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review 2017-10-14 05:52
Quick Holiday Read
Underneath My Christmas Tree (Love in a ... Underneath My Christmas Tree (Love in a Small Town Book 6) - Tawdra Kandle

Underneath My Christmas Tree by Tawdra Kandle is a fairly short holiday read, perfect for those with limited time for reading.  Ms Kandle has delivered a well-written book.  The characters are sweet and lovable.  Elizabeth is a lawyer and not a fan of Christmas.  Trent is selling Christmas trees from the parking lot of her law office to help his uncle. Their story is a holiday romance with bits of drama, humor and sizzle.  I enjoyed this story but I think I would have enjoyed it more if it wasn't written in first person.  This is a complete story, not a cliff-hanger.

 

I voluntarily read an Advance Reader Copy of this book that I received from NetGalley.

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text 2017-10-12 22:14
Small-Town Face-Off by Tyler Ann Snell @professorsnell
Small-Town Face-Off (The Protectors of Riker County) - Tyler Anne Snell

A very enjoyable suspense read. All the threads to the plot are out there, and they're brought together nicely, with a terrific action-filled ending. I especially liked the easy-flowing and natural dialogue. Very often in romances involving law enforcement, there's lots of jargon thrown in, but there's little of that here.

 

Here's the blurb:

 

Bound to protect and serve, sheriff Billy Reed has tried to let his career be enough. But he could never forget Mara Copeland, the woman who left without a goodbye and hurt him without warning. Now she's back with criminals on her trail and a child in her arms. His child. 

Mara didn't trust the future she and Billy could've had. He's a lawman and she was born into a world of ruthless criminals. Still, he's the man she can turn to. He'll do anything to protect their daughter, but will love be reason enough to forgive Mara and bring their family back together?

 

I liked both the protagonists. Billy isn't the fastest thinking hero--he likes to think things through, which is a nice change from other heroes who seem to be able to make instantaneous right choices under all conditions. I especially liked Mara. She's learned the right things from her criminal father, like staying cool under pressure, and rejected the wrong things. Unless her child is threatened, she's the one who stays on an even keel, whereas Billy has to keep a constant check on his emotions. But he has great empathy, which is endearing. And his best friend is a woman, which is a nice change. A lot of the Intrigues are a male bonding fest, but it's Suzanne, his ex-police partner, who has his back when it gets difficult.The rekindling of the romance develops naturally, with the inevitable hiccups nicely resolved. 

 

Recommended. 

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review 2017-10-06 18:30
Halloween Carnival Volume 4, edited by Brian James Freeman
Halloween Carnival Volume 4 - Kealan Patrick Burke,C.A. Suleiman,Ray Garton,Brian James Freeman,Bev Vincent

 

It's that time of year again and my pile of books to read is towering! I had to choose which of the Halloween Carnival books I was going to request because I knew I wouldn't have time to read all 5. The reason I chose Volume 4 was because of 2 authors-Kealan Patrick Burke and Ray Garton. They didn't disappoint! These and another story stood way out for me, and here's a bit on each of them:

 

The Mannequin Challenge by Kealan Patrick Burke is the first story and it's killer. Maybe it's because I love the kind of tales that are just plain weird and offer NO explanation-they just ARE. A quiet and reclusive man decides to attend the Halloween party at work, just this one time. What will he find? You'll have to read it to find out! This one made me laugh out loud with delight.

 

Across the Tracks by Ray Garton was a blast. For whatever reason, to me this tale had a distinct Ray Bradbury feel to it, but I think the ending might've even blown Bradbury himself away. What fun!

 

The Halloween Tree I've seen Bev Vincent's name around and I am friends with him on various social media, but I believe this is the first time I've read one of his stories. I enjoyed it! Any kid with an imagination can make something scary from an inanimate object. In this tale, it's a tree. But what made this story different was how the kids dealt with the problem. I found this to be the most surprising story in the bunch and it made me smile.

 

I did enjoy the other two stories in this anthology, but these three stood tall and they alone are worth the price of this book. The other two are just the gravy on top!

 

Recommended!

 

You can pre-order your copy here: Halloween Carnival Volume 4

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and to Hydra for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2017-10-04 06:26
Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel (audiobook) by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor, narrated by Cecil Baldwin, guest starring Dylan Marron, Retta, Thérèse Plummer, & Dan Bittner
Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel - Dylan Marron,Jeffrey Cranor,Cecil Baldwin,Retta Andresen,Joseph Fink,Harper Audio,Dan Bittner,Therese Plummer

I’ve been a fan of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast for a while (although I’m woefully behind at the moment), so I was very excited when this book was first announced. I’ve owned it in two different formats since it first came out in 2015, but I kept putting off reading it because I couldn’t decide which format to start with, audio or paper. I finally settled on audio, figuring that something that started as a podcast would be better that way. Now that I’ve finished it, I feel like I made the right decision.

Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel stars Jackie Fierro, a nineteen-year-old pawn shop owner, and Diane Crayton, a single mom with a shapeshifting teenage son named Josh. As far as Jackie knows, she’s been nineteen forever and has owned her pawn shop forever. She doesn’t really think too hard about any of that until a strange customer, the Man in the Tan Jacket, comes in and gives her a slip of paper she literally can’t put down. Whenever she tries to get rid of it, it ends up right back in her hand. All it says is “King City.” Even worse, Jackie suddenly can’t write anything except “King City,” making it impossible for her to do her job.

Meanwhile, Diane’s life seems perfectly normal until one of her coworkers disappears. No one but her even remembers he existed, and it’s a mystery she can’t bring herself to leave alone. Her situation is further complicated by her son’s sudden desire to talk to his father. Diane would rather never talk about Josh’s father. Unfortunately, she keeps seeing him everywhere she goes. It gradually becomes apparent that the solution to both Jackie and Diane’s problems lies in the mysterious and possibly unreachable King City.

I vaguely recall one of the announcements about this book stating that it was written to be Night Vale newbie-friendly. Although, according to the Welcome to Night Vale wiki, Jackie, Diane, and Josh had all previously been mentioned in the podcast, I didn’t remember a thing about them and was still able to follow their stories just fine. That said, I don’t agree that this book is newbie-friendly, and I’d advise newbies to listen to at least a few episodes of the podcast before giving the book a try.

I went into this expecting it to be more like a normal genre novel. Instead, what I got was something that felt exactly like the podcast, except without weather reports, separate narrators for all the characters, and Cecil Palmer keeping the whole thing anchored. It took a long time for the connection between Jackie and Diane’s stories to become apparent. If I felt somewhat adrift and confused, I can only imagine how newbies who knew nothing the Glow Cloud, Tamika Flynn, the ban on wheat and wheat by-products and other Night Vale characters and events felt. This isn’t the kind of book you could jump into cold, unless your tolerance for the strange and surreal is extremely high.

I could only take this book in small chunks, at first. It got better as Jackie and Diane’s paths crossed more, and in the end I’d call this a “must listen” for Night Vale fans, although I still think the podcast is way better. I loved the scene in the Night Vale Public Library, the creepy Night Vale community radio ads, and the various peeks at what daily life is like in Night Vale. After many podcast episodes worth of wondering, I finally got to find out the Man in the Tan Jacket’s identity and goals. I laughed when I realized how the Erikas had helped Jackie and Diane out, and I cringed in arachnophobic horror whenever the tarantula got an appearance (that said, I

hated the way it died).

(spoiler show)


When I saw that this was narrated by four different people, I assumed it would be like other audiobooks with multiple narrators: one narrator handling the narrative parts and the others doing the dialogue, or each narrator handling a different POV. Instead, it was primarily Cecil Baldwin, with the other three narrators coming in about three quarters into the book to voice Cecil Palmer’s special radio guests, Old Woman Josie and two of the Erikas.

So there you have it: it wasn’t exactly bad, but it also wasn’t nearly as good as I’d hoped it would be. I’m glad I listened to it because it gave me more of the overall Night Vale story and let me get a better look at more locations in the town. I’ll probably relisten to it at some point, because I enjoy Cecil Baldwin’s voice and might like the book better now that I know how long it takes for the multiple strange and seemingly separate storylines to come together. That said, I’d hesitate to recommend it to anyone who wasn’t already a big Welcome to Night Vale fan.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2017-09-28 16:02
Reading progress update: I've read 36 out of 228 pages.
Haunted - James Herbert

A paranormal investigator investigating a reportedly haunted house.... this falls under haunted house, supernatural, terror in a small town and 80s horror (published in 1988 originally).  So far there's been a lot of smoking and a fair amount of drinking, our hero seems to be a functional alcoholic...

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