Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Review: Jacqueline

Jacqueline Jacqueline by Jackie Minniti
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Review: JACQUELINE by Jackie Minitti

I can't imagine that too many human stories came out of the Second World War with happy endings. Certainly I never heard of any from my parent who served. JACQUELINE is one of those rare eventually happy tales, and the author, Jackie Minitti, based it on the recollections of her father, an active participant. In the process, Ms. Minitti, a retired teacher of reading, weaves a tale that awakens World War II for young readers, who will come to comprehend some of the issues, and much of the emotions, of that tragic historical period. They will learn also that whenever possible, hope and the human spirit triumph.

Kudos to author Jackie Minniti for bringing this story to life.

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Since this challenge lasts a few weeks, and I've read so much, I'm posting the dedicated Goodreads shelf instead of continuing to list individual titles and authors.



Monday, December 28, 2015

Review: Unscrupulous

Unscrupulous Unscrupulous by M E May
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

[Circle City Book 5]

UNSCRUPULOUS is an intriguing mystery with warm intent. The author cares deeply about her characters, especially the children, and so draws the reader in too. Set in Indianapolis, the primary protagonists are detectives of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Nearing Christmas, a young, devoted mother is killed; her five-year-old daughter is missing. The immediate assumptions are family, then gang vengeance, then trafficking. In some way, the actual reason is worse. Five-year-old Maricella, and several other abducted youngsters, are very much endangered. Readers will cheer author M.E. May for crafting such an enduring story, while hugging close their own children and grandchildren.

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Review: Ghost in the Canteen

Ghost in the Canteen Ghost in the Canteen by Jen Rasmussen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: GHOST IN THE CANTEEN by Jen Rasmussen
[The Adventures of Lydia Trinket #1]

I love this book. It is touching, heartfelt, inventive, cozy (yes, cozy--despite containing ghosts, apparitions, fiends, and a really vicious deceased mother-son pair). It's open-hearted, warm, loyal, and delightful; and I can't wait to read the next two in the series. May Lydia continue into eternity!

Lydia Trinket is a banisher, of unwanted spirits, ghosts, nasty apparitions, continuing the work of her late brother, who had succeeded wizard Cyrus. Additionally she is Aunt Mom to Warren, adopted son of brother Nat's husband Charlie. Banishing cost Nat's life, and Charlie wants Lydia to quit--especially after a fiend she tries to banish flips her into the netherworld instead!

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Friday, December 25, 2015

Review: My Crazy Purple Pen

My Crazy Purple Pen My Crazy Purple Pen by Ruth Whenham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A young British boy owns a mischievous, magical, purple pen, which delights to write notes where it shouldn't. Not stopping at teachers and bus stop patrons, it writes to the Queen. Oh, oh! But there is a feasible solution.

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Review: Monsters A to Z

Monsters A to Z Monsters A to Z by A.J. Cosmo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Truly, amazingly, delightful. Both the whimsical illustrations and the intriguingly unexpected text accompaniment make for a precious and very readable picture book.

Rock on, Mr. Cosmo, rock on.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

2016 NetGalley & Edelweiss Challenge Diamond Level

I'd been reading about the 2015 challenge on Socrates' Book Reviews. http://socratesbookreviews.blogspot.com/ Since the majority of my review books stem from these two sites (the remainder come directly from authors, publicists, and a few publishers), it's the perfect challenge for 2016, and will help me build totals on the Blogger Shame Review Challenge. Click the button on the right sidebar, or go to http://www.fallingforya.com/2015/12/2016-netgalley-edelweiss-reading.html

Review: Doggone Christmas

Doggone Christmas Doggone Christmas by Liz Dodwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: DOGGONE CHRISTMAS by Liz Dodwell
[Polly Parrett Pet-Sitter Cozy Murder Mysteries #1)

I simply adore this series! Smoothly written, appealing, and best for me, mystery plus animals! Dogs, cats, birds, and more. Polly is a heroine after my own heart: she doesn't consider herself an "animal whisperer," but she might as well be. Almost all animals respond to her, and she is definitely a magnet. She even interposes between a trigger-itchy policeman and the pit bull he intends to shoot. I nominate Polly for Woman of the Year.

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Review: Christmas Cozy Collection

Christmas Cozy Collection Christmas Cozy Collection by K.M. Morgan
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Review: Daisy McDare Multi-Book Cozy Mystery Anthology By K. M. Morgan

Enjoy a most delightful and ingenuous cozy sleuths, Daisy McDare of Cozy Creek. Like most of us, Daisy just wants to pursue her career (interior design), find love, be normal. Doesn't work that way for Daisy: she's a trouble magnet! Sometimes people drop dead in her view; other times she just knows the homicide detective is wrong. No matter what, trouble finds her. Since these are cozies, we're spared the mess and splatter. The Daisy McDare books are just plain enjoyable reads.

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Review: Christmas Carol: A short and sweet story of hope, love, and the spirit of Christmas

Christmas Carol: A short and sweet story of hope, love, and the spirit of Christmas Christmas Carol: A short and sweet story of hope, love, and the spirit of Christmas by Morgan Mandel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: CHRISTMAS CAROL by Morgan Mandel

Exactly the kind of heartwarming, heartstrings-tugging, story we all want to read at Christmastime! Famous author lost in a snowstorm, in a car accident, towed to a tiny Midwest community. Serendipity introduces him to Christmas Carol, a young lady who uses caroling to assuage her grief, and who tugs author's jaded heartstrings.

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2016_Reading for Myself

Today I added a new 2016 challenge. In addition to the 10 (to date) external challenges, and the Goodreads Goal for 2016 [900], I've added a couple of my own design. 

2016_reading-for-myself_challenge: I read for review, literally day and night; so I seldom read for my own interest, and there's so many exciting books out there!! This challenge is to encourage me to read what I wish, and also to track (via Goodreads shelf), the quantity I read for myself.

Author and Character Marathons:

From Dec. 1, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2015, I've had a Cthulhu Marathon (H. P. Lovecraft). I'll do that again in 2016.

I'll Endeavour to read ALL the Sarah Roberts Series by Jonas Saul, beginning at #1.

I'll continue my China Mieville author Marathon.

Christmas Reading All This Week!!!

Beginning today, through Christmas Day night, it's only Christmas Reading and reviewing! Christmas mysteries, Christmas copies, Christmas pets, just Christmas!!

Review: All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas

All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas by Quinn Caldwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Christmas has become so overblown, overinflated, and marketing-hyped "Sell! Sell! Sell!" that a thinking person wonders, " What happened to peace on earth? Where's goodwill to all?" Author Quinn Caldwell postulates that Christmastime still turns the thoughts of many to pondering the spiritual. He offers readings, suggestions, and actions for all of December and early January (Christmastide). Think, ponder, and reflect. ALL I REALLY WANT is a welk-written, humorous yet serious, conversation with the reader.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Review: Children's book: "WAIT FOR KATE": Animal habitats, Animal stories book, Funny, teaches values, preschool -picture book

Children's book: Children's book: "WAIT FOR KATE": Animal habitats, Animal stories book, Funny, teaches values, preschool -picture book by Ayala Saar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WAIT FOR KATE by Ayala Saar

A really delightful young children's book by author Ayala Saar, WAIT FOR KATE teaches the values of perseverance, faith in oneself, family cohesion, and friendship. The rhyme and the illustrations are very appealing. I'll definitely enjoy sharing with my grandchildren.

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Hosted at https://booksarelifevitalibri.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/2016-crafty-cozy-challenge-sign-up/

I'm leaping into this one with enthusiasm! "Crafty Cozies" is the sub genre that first attracted my attention to Cozies. Just as there are so many global locations to which I can't travel, there are tons of Crafts which I'll never practice, but love to read about: just think--tatting, tole, stained glass; so many more. This will be the fifth Cozies Challenge for me in 2016. I'm going for 60 Crafty Cozies (12 a month, 3 a week). I participate in many cozy tours with Escape with Dollycas--so it's possible. Even if not, it'll be fun!

Shelf: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/7302570-mallory-heart-reviews-who-s-coming-down-your-chimney-tonight?shelf=2016_crafty-cozies_challenge

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Review: Ashley Bell

Ashley Bell Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The nature, the quality, the sheer immanence , of this novel, is beyond my limited ability to describe. This year I have read many excellent, wonderful, fantastic, books. Then comes ASHLEY BELL. This novel stands in a category of its own. For me, it's Mr. Koontz' best since THE TAKING. I couldn't set it aside; I didn't want to sleep. ASHLEY BELL is out of this world.

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Monday, December 14, 2015


My rating: 5 of 5 stars


An enjoyable Christmastime tale in rhyme, MR. GETAWAY AND THE CHRISTMAS ELVES also teaches an important lesson: the value of giving to others, in time, effort, and energy, as well as in gifts--giving without expectation. What a great bedtime story to read every night throughout Advent!

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Review: The Other Inheritance

The Other Inheritance The Other Inheritance by Rebecca Jaycox
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE OTHER INHERITANCE by Rebecca Jaycox

Fantasy is not my forte, though I do read it occasionally, depending on the author. Those fantasy authors I select are those whose writing is so appealing that the subject matter is immediately intriguing. Rebecca Jaycox is in this category. I read the Kindle sample and immediately wanted to peruse the novel. I was caught up, and the story effortlessly carried me away.

In the small city of Porth, Reggie, age seventeen, copes with a depressed, alcoholic, mother, the absence of a father, the usual high school bully clique--and the ability to revive life after death, a talent unwanted. Then the dreams begin--or are they visions?--in which she is told she has an important role in the "Master Plan."

THE OTHER INHERITANCE is exceptional YA urban fantasy. I anticipate Rebecca Jaycox' future work.

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Review: Saying Thank You

Saying Thank You Saying Thank You by Monisha Vasa
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: SAYING THANK YOU by Monisha Vasa.

As a child, I was taught the importance of "please," "thank you," and general civility. I taught my children, and I continue to teach my numerous grandchildren. But often I feel like a single drop in an ocean of selfish rudeness. I think modern culture has mostly left civility behind. So when I come upon a book as perfect as SAYING THANK YOU--I am THANKFUL for this book. What a gentle way to teach youngsters the significance of achieving and maintaining an attitude of gratitude, of looking for reasons to be grateful. I feel inspired.

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Review: The Case of the Yellow Diamond

The Case of the Yellow Diamond The Case of the Yellow Diamond by Carl Brookins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I found this mystery quite engrossing, a real page-turner. In the first few pages I expected a sort of modern-day update of the private eye novels of the 1940's, but quickly I became very intrigued by the double mysteries, that in contemporary Minneapolis-St. Paul (and elsewhere in the U.S.) and the historical mystery from 1944, over Yap Island in the Pacific. Author Brookins keeps readers engaged as one mysterious occurrence piles onto another; and always, always just in the background are the events of 1944, the U.S. bombers shot down over Yap Island, a granduncle missing and presumed dead, a military investigation into potential smuggling at that time. You can't go wrong with THE CASE OF THE YELLOW DIAMOND--it's most intriguing.

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Friday, December 11, 2015

Review: Paint the Town Dead

Paint the Town Dead Paint the Town Dead by Sybil Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: PAINT THE TOWN DEAD by Sybil Johnson

PAINT THE TOWN DEAD is one of the most relaxing cozies I have read. This second in the Aurora Anderson. Mysteries Is laid back, gentle, and heartwarming. (Guess that should be in the definition of "cozy.") Aurora ("Rory") is a tole-painter and freelance programmer in Vista Beach, California, a formerly quiet community--until the new Akaw Hotel was constructed. Now some residents are angry, picketing--and throwing rocks in windows, including Rory' s. But all that shouldn't conflict with the Ocean Painting Society's inaugural convention, should it? Hopefully not, but then Rory' s childhood friend, who suffers from narcolepsy, collapses in a tole class at the convention. This time, she isn't asleep.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Review: The House That Got A Lump of Coal For Christmas

The House That Got A Lump of Coal For Christmas The House That Got A Lump of Coal For Christmas by David Healey
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

A delightful short tale with a clear framework, a good balancing of emotions and events, and a happy ending. Good character exposition, particularly in the context of a story of short duration. I particularly liked feisty grandmother Stella, the retired part time maid.
Inspired to look into the series.

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MURDER FIR CHRISTMAS by Joyce and Jim Lavene_Tour

Murder Fir Christmas by Joyce and Jim Lavene

Murder Fir Christmas
by Joyce and Jim Lavene

Murder Fir Christmas will have you humming carols and ho-ho-ho-ing quicker than the Big Guy’s sled makes it around the world!
~Back Porchervations!!

Masterfully written…filled with intrigue, action, laughter, joy, and a mystical beauty that touched my heart, MURDER FIR CHRISTMAS has beat out every book this year to become my number one favorite book of 2015.
~Lisa K’s Book Reviews

This has mystery, humor and a touch of paranormal that combine to entertain you.

An awesome cozy story! Mystery with just a flake of folklore and a touch of paranormal and a little romance too. These authors have imaginations that are truly off the charts.
~Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book

This book was full of adventure and mystery…
~Community Bookstop

The book was wonderful seeing Bonnie again and the way she handles herself with the Tree Farm and more.
~Bab’s Book Bistro

Murder Fir Christmas was a well-crafted mystery with a spunky heroine, engaging characters and a whodunnit that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
~Moonlight Rendezvous

Right from the beginning, you meet some very interesting characters that let you know that this is not going to be your run-of-the-mill murder mystery.
~Bubble Bath Books

Bonnie is a fantastic new character, and I adored the mystical connection that she has with all animals which earns her a Cherokee name.
~Melissa’s Mochas, Mysteries and Meows

Murder Fir Christmas is a hearty book. It’s filled with well developed, interesting characters, a finely paced mystery, a slow brewing romantic interest, and intrigue in many areas on many levels to keep readers engaged.
~Cozy Up With Kathy

With a puzzling mystery, lots of wildlife, a touch of romance and some paranormal elements, I was hooked from the first chapter and didn’t stop until I read the last page. One of those books you can’t wait to finish and hate to finish at the same time.
~FUONLYKNEW – Laura’s Ramblins and Reviews

I really enjoyed this story.
~3 Partners in Shopping; Nana, Mommy, &; Sissy too!

If the mystery isn’t enough to chill your bones, Joyce and Jim do a great job of bringing back memories of the need to shovel and plow the snow, scraping the windshield as the car warms up, and the dangerous driving. I do not miss it!

(Christmas Tree Valley Mysteries)

Cozy Mystery
New Series
Print Length: 208 pages
Publisher: J. Lavene (December 1, 2015)




Down the mountain from Sweet Pepper, Tennessee is Christmas Tree Valley, a place filled with hundreds of Christmas tree farms where generations of growers have made people’s lives brighter. Yet even here in this quiet, postcard-perfect corner of the world, darkness and murder can still stalk the night.

Federal Wildlife Agent Bonnie Tuttle has always had a special gift with wild animals. It was one of the reasons she decided to train with the wildlife agency. She’s spent the last ten years in Alabama working, but her mother needs her home and she’s back despite all the bad parts of her life she hoped to leave behind.

Her first day home begins with a fire on the island in Sweet Pepper Lake and the death of Harvey Shelton, the wildlife agent she’s supposed to replace. Bonnie manages to rescue dozens of animals from the fire – including a wolf pup that was shot with the same bullet that killed Harvey.

Now she’s hot on the trail of Harvey’s killer and trying to reintegrate the wolf back into the wild even though he seems to want to stay with her. Yet old memories persist in the small community where she grew up, and the killer now seems to believe that she has what he killed Harvey for. All she has to do is figure out what that is before it’s too late.

Christmas Recipes included!

I just love this picture of Joyce and Jim

I just love this picture of Joyce and Jim


About The Authors –

Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family.


Author Links





Purchase Link:


Tour Participants

December 2 – Back Porchervations – Review 

December 3 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – Review

December 3 – readalot – Review

December 4 – Community Bookstop – Review

December 4 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Review

December 5 – Babs Book Bistro – Review

December 6 – Moonlight Rendezvous – Review

December 7 – Bubble Bath Books – Review

December 7 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – Review

December 8 – Cozy Up With Kathy – Review

December 9 – fuonlyknew – Review

December 10 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy,  &, Sissy, Too ! – Review

December 10 – fundinmental – Review

December 11 – Mallory Heart Reviews – Review

December 12 – Shelley’s Book Case – Review

December 13 – Laura’s Interests – Review

December 14 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review

December 14 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – Review

December 15 – View from the Birdhouse – Review

December 15 – Book Babble – Review

Life should be peaceful in the tiny Tennessee Appalachian Mountain communities of Christmas Tree Valley and Sweet Pepper (aren't those adorable names?), but as Bonnie Tuttle moves back to her home town after years as a Federal Wildlife Agent in Alabama, peaceful is not what she encounters. Her first day back, arsonists set a fire on an island in the lake, she must help rescue the island's animals, and she finds a wolf injured by the fire. Then the retiring agent she is replacing is murdered, as is another man; a sudden snowfall blankets the area and makes travel impossible; and the agent's corpse is stolen. Add in her mother's Alzheimer's, her snarky brother's contempt, her fear of snow driving, and Bonnie could be forgiven if she decided to return to Alabama. But in the capable hands of authors Joyce and Jim LaVene, Bonnie won't get more than she can handle, and readers everywhere will be cheering her on.