The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden (by Karina Yan Glaser)

Young Readers

After one of their neighbors has a heart-attack and is rushed to hospital the Vanderbeekers decide to turn an overgrown plot of land into a community garden for him and his wife. With a very limited budget but a truck load of creativity they begin to see results, but a developer has his eyes on the plot and plans to put a cookie cutter condo there.

Will their garden be bulldozed before their neighbor gets to walk through it?


Solid gold 5 Stars. A magical story that will captivate young readers. When I was growing up, it was The Three Investigators. For kids growing up today, this is their story. It’s the book they will remember when they are 50.

Dr Strange Beard (by Penny Reid)

Contemporary Romance

Roscoe remembers everything. He can remember conversations he had 10 years earlier, word for word. He can remember every word Simone said to break his heart.
Roscoe avoids looking at people. When you remember everything, it’s easier to just not make any new memories.
Simone is back in town and she can’t figure out why Roscoe is avoiding her.  But she needs his help and for that to happen she needs to mend some broken fences.


I always find it challenging reviewing Penny Reid’s books.
What can I say that hasn’t been said?
Hell, what can I say that I haven’t already said about her other books.
And one of the hardest things is avoiding superlatives.

So let me talk about an Alfa Romeo.

Specifically the 1960 Alfa Romeo Giuletta Sprint.

The greatest car ever made!

description

OK, it wasn’t the fastest car on the road, it had an underpowered 1.3L engine under the hood. It didn’t handle like a Porsche or a Ferrari. But who really cares about any of that crap? Certainly not me. The Giuletta had charisma. You see one and you can’t help but looking again…and again. The more you look at it, the more beautiful it gets.

And that’s this book. It’s brilliant, it’s sublime, I wanted it to go on forever.

Girl Town (by Carolyn Nowak)

Sequential Art

I don’t read a lot of sequential art. I want to be blown away but I nearly always end up just feeling mildly disappointed.

Not so here.

Girl Town is brilliant and soulful. It’s like a punch in the gut at times and at other times I just have no idea what’s going on –– but I know whatever it is, it’s inspired.

The very best doesn’t just entertain you. It challenges you, it inspires you and it confronts you.

Girl Town does all of that and a whole lot more. Five Stars … honestly I’d give this book all of the stars.  I read it a week ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it.

 

Widow’s Island series

Close to the Bone (by Kendra Elliot)

 

FBI Special Agent Cate Wilde is back home on a remote Pacific Northwest island recovering from a gun shot wound when she skeletal remains are discovered and she is. Together with the island’s new doctor who also happens to be the island’s  coroner she investigates a murder that happened many years ago.

A Bone to Pick (by Melinda Leigh)

 

Sheriff’s Deputy Tessa Black gave up her career as a detective with the Seattle PD and returned to Widow’s Island to care for her ailing mother who has dementia.  She thinks her life will be one of turning a blind eye to the island’s marijuana supplier and investigating petty crime. But when one of the island’s artists is gruesomely murdered she finds herself once again investigating the violence she thought she had left behind in Seattle.


Kendra Elliot and Melinda Leigh are regular collaborators.  They must have published over a dozen books in the Rogue River series and its many sequels.  Now they have put those series’ to bed and have started this series set on an archipelago loosely based on the San Juan Islands in Washington.

As with Rogue River these books are short with a page count somewhere around 100 for each of them.  That is both a strength and a weakness.  They are quick and entertaining, you could polish them off on a lazy Sunday afternoon. But that is done at the expense of story and character development which will happen over time with each new offering.

The thing that makes these books just a little bit better than the competition is likeable characters and the two authors are plainly enjoying themselves.

Many thanks to Montlake Romance and Netgalley for providing me with review copies of these books. 

Instauration (by Sarah Lyons Fleming)

Post-Apocalyptic / Zombies

Instauration is book 3 in the City Series. For the best reading experience, read Mordacious and Peripeteia first.

After Walt and his gang attacked the Sunset Park Safe Zone (book 2 Peripeteia) Sylvie, Eric and the other survivors find themselves on the run.  They take refuge in the Stuyvesant Town Safe Zone where they plan their revenge on Walt.  But things are anything but safe in the city and zombies aren’t even the worst of it. Sylvie and her friends are assailed on all sides by psychopaths who think nothing of murdering and raping to get ahead.


Most zombie books are fluff. They are basically comics and you can’t take them too seriously. That’s not the case with Instauration. It’s brutal, uncomfortable and hard to read in parts.

You desperately want all the people you have come to love over the three books to get their happy ending. Not all of them will.

Kill the Queen (by Jennifer Estep)

Fantasy

This book is Jennifer Estep at her most “Jennifer Estep-iest”.

An orphan with a rare type of magic does battle with an evil queen to save the kingdom and prevent a war. If that doesn’t sound familiar my question is, where have you been?

So yeah. It’s pretty much every Jennifer Estep book but I don’t think that’s a problem. Most of those books were pretty damned entertaining and Kill the Queen is up there with the best of them.

5 Stars because it’s great, minus 1 Star because it really is just like every other Jennifer Estep book.

Another Good Dog (by Cara Sue Achterberg)

Memoir 

There are dog people and cat people.

OK…yes, there are also chicken people, but chicken people are completely bananas!

I’m a dog person. I’ve had cats. When I was young I was a cat person. I don’t dislike cats, but I’m a dog person. Nothing quite matches the love a dog will give you.  And this is a book for dog people.

If you love dogs. If you love animals. Read this book.

Bella gives this book 5 Paws!