A Trio of Teeny Reviews

Ain’t She a Peach
Southern Eclectic #4
Molly Harper
Gallery Books, June 2018
ISBN 978-1-5011-5133-0
Trade Paperback

Once again, the McCready family of Lake Sackett, Georgia, is back in fine fettle with their McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop and, also once again, they’ve captured my heart. This time the focus is on Frankie, the youngish coroner/embalmer who considers herself well past the age of independence but her parents don’t know how to even begin to think of letting their precious only child spread her wings, so to speak. Sure, she sneaks off to Atlanta occasionally for a night of satisfying rowdiness but she can’t make herself move out (although she has disabled the location service they use to track her). There are very good reasons for this helicopter parenting but, really, she needs to grow a pair!

There’s a new Sheriff in town, Erik Linden, and while Frankie has a few, or a lot, of philosophical differences with Erik, including his queasiness around her dead customers, she’s finding it very hard to resist the man. Meanwhile, the rest of the McCready bunch are around and about and the town’s Halloween Trunk-R-Treat festival is coming up while a teenaged desperado has it in for Frankie for some reason.

The whole rambunctious McCready clan is a family I’d love to be part of and this fourth book in Molly Harper‘s series is just as much fun as all the others. Oh, I do hope there will be more!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2018.

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Jurassic, Florida
Hunter Shea: One Size Eats All #1
Hunter Shea
Lyrical Press/Kensington, June 2018
ISBN 978-1-5161-0793-3
Ebook

LOL, I’m still chuckling over this book and I have only myself to blame for not having indulged in Hunter Shea‘s work before. Polo Springs, Florida, is a quiet little place but people are starting to notice that the lizard population, specifically small iguanas, seems to be popping up everywhere. Not just popping up—slithering and scampering and the little beasts apparently have lost all fear. Not so the humans in this town, folks like Frank who’s running from the mob and Ann Hickok, the very unlikely mayor who’s only 18 years old. Everyone in Polo Springs has stepped into their own Godzilla movie and the future’s looking very, very dim.

Polo Springs is about to get a rude awakening and they’ll wish they had those little iguanas back. In scenes that are alternately grisly and scream-inducing but also high camp, we learn the answer to the question: can anyone save this town from the invasion of giant people-eating critters?

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2018.

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In His Kiss
Neil Plakcy
Featherweight Publishing, March 2018
ISBN 978-1-64122-112-2
Trade Paperback

There’s nothing easy about high school, as most of us know, but senior Michael has it worse than some. First of all, he’s gay. No big secret there but he’s almost painfully shy and definitely insecure when it comes to actually finding “the right one” or even one who will do for right now. He’s also saddled with his younger brother, Robbie, aka the Big Mistake and family life pretty much revolves around Robbie with his multitudes of allergies and other issues. On the positive side, he has an awesome best friend, Brie, and she makes life in Stewart’s Crossing, Pennsylvania, tolerable although Michael is way past ready to get out of Dodge.

And then along comes Daniel Florez and life for Michael will never be the same again. Luckily for him, Daniel has a little more self-confidence—really, he’s almost oblivious to what’s not supposed to work or maybe his home life has just given him a thicker skin so he’s not quite as vulnerable. Whatever it is, Daniel is not afraid to make the first move and the second and the third… Suddenly, things are looking up for these two really nice kids and the future might be bright but there are some side effects, including resentment from Brie, but why are strange things happening to Michael, like awesome SAT scores? And, minor detail, why is the FBI hanging around spying on Daniel?

With a bit of fantasy and a lot of high school angst, not to mention lots of humor and love of all sorts, Neil Plakcy has created a story that had me smiling a lot and cringing just a little (in a good way) and I definitely want to know what Michael and Daniel are going to be up to next ūüėČ

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2018.

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Book Review: The Girl’s Guide to the Apocalypse by Daphne Lamb

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Title: The Girl’s Guide to the Apocalypse 
Author: Daphne Lamb 
Publisher: Booktrope Publishing
Publication date: August 11, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, New Adult

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The Girl's Guide to the ApocalypseThe Girl’s Guide to the Apocalypse
Daphne Lamb
Booktrope Editions, August 2015
ISBN 978-1-5137-0118-9
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Welcome to the Apocalypse. Your forecast includes acid rain, roving gangs and misplaced priorities, in this comedic take on the end of the world as we know it, from debut author Daphne Lamb. As a self-entitled, self-involved, and ill equipped millennial, Verdell probably wouldn‚Äôt have ranked very high on the list of those most likely to survive the end of the world, but here she is anyway. Add in travelling with her work addicted boss, her boyfriend who she has ‚Äúmeh‚ÄĚ feelings for, and a handful of others who had no businesses surviving as long as they have, and things aren‚Äôt exactly going as planned. But despite threats of cannibalism, infected water supplies, and possibly even mutants, Verdell is willing to put in as little effort as she can get away with to survive.

The word “apocalypse” generally denotes horrible travail, the end of the world as we know it, loss of civilization, deaths in the millions, maybe even a zombie horde. That’s the kind of apocalyptic book I sincerely love and, quite obviously, so does Daphne Lamb…except her end of the world tale takes a decided turn to the left and upside down and we readers are taken on a wild and crazy ride. You might say this is “The Three Stooges Meet The Apocalypse” and I cackled my way right through to the finis.

Ms. Lamb has filled her story with every hilarious, satirical trope and cliché she could come up with and I loved every minute of it. Sure, there are some very serious scenes, as there must be, but then we have:

“We’re getting grilled cheese?” I asked. “What if I’m lactose-intolerant?”

when there’s been no steady supply of food. Then there’s this:

She pulled a small bottle of nail polish out of her skirt pocket. “Did you hear about my makeup party I’m having next week?”
I shook my head. “Now where on earth would you be having that?”
“Originally, it was going to be at my home, but now it looks like it’ll be in the break room,” she said. “Unless they get all this,” she motioned to the carnage lying on the freeway below us, “cleaned up. I’ll keep you posted, though.”

The central character, Verdell, isn’t the brightest person in the world nor the bravest by a long shot but she’s head and shoulders above some of her companions. Sort-of-boyfriend, Bruce, is determined to further his acting career now that he can actually meet an occasional entertainment celebrity and her boss, Robert, is oblivious to the new realities around him and finds solace in the pages of his tattered copy of Secrets to Risk Management. Meanwhile, Debra is tottering around on her platform heels and obsessing over the lack of healthy food choices. Verdell herself continually makes promises to God if He’ll just get her out of the crisis of the moment.

Plot? Nah, not really, but that’s quite all right with me. I still relish the serious sorts of post-apocalyptic stories but The Girl’s Guide to the Apocalypse was a most welcome diversion from the darkest side of doom ūüėČ

“We’re all dead!” Jake screamed. “We’re all going to die!”
I frantically looked around. “What was all that talk about staying calm—“

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2016.

About the Author

Daphne LambDaphne Lamb was raised in the wilds of Colorado and now resides in a very different wilderness known as Los Angeles. She is a comedian and award winning writer who has worked in television, film and video games. In her spare time, she enjoys collecting comic books, discussing awesomely bad movies and thinks about what it would be like to own a cat.

She loves connecting to fans and readers, so feel free to connect!

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Book Reviews: Reunion by Carl Brookins, Crashed by Timothy Hallinan, Don’t Ever Get Old by Daniel Friedman, and When the Past Haunts You by L. C. Hayden

ReunionReunion
A Jack Marston Mystery
Carl Brookins
Echelon Press, 2011
ISBN No. 978-1590806685
Trade Paperback

Jack Marston, a former investigator for the Navy, is now a student service director at City College in Minneapolis.¬† Jack is living with Lori Jacobs and Lori has just received an invitation to the reunion of the Class of 1989 in the town of Riverview. Lori isn’t too excited about going but Jack encourages her to accept the invitation.¬†¬† Lori accepts but wants Jack to attend the reunion functions with her.

The couple travel to Riverview to attend.¬† There are some interesting sounding events set up for the attendees at the reunion.¬† Jack takes a walk outside on the first night and finds a dead body and this won’t be the first murder to happen during the reunion.

Lori didn’t expect things to remain the same in Riverview but it isn’t the town that she remembers.¬† It seems that there are a lot of shady dealings going on and certain people will go to any length to keep their secrets hidden.¬† Jack is using his investigator skills to attempt to figure out what is actually going on in this crooked town and Lori is helping with her knowledge of the people.

The couple’s investigations lead them to a discovery that puts their lives on the line.¬† Can Jack possibly figure out a way to save them both before they become the next victims?

Reunion is a book that I didn’t want to end and I was surprised when the complicated plot and the actual murderer was finally revealed.

Carl Brookins is a retired professor, author and reviewer.  I would recommend Reunion as well as The Case of the Greedy Lawyers, another Brookins novel.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, September 2012.

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crashedCrashed
Timothy Hallinan
Soho Crime, November 2012
ISBN No. 978-1616952747
Hardcover

Junior Bender is a burglar but he has some rather unique ways of approaching his jobs.  Some of his methods will have you rolling on the floor laughing but they seem to work for him Рat least most of the time.  There are a few moments when the reader wonders if Junior will survive to steal another day.

An LA crime boss is producing a porn movie starring Thistle Downing. Thistle is a former child star who was loved by her fans but time has taken a toll on Thistle and she is currently living in a drug-induced stupor, destitute and uninsurable.  The movie would bring income to Thistle but would only send her further down her current path of destruction.

Junior is blackmailed into accepting the free-lance job of finding out who is sabotaging this movie.¬† His job is to keep the movie on track. The problem Junior is running into is that he likes Thistle and knows the movie is not the best thing for her even though she needs the money.¬† Junior sets out to fulfill his obligation but at the same time do right by Thistle and this isn’t an easy thing to do.¬† Junior has some very interesting friends who lend a helping hand ¬†along the way.

I want to read more and more about Junior.  He is a character that is full of charm and certainly has some interesting escapades.   Crashed is written in a totally different style from the Bangkok series.  This novel proves that Timothy Hallinan can entertain us with more than one type of novel and I for one want to read everything he writes.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, January 2013.

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Don't Ever Get OldDon’t Ever Get Old
Daniel Friedman
Minotaur Books, May 2012
ISBN No. 978-0312606930
Hardcover

Buck Schatz has been married to his wife, Rose, for 64 years.¬† Buck can be pretty set in his ways but when Rose speaks Buck does listen.¬† Rose insists that Buck go to the hospital to visit Jim Wallace.¬†¬† Jim is dying and is asking to see Buck.¬† Buck uses the excuse that he can’t drive to the hospital but Jim’s daughter Emily Feely agrees to drive him.¬† Jim and Buck have never been close but they did spend time together in a POW camp back in 1944.

Jim confesses to Buck that he had seen Heinrich Ziegler in France in 1946.  Ziegler was not a happy memory for Buck.  Zeigler was head of the POW camp and was very cruel to Buck, partly because Buck was Jewish but mostly because Ziegler was simply a very cruel individual.  Buck had heard that Ziegler was dead but Jim states that not only was Ziegler alive but he had given Jim a gold bar to let Ziegler go.

Buck having fulfilled his agreement to visit Jim is more than ready to return home and daytime TV.¬† A retired homicide detective, Buck has had many dangerous adventures in the past but is now pretty much content to just stay at home, visit the Jewish Community Center on occasion, eat Rose’s cooking and smoke Lucky Strikes.¬† Buck carries a “memory book” jotting down notes of things he needs to remember because at 87 a person can’t be expected to remember everything.¬† Buck can’t understand why he can’t light up a Lucky in public and that is just one of the many things Buck finds unacceptable.

But it seems that Jim Wallace told more than one person about Ziegler and the fortune in gold bars that Wallace seemed to think Ziegler possessed so soon Buck is very popular because some of these people think Wallace told Buck how to get his hands on the gold bars.

It turns out that Ziegler is still alive.¬† Buck’s grandson Tequila decides he will help out his Grandpa and find Ziegler and the gold bars.¬† So in spite of the fact that Buck isn’t too keen on this idea the two set out to bring home the treasure.¬† Buck’s almost forgotten detective instincts take over and soon the two have a very exciting adventure.

Don’t Ever Get Old is a joy to read, a wonderful story with great characters.¬† I am sure that all of us know some elderly person that has a lot of Buck’s attitudes.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, September 2012.

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When the Past Haunts YouWhen The Past Haunts You
A Harry Bronson Mystery
L. C. Hayden
Books by Hayden, February 2012
ISBN No. 978-1470074791
Trade Paperback

It would be difficult to find a happier married couple than Harry and Carol Bronson. Harry is retired from the Dallas police department and enjoys traveling with Carol.  Harry has been involved in a number of mysteries in spite of the fact that he is retired.

Carol Bronson would be the first to tell you that there are no secrets between her and Harry.  However, Carol is going to find out that this statement is not entirely accurate.  Harry has a huge secret that he has never discussed with his wife.  This secret is a sister that he has pushed to the back of his mind and never mentioned her existence to his wife.

Lorraine, Harry’s sister, had a terrible fight with Harry’s parents.¬†¬† She immediately left home and Harry had no further contact with her until recently when she began calling him.¬† Lorraine begs Harry to come to Pennsylvania and meet with her.¬† Harry finally agrees and they meet in a state park that had been a location for good childhood memories for both brother and sister.¬† However, before the two had a chance to reconnect Lorraine was shot and killed right in front of Harry and there was not one thing Harry could do to save her life.

Even though it was too late to reconnect with his sister, Harry is determined to learn all that he can about her life since she left home.¬†¬†¬† As Harry traces Lorraine’s life by following up on any information he can discover, he learns that she lived quite a different life than he imagined.¬† He also learned that she had never forgotten her brother and was always very proud of Harry and his accomplishments as a police officer.

Harry’s quest to learn everything about Lorraine’s past since she left home puts his life in danger but he has no intentions of giving up.¬† Harry intends to uncover all of Lorraine’s secrets and to bring her killer to justice.¬† Harry feels that this is the very least he can do for the sister he has ignored for all these years.¬† Lorraine’s life has involved people from every walk in life, from pimps to millionaires.¬†¬† Harry is in for many surprises as he investigates.

L. C. Hayden has written an exciting book that keeps the reader on edge every step of the way.  I have read several L. C. Hayden novels and would recommend them.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, March 2013.