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Friday, October 20, 2017

BOOK REVIEW + GUEST POST + GIVEAWAY! Death Overdue by Allison Brook

 Greetings Friends!

Today I have a review of Death Overdue by Allison Brook, the debut novel in the Haunted Library mystery series.  She has also graciously provided a guest post discussing why she chose a library as the setting for this cozy mystery.

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.


Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publication Date:  October 2017


Carrie Singleton is just about done with Clover Ridge, Connecticut until she's offered a job as the head of programs and events at the spooky local library, complete with its own librarian ghost. Her first major event is a program presented by a retired homicide detective, Al Buckley, who claims he knows who murdered Laura Foster, a much-loved part-time library aide who was bludgeoned to death fifteen years earlier. As he invites members of the audience to share stories about Laura, he suddenly keels over and dies.

The medical examiner reveals that poison is what did him in and Carrie feels responsible for having surged forward with the program despite push back from her director. Driven by guilt, Carrie’s determined to discover who murdered the detective, convinced it’s the same man who killed Laura all those years ago. Luckily for Carrie, she has a friendly, knowledgeable ghost by her side. But as she questions the shadows surrounding Laura's case, disturbing secrets come to light and with each step Carrie takes, she gets closer to ending up like Al.


Allison Brook is the pseudonym for Marilyn Levinson, who writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and novels for children. She lives on Long Island and enjoys traveling, reading, watching foreign films, doing Sudoku, and dining out. She especially loves to visit with her grandchildren on FaceTime.

You can connect with her on:



Why a Library? Why a Librarian?

by Marilyn Levinson

One of the most important decisions a cozy mystery author must make is choosing a hook and accompanying setting for her new series that appeal to both her publisher and her readers. Series featuring crafts have been very popular. Food-related series abound. And so I thought I’d venture farther afield to find another milieu that would appeal to cozy lovers.

I was at a drumming contest in my library’s beautiful park behind the parking lot when I suddenly had the basis of my new series. My setting would be a library. My sleuth the librarian responsible for selecting and running the many programs and events that libraries present nowadays.
Cozy mysteries are set in small villages where residents know one another. They’re familiar with one another’s strengths and foibles. And a library is a microcosm of a village. Patrons come to the library to check out books and films. They attend programs and classes, chat with neighbors and library workers. Often, the library is the heart of the village. A place where anyone and everyone can go—some for the peace and quiet the library setting provides.
I love the idea of my sleuth Carrie Singleton in my Haunted Library mystery series being Head of Programs and Events of the Clover Ridge Library. Her position allows her to mingle with the many library patrons and to meet new people who present library events.  In DEATH OVERDUE, the first book in my series, Carrie’s first big program features a retired homicide detective who claims to have solved a cold case he failed to solve fifteen years earlier. As the detective is questioning members of the audience about their relationships with the victim, he keels over and dies. Feeling responsible for his death, Carrie joins forces with the first victim’s younger son. Together they set out to find the killer or killers.
Like the centuries-old residences, restaurants and galleries built around Clover Ridge’s Green, the library was once a large private home. I decided it would be fun to add a ghost—of someone who used to work there and knows many of the library’s secrets. And when a gray cat with a bushy tail jumps into Carrie’s car as she’s about to go to work, she discovers Smoky Joe is the friendly sort and a purrrfect Library Cat.


I am a huge sucker for cozy mysteries that involve books in any way, and because I'm also a librarian, when those stories also feature libraries and librarians, I can't get my hands on them fast enough! I absolutely love visiting these little communities where there is a small, locally owned business for anything you could ever want or need, everyone knows everything about each other, and the librarian is the resident expert in homicide investigations! 

With just a hint of paranormal activity, this is a wonderfully light and fun choice to get into the Halloween spirit. Evelyn, a former librarian, haunts the library, but she is delightfully pleasant and extremely valuable in helping Carrie transition into her new role as the head of programs and events. While she only makes her presence known to a few people and doesn't come into the story very often, she is a great addition that I look forward to seeing more of as the series continues.

Although well written, the pacing would slow way down with so much description on the minutia of everyday life. I also started to feel that solving the mysteries became overshadowed by spending so much time in Carrie's new life and job with not much information to go on as to why Carrie would have taken it upon herself to look into these murders in the first place. Needless to say, these details do a great job contributing towards the upbeat and lighthearted nature of traditional cozy mysteries. When we are privy to the investigation, very few clues are revealed as the story unfolds, creating a well layered and plotted mystery that has to be read to the end in order to find out whodunit.

Overall, this was a well done debut. I can't wait to see the development in Carrie's character, the other situations she will find herself in, and what other programs she will create for the people of Clover Ridge to enjoy. I was thoroughly charmed by this haunted library and will definitely be checking out more of it!


Enter for your chance to win a print copy!

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Many thanks to Great Escapes Book Tours, Crooked Lane Books, NetGalley, and especially Allison Brook! It was a pleasure providing a review!

Friday, October 13, 2017

BOOK BLAST + GIVEAWAY: Her Final Watch by Marguerite Ashton

Greetings Friends!

Today I have a book blast for Her Final Watch by Marguerite Ashton, the second book in the Detective Blanchette mystery series.


Speaking second-hand truths can be deadly.
Detective Lily Blanchette will stop at nothing to solve a murder. Her current case involves the killing of an undercover cop working to bring down the mob for prostitution and drugs. But Lily's usual laser-like focus on the case has been disrupted.  
Two weeks earlier, she learned she was pregnant by her murderous husband whom she'd killed in self-defense. Unsure whether to keep her baby or place the child of this cruel man up for adoption, Lily keeps the pregnancy a secret from her colleagues. 
Under mounting pressure to solve the case, Lily arranges a sit-down with a local mob boss only to find out her suspect is also wanted by them. But before Lily can warn her team, she and her new partner, Jeremiah, are shot at, and another body is found. When she discovers Jeremiah has a connection with the underworld, she is pulled into a conflict that swirls around the boss's son who's hell-bent on revenge.  
To add to the complexity of the situation, Lily learns that her victim might still be alive if it wasn't for opportunistic Assistant District Attorney, Ibee Walters, who has a twisted vision of justice. 
As Lily gets closer to finding the killer, she unravels ugly secrets that point to Ibee and Jeremiah - placing Lily's life and her unborn child in danger. 
You can order your copy HERE.


When Marguerite Ashton was in her twenties, she took up acting but realized she preferred to work behind the camera, writing crime fiction. A few years later, she married an IT Geek and settled down with her role as wife, mom, and writer. Five kids later, she founded the Crime Writer’s Panel and began working with former law enforcement investigators to create; Criminal Lines Blog, an online library for crime writers who need help with their book research.

She’s a workaholic who hides in her writer’s attic, plotting out her next book and stalking Pinterest for the next avocado recipe. 

A member of Sisters in Crime, Marguerite grew up in Colorado, but is now happily living in Wisconsin and playing as much golf as possible.
You can connect with her on



Detective Ariel Weeks stabbed at the small block of ice until it split into several pieces across the counter. She tossed the jagged cubes into the glass and made her client a drink.

In less than twenty-four hours, Ariel would no longer have to use the name Jasmine and keep men company to protect her cover. All she needed to do was make it through this last night and she’d be allowed to be who she was; a mom just doing her job. 

After gathering evidence and recording all the data she had, it would be hard to detach. Towards the end, she’d learned things she wished weren’t true, leaving her stomach in tattered knots.

Back at home, there were two reasons Ariel would never take on another undercover assignment.


Ariel ground her teeth as the door to Cabin D opened and closed. She could feel Mikey Surace, the mob boss’s son, staring at the backless white dress she wore at his request.

The man who smiled at the sight of blood was standing behind her, breathing heavily.


Margueritte Ashton is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card!

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway ends at midnight October 31.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on November 1.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Many thanks to Marguerite Ashton and Pump Up Your Book!

I will have a review of this book up in November, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Books with Creepy Settings

Greetings Fellow Book Dragons!

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme within the book community that was created by Lainey of GingerReadsLainey, but is now hosted by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes.  If you're interested in participating, find out more on the Goodreads group.

This week's topic is BOOKS WITH CREEPY SETTINGS! Another great topic to help get us into the Halloween spirit! I'm definitely not one for gory horror, but I do love stories with spooky vibes and often those come because of the creepy settings. These may not be scary books, although that's a relative term given that things that might not scare one person can truly affect someone else. So with that in mind, let's chat about books that gave you the "heebie jeebies."

The Handmaid's Tale

A dystopian classic that paints a horrifying warning for a not so unbelievable future.

And Then There Were None

Ten people stranded on an island, each with their own unsettling pasts, are haunted by a nursery rhyme counting down to one as they are slowly killed off.

Bird Box

Something terrifying is out there, but no one has ever seen it. Read this and your imagination will thank you.

I See You

You just never know who is watching or ultimately who you can trust.

Serial Killers:  The Method and Madness of Monsters

In this book, Peter Vronsky documents the psychological, investigative, and cultural aspects of serial murder. This is an in-depth and exhaustive examination of serial murder and the murderers behind them. Being inside their heads will leave you reeling.

So, those are my picks. What are some of your favorite books with creepy settings? Let me know in the comments! My TBR can always use a reason to grow!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Sugar Pine Trail by RaeAnne Thayne (Light Romance)

Greetings Friends!

Today, I have a review of the newest book in the Haven Point series, Sugar Pine Trail by RaeAnne Thayne!

I was graciously contacted by the team at Little Bird Publicity and a copy of this book was sent to me for free in exchange for my honest and thoughtful review.  All thoughts, opinions, and feels are my own.


Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Release Date:  September 2017


Librarian Julia Winston is ready to ditch the quiet existence she's been living. She's made a list of new things to experience, but falling for Jamie Caine, her sexy military pilot neighbor, isn't one of them. Julia's looking to conquer life, not become the heartbreaker's latest conquest. But when two young brothers wind up in Julia's care for the holidays, she'll take any help she can get—even Jamie's. 

Happy to step in, Jamie reveals a side of himself that's much harder to resist. Not only is he fantastic with kids, he provides the strength Julia needs to tackle her list. She knows their temporary family can't last beyond the holidays, but the closer she gets to Jamie, the more she wonders if things could be this merry and bright forever.


New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne loves words.  Her love affair started as soon as she learned to read, when she used to devour anything she could get her hands on:  cereal boxes, encyclopedias, the phone book, you name it! She loves the way words sound, the way they look on the page and the amazing way they can be jumbled together in so many combinations to tell a story.  Her love of reading and writing those words led her to a fifteen-year career in journalism as a newspaper reporter and editor.

Through it all, she dreamed of writing the kind of stories she loved best. She sold her first book in 1995 and since then she’s published more than 40 titles. Her books have won many honors, including three RITA® Award nominations from the Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews.

RaeAnne finds inspiration in the rugged northern Utah mountains where she lives with her hero of a husband and their children. She loves to hear from readers and you can connect with her on:



This was my second visit to Haven Point and I absolutely loved it! While each book is capable of standing on its own, I'm slowly collecting the previous five novels so that I can go back to the beginning and become truly acquainted with this idyllic community. While there are some similarities between this book and the previous one, Serenity Harbor, that seem to create a formula for these types of stories and series, I didn't mind at all and couldn't wait to pick up where I left off. 

This installment follows Julia, the town librarian, and Jaime, a pilot for Caine Tech. This is again another slow burn romance between two very different individuals who ultimately bring out the best in one another. Both have very strong assumptions about the other based on some extreme generalizations, but in getting to know each other, their friendship builds towards an incredibly adorable romance that was so enjoyable to read. Their attraction to one another is only enhanced as they care for two little boys going through a very troubling situation with their mother who suffers from PTSD. Clint and Davey are incredibly sweet boys, and even in the face of such adversity, they bring an endearing and inspiring quality to this already heartwarming story. 

I am so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and gave these cozy light romances a chance. This story is filled with so much Christmas magic and hope that it will be a perfect choice to curl up with to greet the holiday season. Additionally, Thayne's writing style is so graceful that these stories begin to feel like you're coming home. As a veteran and someone who also struggles with anxiety and PTSD, I could empathize and identify with so much of what these characters were going through. I love her ability to take what could have been an otherwise cliche romance and craft it into a story featuring inspiring characters that are making a difference in the world around them. 

This was definitely a holiday hit that I will return to and I hope you'll get it a read as well!

Many thanks again to Little Bird Publicity and RaeAnne Thayne!  It was a pleasure providing a review!

Friday, October 6, 2017


Greetings Friends!

A few weeks ago we started up again with the Virtual Book Club for Kids. I'm a little behind in posting our wrap-ups, but for now, I had a chance to at least talk about what we did this past week!

Our pick for this week was Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt and we focused on activities featuring SQUIRRELS and ACORNS.


Scaredy Squirrel never leaves his nut tree. It's way too dangerous out there. He could encounter tarantulas, green Martians, or killer bees. But in his tree, every day is the same and if danger comes along, he's well-prepared. Scaredy Squirrel's emergency kit includes antibacterial soap, Band-Aids, and a parachute. Day after day he watches and waits, and waits and watches, until one day his worst nightmare comes true! Scaredy suddenly finds himself out of his tree where germs, poison ivy, and sharks lurk. But as Scaredy Squirrel leaps into the unknown, he discovers something really uplifting.



This is a really fun and funny book that examines the feelings of anxiety in a very child friendly way. There are so many meaningful and well-written messages presented in such a witty way that even adults can appreciate the reminder. Not only are children encouraged to know their fears, but they quickly learn that despite all your best efforts, things don't always go according to plan. And that doesn't always have to be a bad thing! Scaredy Squirrel helps us to understand that while routines are important, we can all be adventurous when we need to be. The illustrations are a fun-loving way to showcase the quirky humor presented throughout the book and create a welcoming way to draw kids into the story and start a conversation.


Here is a link to the official list of activities provided by the book club.

We gathered acorns at our local playground, which was a lot of fun. We ended up finding three different kinds, but the boys preferred the medium ones pictured below.

We used those acorns to do some muffin tin math, which is always a hit around here.

Maddox then played with them as part of a dice game, using this squirrel printable

Finally, we used some pinto beans and glued them on an acorn printable to reinforce mastery of the letter 'A.' This printable had tracing, so he was able to work on his grip for writing.

Jackson was much more involved in the acorn sensory bin I had set up. They added construction trucks and hauled the acorns around. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of that to share. It was simply dumping all the acorns in a plastic container and letting them decide how to play with it. I'm still finding "runaway" acorns around the house, but it kept them entertained and playing together, which always makes my day.

The following are all honorable mention activities that I had planned on doing, but as we know, life happens, so now they are a good reference for future use.

The boys couldn't get enough Scaredy Squirrel, so we had to find and read all the books in the series!

And if you're wanting more squirrel/acorn books, here are a few to check out:

So that was our week with squirrels and acorns.  Next up is FARMS with Click Clack Moo Cows That Type!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Books Featuring Witches

Greetings Fellow Book Dragons!

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme within the book community that was created by Lainey of GingerReadsLainey, but is now hosted by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes.  If you're interested in participating, find out more on the Goodreads group.

This week's topic is FAVORITE BOOKS FEATURING WITCHES! It's that time of year to start welcoming in the Halloween season and what better way to start then with witches! These books can be specifically about witches or simply feature witches as side characters.  Confession:  I found an article from Book Riot discussing the 100 Must-Read books about witches, which led me to realize that I honestly haven't read enough witch books to even put together a list! So with that in mind, this is actually my Top 5 TBR witch books!

In no particular order, here are my selections.


Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. 
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. 
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil. 
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she's a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.
In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha―one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles...and make a powerful choice.

In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford's Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.

Germany, 1660: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play. 
Magdalena, the clever and headstrong daughter of Bavarian hangman Jakob Kuisl, lives with her father outside the village walls and is destined to be married off to another hangman’s son—except that the town physician’s son is hopelessly in love with her. And her father’s wisdom and empathy are as unusual as his despised profession. It is 1659, the Thirty Years’ War has finally ended, and there hasn’t been a witchcraft mania in decades. But now, a drowning and gruesomely injured boy, tattooed with the mark of a witch, is pulled from a river and the villagers suspect the local midwife, Martha Stechlin.
Jakob Kuisl is charged with extracting a confession from her and torturing her until he gets one. Convinced she is innocent, he, Magdalena, and her would-be suitor race against the clock to find the true killer. Approaching Walpurgisnacht, when witches are believed to dance in the forest and mate with the devil, another tattooed orphan is found dead and the town becomes frenzied. More than one person has spotted what looks like the devil—a man with a hand made only of bones. The hangman, his daughter, and the doctor’s son face a terrifying and very real enemy.  

I did want to spotlight one of my favorite children's books featuring a witch.

Heckedy Peg

I absolutely loved this book as a child and can't tell you how many hours I've spent in my life staring at these illustrations! In this story, seven sweet children are transformed by an evil witch into specific types of food.

So, those are my picks. What are some of your favorite witch books? Let me know in the comments! My TBR can always use a reason to grow!