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Archive for July, 2013

Paranormal Romance Review – Fifth Grave Past the Light

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones

Review by reacherfan1909




Darynda Jones hit the book market in 2011 with First Grave on the Right and gave paranormal and UF authors a bad case of author envy.  Charley Davidson and Reyes Farrow are easily two of the most original characters in a long time.  Ms Jones also hit the high notes for strong, well-developed prose, fast pacing that never feels rushed, and dual plots line – one is the plot that is the mystery in the book that is resolved within each book.  The other is the over-arching plot about Charley herself and Reyes Farrow and just what they are to each other – and to the universe.  And she does this with an odd mixture of humor, and horror, and mystery that shouldn’t work, but does so splendidly and with such verve, wit, and style it’s a delight to read.


In Fifth Grave Past the Light, Charley and the now released Reyes Farrow, are neighbors.  And she wants to be a lot more, but how can the son of Satan and a Grim Reaper (actually a portal for souls – a kind of beacon and doorway for the dead to pass through to reach heaven) who is the daughter of light ever manage to get together?


It isn’t unusual for Charley to wake up and find ghosts in her apartment.  After all, Mr Wong has been there the whole time.  And not all ghosts are ready to pass.  Not only can they see her, some are quite chatty.  But having a ghost that stutters try and buy you a drink in your Dad’s bar?  That’s awkward.  Especially since it’s a cop bar and they tend to notice people talking to themselves.  Even worse when your former high school BFF turned nemesis sits with her friends mocking you and making you feel 15 again.  Hell had just come to Earth.  Even worse, Charley was in her ‘available slut’ outfit trying to attract Marvin Tidwell, suspected cheating husband.  Turns out, Marvin has a ‘type’, and Charley is NOT it.  But Cookie, her zaftig secretary, BFF, and neighbor is.  So Charley calls for reinforcements.  A nervous Cookie seems to be doing so well, until Marvin spots the microphone and Cookie, scared, grabs for her gun.  But Marvin manages to point the gun at Charley and time slows – as it always does for her – as she sees the bullet leave the barrel, tries to move, but can’t move fast enough and knows she’s about to die.  Then Reyes is there, as he has been so many times in the past, and literally takes a bullet for her.


Oh, her apartment has a frightened young girl hiding under the bed who places 3 scratches down Charley’s face.  And then there’s all these women, victims of a serial killer, so traumatized they can’t even help Charley find out what’s keeping them from passing thru to the light.  And her sister has her going to see a psychologist for PTSD after what happened with Earl Walker  – AND she told the psychologist Charley’s secret.  And she needs Gerald Swopes’ help with doing background checks on Marvin – only the last time he helped her, he died and Reyes sent him to spend some quality time with Dad – AKA Lucifer.  And a key and note from Reyes – “Use the key.”  But does it open his apartment?  Or something else?


Throw in a nurse who sees the future and visits Charley I spectral form yet has no memory of it, a police captain who wants to see just how Charley works to help her Uncle Bob have the highest clearance rate in the whole department, Cookie taking gun safety classes, the mother of her ghostly teenage assistant wanting to know why she keeps depositing $500 a month in her bank account.  It’s a tough few days.


As always, despite the many threads in the story, the Darynda Jones not only manages to weave them all together into an engaging tale that moves at a breakneck pace, she brilliantly walks the line between laughs and a dark, grim reality – with one notable flaw, one that has cropped up in earlier books.  The author has to introduce a lot of information, kind of a data dump, to move the over-riding story arc along.  This isn’t easy, so she often has a character handle this in a single fell swoop toward the end of the book.  This time she selected Swopes, and used his time with Satan as they way to get the information in.  But suddenly Swopes has all these additional sources and the scene, a key one to the continuing story arc – get a very ‘deus ex machina’ feel to it.  Of all the things that happened in the book, it was the one that seemed to not quite work.  Maybe because I found the choice of character for the ‘big reveal’ didn’t quite fit.  I think it might have worked had she introduced a different, new, enigmatic character to handle it with Swopes.


Fifth Grave Past the Light remains an excellent read and gets a A- (4.5*) from me, a very rare high rating.  As a series, the Charley Davidson books are highly recommended reading for paranormal fans.


Series: Charley Davidson, Bk 5 – books need to be read in order to follow storyline

First Grave on the Right (Book 1)

Second Grave on the Left (Book 2)

Third Grave Dead Ahead (Book 3)

Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet (Book 4)

Fifth Grave Past the Light (Book 5)



In addition to the Charley Davidson series, I recommend, Kelly Gay’s Charlie Madigan series, Suzanne Johnson’s Sentinel’s of New Orleans series, Cecy Robson’s Weird Sisters series, and Kalayna Price’s Grave Witch series.



Mystery Monday – The Case of the Deadly Toy

Monday, July 29th, 2013

The Case of the Deadly Toy by Erle Stanley Gardner

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)


Horace Livermore Selkirk didn’t get to be a rich banker in San Francisco by being an agreeable fellow. Though granting he didn’t like the scrapes his son got into, he tells Perry Mason that he intends to avenge his son’s murder. The cops have Perry’s client, the son’s ex-fiancé , in custody but Horace wants the killing pinned on the son’s ex-wife, because he wants custody of his son’s son, the only one carrying on the Selkirk name. Thus, this was first serialized in 1958 as The Case of the Greedy Grandpa in The Saturday Evening Post.

Gardner was a writer that touched on serious issues in his novels in order to give them heft and realism. First, he brings in the scary practice of stalking in this one. There’s also poison pen letters.

Second, Gardner brings up the influence of TV watching on kids. While interviewing persons of interest, Mason pries out of a babysitter that on a whim she allowed her seven-year-old charge to play with a .22 with the shells removed. Under the influence of “pistol performances” on TV, the boy, she admits, might have gotten hold of the gun and loaded it with a shell.

Third, Mason gets a witness on the stand to admit that she was coached by the police to make her identification, having been allowed to observe the defendant surrounded by police before the witness identified her in a line up.

This is not one of the best Mason novels I’ve read. But the subtext about when and how children should be allowed to handle weapons was interesting to me, since this is an issue that has hardly gone away in the fifty years since this mystery was published.

Free Book Friday Winner!

Sunday, July 28th, 2013



The winner of the book, The Monster Hunters by Larry Correia is:

Christina N. (mystic2102)


Congratulations! Your book will be to you soon!

Thank you to everyone who commented on the Blog!

Free Book Friday! The Monster Hunters

Friday, July 26th, 2013


Today’s Free Book is:




The Monster Hunters by Larry Correia

Monster Hunter International, Monster Hunter Vendetta and Monster Hunter Alpha in one huge volume!  Two New York Times bestsellers in together for the first time, and the first three entries in Larry Correia?s blockbuster Monster Hunter series.

Hardcover, ISBN 9781451637847

We will choose one winner at random from comments we receive here on the Blog from PBS members.



You have until Sunday, July 28, 2013 at 12 noon EDT, to leave a comment.


Good Luck to everyone!

Note: All the books given away on Free Book Friday are available in the PBS Market. We have thousands of new and new overstock titles available right now, with more added hourly. Some of the prices are amazing – and you can use a PBS credit to make the deal even better!

Remember, every new book purchase supports the club and helps keep membership free!

Children’s Book Review – Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Knit your Bit: A World War I Story by Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrated by Steven Guarnaccia


Review by Brenna B. (demiducky25)

I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a WWI historical fiction picture book for children before, so when I saw this on display at a local library, I just had to check it out!  This story is about a boy named Mikey who wants to do something big to help the war effort, especially since his Pop is over in Europe fighting.  Mikey’s Mama and sister knit hats and scarves for the war effort and invite Mikey to join them, but he refuses since he considers that a small effort and is certain that “boys don’t knit.”  His sister tries to convince him otherwise by showing him a newspaper article with firemen knitting as a group and a political poster with a boy knitting on it, but Mikey steadfastly refuses.  Mikey finally decides to try knitting when the boys at school are egged on by the girls to enter the Central Park Knitting Bee to help the war effort.  But knitting for Mikey and his friends Nick and Dan is a lot harder and more time consuming than it looks.  It’s not until Mikey talks to a war veteran who lost a leg that Mikey realizes that small efforts lead to big change and that impacting just one person is enough to be considered “doing something big.”  Will Mikey give up or will he continue to knit?

I thought that this book was very good!  Even though it’s set during WWI, the message this book sends could be applied to today as well.  It also provides a number of topics for discussion: war, returning soldiers, challenging socially constructed gender roles, community service, and more.  The author’s note at the end provides historical context for parents/ teachers as well as for children.  The note discusses the real knitting clubs of WWI as well as the real three-day “Knit In” at Central Park in NYC.  It ends with information for modern day knitting for soldiers and other charities.  I started loom knitting last year and have already made hats for pretty much everyone I know, so now I can channel those efforts elsewhere using the resources in this book!  I think for Christmas I might get a copy of this book and a beginner’s knitting kits for the kids in my life who are old enough to give it a try.  Speaking of age, Amazon lists this book as appropriate for grades K-3.  I’d agree that children younger than kindergarten might have a hard time understanding this book due to content (the language is simply enough but it does hit on some complex themes).  However, I think it can be enjoyed by kids older than 3rd grade and for those of us who are kids at heart!

My rating- 4 out of 5 stars

Romance Review – The Duchess Hunt

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

The Duchess Hunt by Jennifer Haymore

Review by Issa S. (Issa-345)


Jennifer Haymore’s new House of Trent series begins with young Sarah Osborne, the gardener’s daughter, falling into a blackberry bush.  Fortunately the young Duke of Trent, Simon Hawkins, is handy to save her and brings her to meet his mother, a Duchess unlike most duchesses…she’s open, engaging, and caring and treats Sarah more like a member of the family then a servant.

Many years later, Simon returns to the family home, as his mother has disappeared without a trace.  In the years between the prologue and the beginning, Sarah has become the head house maid and Simon has joined parliament and lived a non scandalous life in London to live down the scandal his mother and father and their numerous affairs caused the family name.  Three years prior to Simon’s return, he and Sarah shared a kiss that left them infatuated with each other…but a maid and a duke have no future and they both know it.

The book continues with the search for the Duchess.  We meet the rest of the siblings, 4 brothers and 1 sister, all of whom will likely get their own stories.  The mystery of the Duchess is not solved in this book and during the search Simon encounters even more mystery, murder, lies, deceit, and secrets that will change his life and the lives of his siblings.  To save them Simon needs to make a choice, protect his family, or embrace Sarah.


Things I liked.

The mystery of the missing duchess, an interesting new twist.

The emotion of from both Simon and Sarah when Simon makes his choice and from Simon as he debates what to do.  I felt it right down to my toes.

The characters.  I liked both Sarah and Simon and found the family itself enjoyable (except for brother Luke, a man with a huge chip on his shoulder.  Rude and an all around jerk, but no explanation is given as to why).


Things that didn’t work.

We are told early in the story that the Hawkins names was buried in scandal due to their parents infidelity, and as a result Simon lives by a strict moral code.  His siblings mention it often.  But we are only told about this.  Not one single example is shown and quite frankly, I couldn’t believe either part.

Not enough emphasis was placed on the missing duchess.  The search was a little weak and it didn’t seem like the siblings cared all that much about her disappearance.  Again, another aspect told but never shown.


I give the book 3.5 stars mostly because there was too much telling without show.  I also found the ending to be a bit odd.  But it’s a good start to a new series and I look forward to the next one.






Mystery Monday – Blast from the Past

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Blast from the Past by Lauren Carr

Review by Kelsey O.


Mac Faraday returns with the usual trouble. Lauren Carr takes this new mystery into the past life of Archie Monday, formally known as Kendra Douglas, who witnessed a mob murder when she was young and has been in witness protection since. Now the mob has found her and they aren’t going to leave her alive for a second time. Eventually there are three murders to solve and the trouble comes trying to link the common thread or are they unrelated. Never fear though, Mac and his half-brother, David O’Callaghan, are on the job along with Archie and Gnarly, the German Shepard. Archie doesn’t want to relocate so she ends up just moving in with Mac (they were eventually going to do that anyway). David is already living in the mansion and when Marshall Randi Finnegan ends up there also to help protect Archie. Even though there are many different plot lines running around, I didn’t feel like it made it confusing, I was just constantly wondering who did it.

The thing with Carr’s mysteries is she always injects some good humor. I have grown to absolutely love Gnarly. He is a stand out character and should have his own book. Another great aspect of her mysteries is that fact that you will always be kept guessing. You have all the clues but there are a few wrenches thrown in that keep you from tying them together until Carr is ready for you to. I recommend any of the Mac Faraday novels for all mystery lovers.