Book Review: Swamp Thing: Twin Branches by Maggie Stiefvater @mstiefvater @DCComics

Swamp Thing: Twin Branches
Maggie Stiefvater
Illustrated by Morgan Beem
DC Comics, October 2020
ISBN 978-1-401-29323-9
Trade Paperback

There have been innumerable iterations of DC Comics’ super-hero, the Swamp Thing. The monster that most resembles a mobile mound of plant matter first appeared in a comic book the summer of 1971. Inspiring films, television shows, an animated series and even participating in a Public Service Announcement; he generally fought to protect his Louisiana swamp lands, the environment as a whole, with hope for humanity.

Ms. Stiefvater’s graphic-novel, Swamp Thing: Twin Branches, illustrated by Morgan Beem, does feature an Alec Holland, albeit the youngest one I am aware of. Alec and his twin, Walker, are high-school students unexpectedly spending their summer in the dismal swamps of Virginia. While the two brothers seem to be as different as dark and light, collectively they are worlds away from their wilder, rambunctious cousins.

Walker will always be ready for more friends and tons of fun. Alec is entirely engrossed in his scientific experimentation of isolating plant memories and experiences from his beloved Boris and transferring them to a new seedling. Preoccupied and prickly generally, Alec was snarly about having to upend and move his fragile work. Transportation tumult adversely affected not only all of Alec’s hard work, but also the canine companions of his cousins.

As Alec focuses on resurrecting a year’s worth of work, he is surprised to meet like-minded folks in his new, communal, lab. Through his new acquaintances, he learns that these swamps have harbored their own secrets for quite some time.

I feel like this could be the introduction to a simply stellar Swamp Thing series. If so, I am all in.

Reviewed by jv poore, November 2020.

Book Reviews: Overturned by Lamar Giles and The Histronauts: An Egyptian Adventure by Frances Durkin and Grace Cooke @LRGiles @Scholastic @HistoriaFrankie @JollyFishPress

Lamar Giles
Scholastic Press, April 2017
ISBN 978-0-545-81250-4

I am always seeking books that will immediately intrigue ‘my’ students. Many times, I’ve been sucked into a suspense-filled, action-packed, heart-pumping mystery…surrounding a subject they could not care less about. Aptly, of course, young adults are not the intended audience—I am.


Young adult readers deserve thrilling books.

Mr. Giles seems pleased to provide. And now, I may be the only person looking forward to school starting. I cannot wait to share Overturned.

The setting: the very casino where 16-year-old Nikki Tate works…as well as resides, stimulates the reader’s senses. At a blush, that life-style—for a high-school student—sounds kinda fabulous. And it was. Once.

Without her dad around to run things, the responsibility falls straight through her mother’s trembling fingers into Nikki’s own hands. She can handle it. Has to. Knowing, with her whole heart, that her father is not capable of murder doesn’t keep him off death row. Someone has to support the family—not just the three of them; the trusted and treasured employees of Cosmos matter, too.

Otherwise, she would never consider running her own after-hours, under-the-table card games. Which were not really a big deal. There’s only one human better at poker than Nikki and he’s not here right now. Gavin may still be in his teens, but his bulk makes him the perfect bouncer. Maybe he has a few butterflies when her invitations are extended to some shady characters, but Nikki knows she’s got this.

Until something even odder than the initial arrest and murder charge. New evidence, and an attorney more than pleased to represent Mr. Tate, appears. Conviction overturned and Mr. Tate is head of his casino once again.

Nikki’s delight with his return was fleeting. She once believed he was always there when she needed him. Now, his presence is so far past smothering, she seethes when they share the same space. Determined to make up for the lost time, and hoping to find the sweet, happy Babygirl he remembers; her dad dives deeper into her life.

Although Nikki doesn’t see it at first, Mr. Tate is not as angry as he is horrified and frightened by what he finds. As dad works diligently to get his daughter out of the quick-sand she doesn’t know she’s standing in, Nikki consistently (albeit unintentionally) blocks his way with a combination of teen-age infatuation and obligatory rebellion.

Overturned by Mr. Giles is absolutely every single thing I wish for when I want to wow ‘my’ students with a Book Talk.

Reviewed by jv poore, July 2019.


The Histronauts: An Egyptian Adventure
Frances Durkin and Grace Cooke
Jolly Fish Press, January 2019
ISBN 978-1-63163-239-6

I don’t know if Ms. Durkin and Ms. Cooke colluded to create a tiny tome that would call to all; from the self-dubbed non-reader to the basic bookworm, but that’s exactly what this groovy graphic-novel does.

Filled with fascinating facts, in the same way a teeny car contains a multitude of clowns, this was a particularly pleasing read for me. An at-a-glance timeline from 5,000 BC through 30 BC took up only a tiny portion of a page, but was packed with information. I had no idea that Egypt was divided and reunited so many times! Nor could I have fathomed the complicated process of turning papyrus into paper.

The “novel” is in the narration. The Histronauts, a quirky crew, complete with a cat, needed an indoor activity on a rainy day. Their museum visit morphs into an adventurous Egyptian exploration. As the kids take in the sights and ask amazing questions, I am completely captivated, learning about ancient Egyptians and their way of life. And if all of that isn’t enough, there are even activities through-out. From making jewelry to flatbread or simply solving puzzles, these were engaging additions.

I believe that reluctant readers will enjoy this because of the tantalizing trivia and the graphic-novel-format seems to be more appealing for shorter attention spans. I think avid readers will be reeling from the intriguing information. I was totally into it. And truly, who knew there more than 2,000 ancient Egyptian gods? Or that music was such an imperative part of their lives?

The Histronauts also embark on a Roman adventure and I am already looking forward to joining them.

Reviewed by jv poore, December 2018.

Book Reviews: Bad to the Bone by Linda O. Johnston and SALT by Daniel Boyd

Bad to the Bone
A Barkery & Biscuits Mystery #3
Linda O. Johnston
Midnight Ink, May 2017
ISBN 978-0-7387-4628-9
Trade Paperback

Everyone in Linda Johnston’s latest cozy mystery owns a dog, and they all want to feed their furry friends treats. That’s a good thing for Carrie Kennersly, a veterinary technician who owns Barkery & Biscuits, a bakery that sells healthy snacks for pets. The store is next to her people bakery, Icing on the Cake. A large pet food company, VimPets, wants to buy some of Carrie’s recipes to add to their line of products. Jack Loroco, the local sales representative for VimPets, has been trying to convince her that it would be a win/win situation for her.

Enter Wanda Addler, a VimPets employee who is trying to woo Carrie to deal with her. She’s attractive, brash, and not above manipulating people to get her way. Wanda has discovered that Jack is dating local city councilwoman Billi Matlock, and threatens his job security. When Wanda is found stabbed to  death in the parking lot behind the Knobcone Heights Resort, both Jack and Billi are suspects.

An  entertaining mystery set in a resort town in southern California. Two recipes are included—one for people and one for dogs.

Reviewed by Susan Belsky, June 2017.


The World After CARBON
Daniel Boyd & Predrag Ivanovic (Illustrator)
Caliber Comics, November 2016
ISBN 978-1-9423516-9-6
Trade Paperback

I open a new Daniel Boyd graphic novel feeling the same anticipation-tingle-of-excitement that I get pulling off the top of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.  Diving into SALT: The World After CARBON was like my first taste of Boom Chocolatta! Cookie Core.  Immersed in fond familiarity, awaiting the unexpected ingredient, it was so easy to indulge and just enjoy.

Until the caffeine kicked me into the adventure and the ferociously fast-paced action invaded my mind, capturing my focus.  Art erupts from the pages.  Adrenaline-inducing drama, cliff-dangling suspense and baseball are accounted for and in full force.  Corrupt politicians ignore the environmental impact of hydro-fracturing, causing conflict with the folks that want clean water; a right-here-right-now-relevance.  The Cookie Core is an unlikely combination of West Virginians that dismiss and destroy stereotypes by performing super-heroic actions, otherwise known as doing exactly what they’ve always done—sticking together to fight the good fight.  Nature Ned is a delightful addition, definitely a deeply desired, chocolate cookie crumb.  The River Rat reprise is the caramel that is not like the other things and shouldn’t belong, but inexplicably works perfectly.  And serves as a reminder of this author’s ornery streak.

I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Boyd’s recent release.  It pleased me tremendously and gave me plenty to think about, but…..without the ice-cream headache.

Reviewed by jv poore, February 2017.

Book Review: I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

I Am Princess XI Am Princess X
Cherie Priest
Illustrated by Kali Ciesemier
Arthur A. Levine Books, June 2015
ISBN 978-0-545-62085-7

Themes of friendship, caring, and courage are common to both the mystery and the graphic novel sections of this enthralling young adult novel. Pre-teens, May and Libby, ignore their differences and begin a lasting friendship when they create the world of Princess X. May thinks up the stories, Libby draws the pictures, and Princess X, with her katana sword, fights all manner of monsters, ghosts, and creepy characters from her haunted house on the hill. The girls’ world revolves around their stories until they are teens.

Then, Libby is gone, and May is left to be lonely. She misses both her best friend and Princess X. Until—three years later, May starts finding stickers, memorabilia, and finally a new popular website devoted to the story of Princess X. May is determined to find out how her old stories and perhaps Libby have somehow reappeared.

With the help of some new unconventional friends and a whole lot of courage, May looks for the clues she needs to solve her mystery. It takes some Jason Bourne-like dangerous snooping and some genius Mission Impossible computer hacking, all for the cause, a cause which turns out to be of life and death importance.

Readers fourteen and up will enjoy the action in the story and the clever way clues are left in the fantasy graphic art. Readers should be old enough to discern that the dangerous and illegal activities in the story are there for tension and suspense and require a suspension of disbelief.

Cherie Priest’s first foray into young adult literature is a success with this thriller/graphic novel/friendship story.

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

Book Reviews: Carbon by Daniel Boyd, The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, and The Equalizer by Midge Brubany

Daniel Boyd
Illustrated by Edi Guedes
Caliber Comics, August 2014
ISBN 978-0-9857493-3-0
Trade Paperback

There is a shared admiration for super-heroes. Respect, fondness, amazement, perhaps a twinge of jealousy; all are valid emotions upon consideration of caped crusaders. On the other side of the coin, genuine heroes tend to slip under the radar. Self-effacing members of society lead their lives without creating adverse effects for their community. These people seem to always be the first to react in a situation by lending a hand, even when putting themselves into precarious places. Why? It is not a cognizant decision; rather a natural inclination to do the right thing.

Carbon, like all good graphic novels, is packed with heroes and villains (and yes; a few hot, scantily clad females). Initially, coal-miners painted with a heroic brush may seem peculiar. On second thought though, living in coal counties means bearing witness to endless sepia tones created by coal dust coating every surface and embedding in each crevice. Social gatherings revolve around funerals for those ripped away far too soon and support for the families suddenly without a cherished loved one; robbed of the much needed income. Dismal, yes; but abominable because it doesn’t have to be this way.

Mr. Boyd would be the first to say that he writes to entertain and that Carbon is no exception. To that end, it is a masterpiece of action and adventure. This graphic novel provides unique perspectives on all things; beginning at the true beginning: creation. Compelling, genuine characters are relatable and unattainable. This cast includes a bad-ass baseball player; the gruff, grizzled, yet essentially kind mine workers, my personal favorite: the River Rat (aka as White Water River Guide), and The Man (He Who Gets Rich From The Fruit of Their Labors). His greed endangers the lives of his producers, yet he has no qualms. There aren’t many career opportunities in these areas. The Human Resources pool is large, rendering individuals expendable. For all of his brilliance in cutting corners to grotesquely increase his wealth, he makes an integral mistake.

He underestimates the miners. The Man, focused only on monetary values, is willfully oblivious to the reasons these men work under such dire conditions. Love, family, friendship and community create a strong, unbreakable bond, thus turning apparently ordinary folks into true, awe-inspiring heroes.

So much happens in this volume that I’ve carried it around with me for months now. There are some (who shall remain nameless) that only refer to me as “Comic-Con Girl”. I’m good with that. I want to be seen with this publication. I hope to generate curiosity, and I aspire to pique curiosity for what will be a fascinating trilogy. My fellow readers, if you seek something absolutely unlike anything you’ve read, this is it.

Reviewed by jv poore, October 2014.


The Iron TrialThe Iron Trial
Magisterium #1
Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Scholastic Press, September 2014
ISBN 978-0-545-52225-0

I am sure this series will be compared to Harry Potter and yes, there are similarities to that series as well as moments that made me remember the beginning of The Hunger Games and Divergent. But The Iron Trial really has its own story and Callum Hunt does not turn out to be the next Harry Potter.

The Iron Trial refers to the entrance exam into the Magisterium, a five-year school of magic: Iron, Copper, Bronze, Silver and Gold. First year students are in their Iron year. Callum does not want to attend the Magisterium and tries to fail. Still, he is selected and forced to go over the objections of his only living parent, his father.

Where The Iron Trial really excels, I think, is in its wonderful descriptions of the imaginative surroundings at the Magisterium. It’s exciting to picture the place and watch the characters discover its many delights. The Iron Trial drags a little, I think, when boring tedious tasks are assigned to be mastered by our group and it takes so long that this reader felt the tedium right along with the characters.

I hope that as the series develops, so will the main characters. There is little Callum knows about himself, about who he is and so we are kept in the dark as well, for most of the book. I knew it is the first book in a five-book series and I liked the twists and turnabouts sprinkled throughout the plot. I particularly enjoyed the ending. It’s satisfying as a novel on its own as well as an inviting set up for the series. If you’re unsure whether or not you want to keep reading, I strongly suggest that you do. People and things are not as they appear.

Reviewed by Constance Reader, September 2014.


The EqualizerThe Equalizer
Midge Bubany
North Star Press of St. Cloud, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-87839-737-2
Trade Paperback

Young County Deputy Sheriff Cal Sheehan is reveling in his recent ascension to the title of deputy investigator. Now he needs a serious crime to work on. Alas, his day does not begin well. While responding to the call to investigate the discovery of a body at a local park, he is rear-ended at a stoplight in town. The impact puts his small vehicle directly in the path of a heavier auto which proceeds to T-bone Cal, putting his transportation in wrecking candidacy. The acquisition of a new vehicle, plays a useful element in the novel.

This is Ms. Brubany’s debut novel and if it is successful, as this reviewer hopes it will be, this cast of small-town characters and mystery readers will be in for some fraught and enjoyable times.

Central to the story is Cal Sheehan, young, horny, attractive, bright and alert to nuances of mannerism during suspect and witness interviews. His efforts to find the truth and the necessary evidence to solve this interesting multiple-murder are worth watching. The writing is first rate and characters and settings are well developed. If a sojourn to Las Vegas seems a bit beyond the pale, well, those scenes are nicely handled and the conclusion of the tale is logical and satisfying.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, November 2014.
Author of Red Sky, Devils Island, Hard Cheese, Reunion.

Book Reviews: If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth, Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters by Suzanne Weyn, and Chillers Book Two by Daniel Boyd, creator

If I Ever Get Out of HereIf I Ever Get Out of Here
Eric Gansworth
Arthur A. Levine Books, August 2013
ISBN 978-0-545-41730-3

This Middle-Grade novel comes out this month (August 2013).  The timing is serendipitous, as the book begins with an “Indian” (Native American) entering Jr. High.  While, on the surface, his trials and tribulations appear to be based on ethnicity and, in turn, poverty, the facts are that many students entering Jr. High (or Middle School) this year will experience the same taunting, teasing and bullying that Lewis tolerates.  Maybe a student will be singled out due to ethnicity, body shape, hair color, name or wardrobe.  The results are the same, which is why I strongly recommend this book.  Although a work of fiction, the core issues are very, very real and kids need to know that they are not alone.

It is so easy to recognize exclusion and to immediately attribute it to race, ethnicity, size or social class, when maybe that is not exactly the case.  The old chicken or egg.  Yes, maybe Lewis was ostracized, at first, because of his red skin and low socioeconomic standing.  Maybe, that initial reaction caused him to be defensive and to toughen up.  But, what about the next year?  Is it possible that he carries the defensiveness with him?  If so, maybe people are turned off, not by the color of his skin, but by the prickliness in his personality.

Another aspect of this book that I truly love: friendship.  As Lewis leaves behind the kids he has grown up with to attend a “White” school, he begins to learn the difference between true friendship and friendship by default.  He sees that although he has grown up with and hung out with someone almost every day of his life, that person may not actually be a true friend; whereas a new guy, free with unsolicited advice, may turn out to be the best friend he’s ever had.  This is the most realistic portrayal of a true friendship between boys that I have ever seen.  The strength and loyalty become clear based on actions and secrets kept hidden, rather than articulated enthusiastically as tends to be the case with girls.

This story, set in 1977 and filled with Beatles and Paul McCartney references, is remarkably well-written.  The prose is not flowery or lyrical; rather, it is a bit raw—exactly as it should be for the subject matter.  The simplicity is deceiving.  Mr. Gansworth manages to say more, with fewer words.   I experienced many emotions while reading this book.  I felt sad for the nastiness Lewis is constantly faced with, I felt frustrated with him for not trying a bit harder—for seeming to be too stubborn.  The random acts of kindness filled me with joy, and the show of true friendship renewed my hope.

Reviewed by jv poore, July 2013.


Dr. Frankenstein's DaughtersDr. Frankenstein’s Daughters
Suzanne Weyn
Scholastic Press, January 2013
ISBN 0-545-42533-9

Imagine being orphaned at birth, knowing nothing of your mother or father, only to find out 17 years later, that your father was on the run and considered a lunatic.  Despite this, the mysterious man owned a castle and had managed to amass a huge amount of money, which he left for the daughters he never knew.  Oh, and he happens to be Dr. Frankenstein.

Okay, that part is really a bigger deal to the reader than to the main characters.  No one knew what Dr. Frankenstein had accomplished.  The name did not bring to mind a flat-headed, greenish/gray man that walked like a robot with his arms outstretched.  None of the characters in the book compulsively shout out “It’s aliiiive!” at the mention of Frankenstein’s name.

The discovery of their father’s name, along with the receipt of a gargantuan inheritance, begins the story of twin girls, Giselle and Ingrid.  Although identical, Giselle is considered “the beauty” as she is quite fond of her looks and spends a great deal of time primping.  She wants to entertain the world.  Ingrid is absorbed with the practice of medicine.  The book is set in the early 1800s;  women were forbidden to obtain an education.  Ingrid had to do her studies behind closed doors or dressed as a man.

The girls quickly relocate to the castle.  As Giselle spends day and night cleaning and decorating the castle, Ingrid obsesses over her new treasure, her father’s journals.  Giselle is planning a huge party to fill the castle.  Ingrid couldn’t care less about the party, aside from coaxing Giselle to invite prominent doctors and researchers so that she could discuss her new theories about limb regeneration.  As life goes on, Ingrid becomes quite taken with an injured man in a small cottage near the castle, Giselle continues working feverishly, and the town becomes nervous as men begin to go missing.

The initial premise of the book is intriguing enough for anyone to grab it off of a bookshelf.  Once in hand, the story quietly snares the reader and draws him in.  On one hand, the readers see a bit of romance begin to bloom. It is sweet, but clearly complicated. Will love prevail or will the fear of heartache keep it dormant?  Worse, will a slow, painful and untimely death rip them apart?

On the other hand, the reader begins to sense mystery and danger slowly surrounding Giselle, like a fog creeping in.  Men are disappearing.  Some are later found, as mangled corpses.    Who is doing this?  The reader (having the advantage of knowing about Dr. Frankenstein’s creation) may believe that the monster is exacting revenge on the unsuspecting and totally unaware girls.  But that seems a bit too pat, so surely, it is someone else, right?

I won’t tell, but I promise that if you read the book, the answers to these questions will surprise you.

Reviewed by jv poore, April 2013.


Chillers Book TwoChillers: Book Two
Daniel Boyd, creator
Transfuzion Publishing, March 2013
ISBN 978-0-9857493-6-1
Trade Paperback—Graphic Novel

I’ve always been a spooky little girl.  Growing up in West Virginia, I was surrounded by “True Ghost Stories”.  I could tell them all by the time I was 8 years old.  A couple of years later, a teacher called my mom to tell her that I was reading “inappropriate books” by John Saul and Stephen King.  To which my mother replied, “Yep.”  I’ve seen every episode of The Twilight Zone…..multiple times.  I love “scary”; the creepier the better.  I long for the blood in my veins to turn to ice, to feel the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up, the feeling that I must look over my shoulder…..several times.  I continue to seek this out in books.  Yet, I have been missing something: The Graphic Novel.  Well, specifically Chillers, followed by Chillers: Book Two.

I believe Mr. Boyd explains the “Graphic Novel” best as an “…accommodating venue for short story telling of the fantastic.”  To me, graphic novels are overlooked by self-limiting.  People who happily plough through horror novels may turn up their noses at the suggestion of a graphic novel.  It is embarrassing to admit, but I was one of those people.  I was wrong.

The common theme throughout Chillers: Book Two is “da bus” to Hell, driven by Peterr Jesus.  Someone always gets on the bus, but it is certainly not always the person the reader expects.  While I appreciated the common eerie factor shared in each story, I delighted in the uniqueness as well.  A welcome surprise was my immediate appreciation of the illustrations.  The artwork is simply amazing and always succeeds in setting the absolute perfect background for each tale.

Mr. Boyd’s “Sin Flowers” shows that sometimes, revenge is the only answer….even if it means boarding Peterr’s bus.  Although this is quite the chilling little tale, there is also love, survival, but maybe one too many disappointments.

As a perfect wrap-up to ‘Shark Week’, Mr. Bitner’s “Live Bait” introduces a cantankerous, flippant old man with complete disregard to human life.  Well, until it is his own life at stake.

Another tale includes tracking and devouring cryptids, such as the Yeti.   One story demonstrates how, sometimes, promises must be broken in order to bring closure and justice.  A personal favourite of mine features a money-grubbing, nasty broad getting her comeuppance in a grizzly, yet oddly comical way.  First time I’ve caught myself wincing and chuckling at the same time.  Yet another creeped me out so much that I never want to see a painting of myself, or, quite frankly, anyone or anyplace I care about.  Still get chills thinking of that freakshow.

I relished each and every macabre adventure in this book, and I highly recommend it to all fans of horror.  Read it.  If you dare.

Reviewed by jv poore, August 2013.

2009 Top 40 at Creatures 'n Crooks

This time, the Top 40 is a bit weird since we closed the shop at the end of September and sales then dropped off dramatically.  Here it is, though, in all its glory—

1.    The Merlot Murders—Ellen Crosby
2.    Pride and Prejudice and Zombies—Seth Grahame-Smith
3.    Lament—Maggie Stiefvater
4.    The Clockwork Teddy—John J. Lamb
5.    The Chardonnay Charade—Ellen Crosby
6.    The Killer Collection—J.B. Stanley
7.    The Mournful Teddy—John J. Lamb
8.     Shiver—Maggie Stiefvater
9.    The Bordeaux Betrayal—Ellen Crosby
10.  The Book of Lies—Brad Meltzer
11.  Death of a Cozy Writer—G.M. Malliet
12.  Carbs & Cadavers—J.B. Stanley
13.  Haunted Richmond—Pamela K. Kinney
14.  Eight—Katherine Neville
15.  Good Omens—Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
16.  Castaways—Brian Keene
17.  A Test of Wills—Charles Todd
18.  Dating Dead Men—Harley Jane Kozak
19.  House of Night #1: Marked—P.C Cast & Kristin Cast
20.  Posed for Murder—Meredith Cole
21.  Dead and Gone—Charlaine Harris
22.  Killer Hair—Ellen Byerrum
23.  Desden Files #11: Turn Coat—Jim Butcher
24.  The Killer’s Wife—Bill Floyd
25.  Red Rain—Tim Wendel
26.  The Graveyard Book—Neil Gaiman
27.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—J.K. Rowling
28.  Breaking Dawn—Stephenie Meyer
29.  Watchmen—Alan Moore
30. The Last Embrace—Denise Hamilton
31.  Soulless—Gail Carriger
32.  Un Lun Dun—China Mieville
33.  I Can Haz Cheezburger?—Professor Happycat
34.  Tales of Beedle the Bard—J.K. Rowling
35.  Warriors #1: Into the Wild—Erin Hunter
36.  House of Night #2: Betrayed—P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
37.  Pushing Up Daisies—Rosemary Harris
38.  Mean Streets—Jim Butcher et al
39.  Christmas Is Murder—C.S. Challinor
40.  Hollower—Mary SanGiovanni