Mini-Reviews – “The Gateway Drug to Literacy”

Hi all! Now, if you’ve ever heard the above Art Spiegelman quote, then you have an inkling of what we’re talking about today….that’s right! Comics!

More specifically, I will be introducing you to six of my favorite Webcomics. All the titles are links to the first comic, in case you’d like to check them out. 🙂

Unshelved (Gene Ambaum & Bill Barnes)

12-12-2017 1-45-51 PMUnshelved is about a librarian named Dewey (yes, the pun IS intentional 😉 ). It’s a fun look at the ins and outs of daily library life. I will admit that since I’ve worked in a library, this might be more funny for me than the average person, but if you are reading this blog, odds are you’ve spent a fair share of time in a library yourself, so I think most of you will enjoy it too. 😉

Gunnerkrigg Court (Tom Siddell)

Strange-Adventures-GunnerkriggCourt

Gunnerkrigg Court is part mystery, part creepy fantasy, and part boarding school tale. I’m not super far into it yet, but so far we’ve had demon-y shadow things, robots, creepy teachers, and a Minotaur. Color me intrigued.

Weregeek (Alina Pete & Layne Myhre)

weregeekWeregeek is about a guy named Mark, who discovers that he is a geek after he “geeks out” and ends up in a comic book store, which leads to him joining a role-playing group. It makes more sense in the strip, lol.

Being somewhat of a voyeur when it comes to RPGs (I am TERRIBLE at playing myself, but love to watch), I really enjoy this comic. It’s fun seeing what the group gets up to in their games. There IS some romance and what not as well, but I enjoy it most for the geeky stuff. 😉

Order of the Stick (Rich Burlew)

12-12-2017 1-19-42 PM

Order if the Stick is basically a D&D party drawn as mostly stick figures. They go on epic adventures, fight lots of monsters and other baddies, save the day (sometimes), and get themselves into trouble. It’s great fun.

Rice Boy (Evan Dahm)

12-12-2017 2-00-51 PMRice Boy is…hard to describe. I’m not all the way through it yet, so I can only really say that it’s about a little guy named Rice Boy who goes on an adventure in order to fulfill a prophecy. He’s recruited by The One Electric, who is a man with a TV for a head. And is chased by a robot named Golgo. It’s odd, but interesting.

And my favorite:

Questionable Content (Jeph Jacques)

Ah, Questionable Content, how I love thee. And how I need to get caught up! Goodness. I went to the site to get the link for you all and didn’t recognize ANY of the characters in today’s comic! ::shakes finger at face:: “Bad Jessica!”

qc-feat

Ahem…anyway…QC is about a group of friends who live in Rhode Island. The author calls it “an internet comic strip about romance and robots”, which is true, though there is a lot more going on than just romance and robots. It’s mainly about the ups and downs of life and how you can always count on your friends…but its WAY funnier than I’m making it sound. I mean…

Espressosaurus

Seriously, I recommend this webcomic to everyone. It doesn’t have a whole lot of action, but the writing is great and the artist has really evolved since the beginning.

Also, because Hannelore…

Questionable-Content-Wallpaper-web-comics-24463162-281-500

Note: This list is pretty much all the comics I read that have a story line (even if it isn’t initially obvious), but I also read quite a few strip versions that I didn’t include because the post was getting REALLY long. Here are a handful that you might like to check out: Sarah’s Scribbles, The Awkward Yeti, The Oatmeal, Hyperbole & a Half, Cyanide & Happiness, and xkcd.


What are some of YOUR favorite webcomics?

Advertisements

What’cha Readin’?

My librarians are AWESOME! I popped in a couple of weeks ago and while I was there I requested a book. They must have ordered it IMMEDIATELY because it was available for me to pick up on Friday!

This fabulous event caused me to want to check in with all of you, share my current TBR pile, and see what you guys are reading.

My Library Book:

Furiously Happy (Jenny Lawson)

Description from Goodreads: In LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

furiouslyhappyAccording to Jenny: “Some people might think that being ‘furiously happy’ is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he’s never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.”

“Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you’d never guess because we’ve learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, ‘We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.’ Except go back and cross out the word ‘hiding.'”

Jenny’s first book, LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. FURIOUSLY HAPPY is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways-and who doesn’t need a bit more of that?

Why I Picked It: Jenny Lawson is one of those hard-to-find authors who can talk about really terrible things without depressing the crap out of you (think Allie Brosh, but in novel form). I stumbled across her first book, “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened”, at the very beginning of my 2015 reading challenge and it was brilliant. I’ve been following her blog since and she is completely hilarious. I’m only about 40 pages into this book so far and I am definitely happy that I requested it (and that my librarians are so awesome).

My Christmas Reads:

The Guardians: Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King; E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core!; Toothiana, Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies (William Joyce)

Description from Goodreads: This boxed set of the first three Guardians books is the perfect companion to the Rise of the Guardians movie!

guardiansOf course you know the Guardians. You’ve known them since before you can remember and you’ll know them till your memories are like twilight: Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and the others. But where did they come from? How did they become beloved and worthy of holidays? And what nefarious evildoer prompts them to band together and protect the children of the world?

Answers are revealed and imaginations unfurl in this this treasure trove of a boxed set. Both a standalone collectible and the ideal complement to the mesmerizing Dreamworks Animation movie Rise of the Guardians, this set includes the first three titles in the Guardians chapter book series: Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King, E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core!, and Toothiana, Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies.

Why I Picked It: Ok, fess up time. I LOVE the Rise of the Guardians movie. Like, seriously love it. Like, “I could put it on in the morning and replay it all day” love it. I know, I know, it’s a kids movie. But WHAT A KIDS MOVIE! It’s extremely well done and a totally unique re-imagining of characters I’ve always loved. And, yeah, reading the books AFTER the watching the movie can be dangerous territory…but I’m gonna give it a go anyway. 😉


So what are you guys currently reading? Have any holiday books lined up?

A Tribute to Cat Winters

Well, this is a bit of a diversion for me, but I just finished ‘Odd & True’ and felt the need to sing my praises for the author: Cat Winters.

I have never found a Cat Winters book that wasn’t binge-worthy. Granted, I’ve only read 3 of her novels so far, but that’s still really impressive. So I thought I would give you my thoughts on the books I’ve read and introduce everyone to this fabulous author!

In The Shadow of Blackbirds

13112915Description from Goodreads: In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

My Review: This was my first Cat Winters novel and, boy, did it catch me by surprise! The description sounded interesting, but I didn’t realize I’d become enthralled enough to read it in one sitting! The author combines true history (the horror of WWI and the Spanish Influenza outbreak) and a supernatural romance…and manages to come out with a wonderful and completely believable tale.

The Cure for Dreaming

curefordreamingDescription from Goodreads: Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. 

My Review: Coming off the Blackbirds book, I had a feeling this one would be better than it sounded, and I was right! It was another single-sitting, page-turner! Once again, the author manages to join together real history and the supernatural into a story that feels completely true to life. She really seems to understand (and explain well) what living in the early 1900s must have been like for a strong-minded young woman.

Odd & True

oddandtrueDescription from Goodreads: Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

My Review: Sigh, another great one. I love how the author always manages to spin a tale that seems creepy and supernatural, but often has real issues and struggles at the heart of it. This one is more of a coming-of-age tale; that time in everyone’s life when the magic dies and reality sets in…but only if you let it.

Her other books (which my library doesn’t have, darnit) include:

The Uninvited

theuninvitedDescription from Goodreads: Twenty-five year old Ivy Rowan rises from her bed after being struck by the flu, only to discover the world has been torn apart in just a few short days. But Ivy’s life-long gift—or curse—remains. For she sees the uninvited ones—ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked, unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918 she sees the spirit of her grandmother, rocking in her mother’s chair. An hour later, she learns her younger brother and father have killed a young German out of retaliation for the death of Ivy’s older brother Billy in the Great War.

Horrified, she leaves home, to discover the flu has caused utter panic and the rules governing society have broken down. Ivy is drawn into this new world of jazz, passion, and freedom, where people live for the day, because they could be stricken by nightfall. But as her ‘uninvited guests’ begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once more, but Ivy has no inkling of the other-worldly revelations about to unfold.

The Steep & Thorny Way

thesteepandthornywayDescription from Amazon: A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now the killer is out of jail and back in town, and he’s claiming that Hanalee’s father’s death wasn’t an accident at all. Instead, he says that Hank was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who just so happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

In order to get the answers she needs, Hanalee will have to ask a “haint” wandering the roads at night—her father himself.

Yesternight

yesternightDescription from Goodreads: In 1925, Alice Lind steps off a train in the rain-soaked coastal hamlet of Gordon Bay, Oregon. There, she expects to do nothing more difficult than administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren. A trained psychologist, Alice believes mysteries of the mind can be unlocked scientifically, but now her views are about to be challenged by one curious child.

Seven-year-old Janie O’Daire is a mathematical genius, which is surprising. But what is disturbing are the stories she tells: that her name was once Violet, she grew up in Kansas decades earlier, and she drowned at age nineteen. Alice delves into these stories, at first believing they’re no more than the product of the girl’s vast imagination. But, slowly, Alice comes to the realization that Janie might indeed be telling a strange truth.

Alice knows the investigation may endanger her already shaky professional reputation, and as a woman in a field dominated by men she has no room for mistakes. But she is unprepared for the ways it will illuminate terrifying mysteries within her own past, and in the process, irrevocably change her life.

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys (An Anthology with Several Other Authors)

slashergirlsDescription from Goodreads: A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.

Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.


Have you given Cat Winters a try? Read any of the books I haven’t gotten to yet? What did you think?

Book Review – A Study in Charlotte

Book: A Study in Charlotte – Author: Brittany Cavallaro

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, YA

Description from Goodreads:

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

My Review:

Let me start off with a confession: I totally thought both Charlotte AND Jamie were going to be girls when I started this book. I don’t know why; it specifically states in the description “keep HIS distance”. I must have read it wrong. ::shrugs:: Anyway, that notion was disabused in the very first page, so I quickly realized I was incorrect. And that I was disappointed. (Me = ::giant sigh:: “This is going to turn into a romance book, isn’t it?”)

Not that this book wasn’t awesome. It really was. Once I got over my confusion about genders (and my confusion on how Jamie got a rugby scholarship to a USA school), I found myself enthralled in this homage to the Sherlock Holmes novels. The characters were both familiar and new. Charlotte has a lot of the same issues as Sherlock, though for completely different reasons, and Jaime is (temperamentally at least) extremely similar to Doctor Watson. But they were also completely original characters with their own spirits and issues.

It did seem a bit strange to me that Jaime felt like it was destiny that he become Charlotte’s Watson, even given his family history. His dad was completely obsessed with the Holmes’ too, almost to the point of willingly endangering his child in order to push the two together. It made it feel a TAD creepy at times. But, hey, it’s a Sherlock book, so we’ll overlook that for now. 😉

The mystery was really interesting. I was kept guessing until the very end of the book, which was a nice change from some of the other mystery books I’ve been reading recently. I loved the nod to the Sherlock mysteries; it was a great way to tie the timelines together a bit and pull in the Sherlock lovers. They even included the Moriarty family! But everything was brought into the story in a way that made sense. Nothing felt pushed in just to have a callback to the original stories.

And, yes, it is looking like the series WILL be romancy. But I do think it works for these two characters. Fingers crossed it doesn’t turn into either a “I want to be with you, but circumstances are keeping us apart (over and over an over again)” or a gushy “I love you so much, you are the only thing in the world that matters” kind of romance. Let’s keep up the mysteries! That’s kind of the point of a Sherlock book, right? 😉

I don’t want to spoil things too much, so I won’t say much more. But this was a great leading book for the series, finishing off the current mystery but leaving the reader with just enough hints towards other mysteries that might take place in the future. I’ll likely pick up the second book, “The Last of August”, once my library snags a copy.

Similar Book(s):

The Clockwork Scarab (Colleen Gleason)

Book Review – The Bone Witch

Book: The Bone Witch – Author: Rin Chupeco

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Supernatural, YA

Description from Goodreads:

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

My Review:

I like Rin Chupeco. The Girl From The Well was one of only a handful of ‘instant love’ books I’ve read all year. That said…this book will not go down in my list of favorites.

I did like the characters in general. I LOVE Tea’s “Sister Ashas”: Mykaela, Polaire, and Althy.  They seem lively and like they can kick some butt. (Can we get a book just about them?) But the others…I dunno. Most of them, including Tea, seemed a little flat. Occasionally Tea would get angry, but other than that everyone just seemed to kind of be there. (Though I did also like Rahim, can we get a book about him too please?)

I also liked the premise: a world where magic is accepted and magic users have a special niche; some for healing, some for fighting, even some for fashion. 😉 The daeva were interesting too; monsters that rise from their graves every few years and have to be reconquered. Sounds like a great setup for a fantasy, right?

I think the main problem I had with this story was the pacing. Each chapter was split between Tea as a young apprentice and Tea now as an outcast Asha. This might have seemed like a great way to keep the reader interested in the final outcome of the novel, but having to go from super-magical, war-starting Tea, back to “now I have to learn to dance and sing” Tea was really annoying. To be fair, apparently this is the first book in a series (which I did NOT know going in), so the author was probably just world-building. Maybe the next book will have more action?

Overall I’d say, if you are looking for a cool fantasy series, go ahead and try this one. The author writes really well and there are some exciting scenes. Who knows, the rest of the series might be completely awesome.

*One quick pet peeve! Look, I know authors like to give their characters quirky names and that’s totally fine. But if you have a weird pronunciation for your character’s name…SAY SO AT THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK! Don’t wait 300 pages to tell me that Tea is pronounced “Tey-uh”, especially when all her sisters are named after flowers and Tea is an actual plant with an actual existing pronunciation. It was Hermione all over again (though that one was my fault, not really the author’s).

Similar Book(s):

I’m not sure what to put here, so I’ll just go for fantasy with a supernatural twist. 😉

Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

Revenge of the Witch – Joseph Delany

 

Library Haul – Mystery, Fantasy, and Books About Books

Another day, another library haul. 😉

Whose Body? (Dorothy Sayers)

whosebodyDescription from Goodreads: The stark naked body was lying in the tub. Not unusual for a proper bath, but highly irregular for murder — especially with a pair of gold pince-nez deliberately perched before the sightless eyes. What’s more, the face appeared to have been shaved after death. The police assumed that the victim was a prominent financier, but Lord Peter Wimsey, who dabbled in mystery detection as a hobby, knew better. In this, his first murder case, Lord Peter untangles the ghastly mystery of the corpse in the bath.

Why I Picked It: Ever since I fell in love with Poirot, I’ve been slowly picking my way through the Golden Age mysteries. Having finished Miss Marple, I decided it was time to give another classic author a try. Dorothy Sayers is really well known and her Lord Peter Wimsey books sound right up my alley, so I decided to snag the start of the series.

A Study in Charlotte (Brittany Cavallaro)

astudyincharlotteDescription from Goodreads: The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar. 

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

Why I Picked It: I love Sherlock in most of his forms, so I’m usually up for ‘descendant’ novels as well. The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason seems like it had a similar vibe, if a bit steampunky, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. This one sounds kind of fun and the reviews were decent, so I figured I’d give it a go.

Odd & True (Cat Winters)

oddandtrueDescription from Goodreads: Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio. 

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

Why I Picked It: I’ve been wanting to read this one for ages and I’m extremely excited that my library snagged a copy so early! I’m not sure what it is about Cat Winters, but I can’t seem to NOT binge read her books. Fingers crossed that the trend continues!

The Shelf: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading (Phyllis Rose)

theshelfDescription from Goodreads: Can you have an Extreme Adventure in a library? Phyllis Rose casts herself into the wilds of an Upper East Side lending library in an effort to do just that. Hoping to explore the “real ground of literature,” she reads her way through a somewhat randomly chosen shelf of fiction, from LEQ to LES.

The shelf has everything Rose could wish for—a classic she has not read, a remarkable variety of authors, and a range of literary styles. The early nineteenth-century Russian classic A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov is spine by spine with The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Stories of French Canadian farmers sit beside those about aristocratic Austrians. California detective novels abut a picaresque novel from the seventeenth century. There are several novels by a wonderful, funny, contemporary novelist who has turned to raising dogs because of the tepid response to her work.

In The Shelf, Rose investigates the books on her shelf with exuberance, candor, and wit while pondering the many questions her experiment raises and measuring her discoveries against her own inner shelf—those texts that accompany us through life. “Fairly sure that no one in the history of the world has read exactly this series of novels,” she sustains a sense of excitement as she creates a refreshingly original and generous portrait of the literary enterprise.

Why I Picked It: Honestly, I was just checking whether or not my library had finally gotten Jenny Lawson’s last book, Furiously Happy, (spoiler: they didn’t) and I happened to notice that the entire shelf above that spot was books about books! This one sounds kind of fun…and like something I would probably do myself. 😉


So what are you currently reading? 🙂

Book Review – Creative Woman Mysteries Series

Book: Creative Woman Mysteries (series) – Author: Multiple

Genre: Fiction, Cozy Mystery

Description of Book 1 from the website:

Strands of Fate will introduce you to Shannon McClain, who has been in mourning since the tragic death of her husband three years ago. With two children to raise and her money running out, she receives a mysterious letter from the United States, informing her she has just two weeks to claim a large inheritance — part of which is a fortune in jewels that can only be found by solving cryptic clues stitched in a needlepoint by her late grandmother. But she is blindsided when she meets an aunt and uncle she never knew existed, who are most unhappy she has arrived.

Stay away from Apple Grove ... or else.

You’ll share Shannon’s fear and excitement as she uses the last of her late husband’s insurance money to travel with her best friend Coleen from their small village in Scotland to a quaint town in the northwestern United States. But right before they are to leave, she finds a threatening note nailed to her door — written in red ink, dripping like blood.

“Stay away from Apple Grove… or else,” it warns.

My Review:

I’ve read the first seven books so far and this is a fun little series. The books are well written, easy to read, and easy to follow. Each of the mysteries has been unique and complex, but not TOO complex. 😉 They are also short, which can be pretty nice when you aren’t feeling up to a long, mind-bending novel.

I really enjoy the characters. Shannon, the protagonist, is very likable and caring. The “Purls”, her group of friends, all seem like very nice people, the sort I’d like to hang out with myself. Really complicated and woeful characters are interesting and all, but sometimes you just want to escape into something fun and easy, with characters you relate to and enjoy.

The main romantic interest is also a nice guy; no angsting over the baddy in this series, (at least not so far, they DID just introduce a possible second love interest, so we’ll see what happens on that front). I will say, I liked the pacing on the romance in this series. None of that “I MUST HAVE HIM NOW” crap that you usually get in cozy mysteries. Shannon is still grieving her husband and wants to take things slow, but isn’t opposed to opening herself up for a new relationship; I admire her for that.

Now for the cons. 😉

I get a little tired of all of these cozy mysteries taking the mickey out of law enforcement. Why is the cop always completely focused on a single (usually incorrect) suspect? Why do the protagonists ALWAYS think they can figure things out better than the professionals? I know, I know, we wouldn’t have a story otherwise, but it gets a little old. And these books are not exempt. Regardless of the fact that Shannon is repeatedly told that she doesn’t know all the aspects of the investigation, she still believes that Officer Grayson is completely wrong in his suspects and decides she has to investigate herself in order for justice to win the day. To be fair, she usually DOES figure out who the bad guy is…while they are trying to kill her.

Which leads us into the second con. Why on earth don’t these cozy mystery protagonists EVER take death threats seriously?!? Shannon at least (usually) has the smarts to tell Grayson when she receives a threatening note (which is virtually always the modus operandi for threats in this series, haven’t these people ever heard of telephones?), but she still races after suspects in the dark and insists on confronting people she thinks are murderers. Sigh.

Regardless of my venting, I actually AM enjoying this series. The mysteries are interesting. In just the first few books, we’ve had a scavenger hunt for a lost necklace, a murdered ex-husband, poisoned cupcakes, a dog show, and long-lost relatives. And I usually don’t have a clue who the culprit is until they try to murder Shannon at the end of the book! 😉

It’s been an interesting run so far and I’m curious to see where it will go. I’ve still got 5 more books in the series, so fingers crossed!

Similar Book(s):

Crewel World – Monica Ferris

Shadows At The Fair – Lea Wait

Night Of The Living Deed – E.J. Copperman