details so you don’t have to be concerned about that. This is all about the animals and the author clearly has a point to make, several points, in fact. BTW, this is not a kid’s or middle grade book despite all the animals, birds and sea creatures because S.T. can occasionally be foulmouthed and there are a couple of scenes in which animals get hurt (but even those have redeeming qualities).

The narrator, Robert Petkoff, does a great job with S.T.’s voice as well as a few others (especially the octopus) and his sense of pacing and comedic/emotional tones are spot on. My daughter read the print edition and was just as entranced. I know, Hollow Kingdom sounds, er, strange but I was completely captured and this is going on my list of best books read in 2020. A sequel, Feral Creatures, is in the works and I can hardly wait.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2020.