Posted in fiction, Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews

New Release Review: Leave the World Behind

Book Summary from Goodreads:

A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older black couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one another? 

Suspenseful and provocative, Rumaan Alam’s third novel is keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped—and unexpected new ones are forged—in moments of crisis. 

My Review:

This book was weird. An ending that left it all hanging wide open. No questions answered, and no one technically dead. An apocalypse story but with few signs of the actual events shown. From the point of view of strangers stuck together at a vacation home in the middle of nowhere. The disjointed writing took a bit to get used to and I didn’t much care for Amanda or the rest though I was curious as to what would happen. A slow build of a plot that cuts off abruptly leaving you asking “wtf was that?!”

Trigger warnings: 9/11 discussed, kid sick/ill, missing child, and brief sexual scenes between husband/wife

Final Rating: 4/5 ⭐

Posted in Fantasy Book Reviews, Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews

Netgalley Review + Novella: Chili Cauldron Curse

ChiliNovella

Hello friends,

Chili Cauldron Curse by Lynn Cahoon is a delightful novella of witchiness, cozy murder mystery, and cooking all wrapped up in one. I don’t believe that I’ve read anything by this author before, but a short mystery from Kensington Publishers sounded like just the thing to read.

The story takes place with a chili cook off. Mia, our main character, runs the event in terms of cleaning up a food bank for her grandmother, whose a practicing Wiccan. Magic runs in the family, however Mia’s not near as powerful as her grams, though she tries. When she volunteers to assist in running the food bank to help feed the poor, with the chili cook off upcoming as an event, she doesn’t bargain on finding a dead body right before the event’s set to take place…the body belonging to Dorian Alexander, who happens to be her grandmother’s boyfriend.

Threats abound, magic occurs, and cats get inhabited by ghosts in this delightful cozy mystery. This was a fun paranormal mystery, with a spark of potential romance sideplot that was interesting to me as well. With a recipe in back for chili that I’m intrigued in trying one day during the winter holidays, I highly recommend this novella for those in the mood for a fun, light hearted read. I’m pleased to give this five stars, and I’m definitely going to keep reading more from this author in the future.

Until next time,

Pass Me That Book

Posted in Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews, Romance

Book Review: The Haunting of Hillwood Farm

The Haunting of Hillwood Farm

Hello friends,

The Haunting of Hillwood Farm by Kathryn Knight starts off with a strong opening, and is essentially  a ghost story set on a haunted farm, complete with horses and dark, edgy vibes throughout the story.  The story itself began with an opening chapter of a woman named Alice with a haunted kitchen, where a sugar jar moves by itself-and then explodes, causing her to call up a psychic that can hear ghosts speak-a gift that Callie never wanted. Arriving at the farm, more accidents and dangerous events unfold throughout both the farm, and her own place later on through the story. Ghosts, apparently, want her gone.

It’s thought that Alice’s husband, Henry, is the spirit causing the distress as he unexpectedly passed away. There was a lot of suspects throughout the story of who the ghost might be, some nice scenes with the horses, and a few clips of adventure where there’s a fire, a scattering of dangerous accidents, and even a romantic element thrown in with Alice’s grandson, Luke Turner. The three get together to buckle down, and solve the mystery…before someone else gets killed or hurt.

Overall, the writing was strong, and I quite liked all the characters. Everyone felt fully fleshed out and real, and I spent a solid three hours breezing through this story, as once you start, you don’t want to quit. I devoured the book in one sitting, and gave it 4.5 stars. I recommend it for those who enjoy a good ghost story during the summer, or even for Halloween, it would be a perfect read for that spooky atmosphere. The romance was also well handled, and I definitely find myself intrigued in checking out the author’s other works. This book was available through Kindle Unlimited, for those that wish to grab it for themselves, and I highly recommend it.

Until next time,

Pass Me That Book.

Posted in Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews, Romance

Book Review: Mistress of Mellyn

Mistress of Mellyn

Title: Mistress of Mellyn
Author: Victoria Holt
Genre: Adult Romance/Suspense
Series: No
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Page Count: 400
Received: Yard Sale
Format: Physical
Review Word Count: 500
Rated: 4/5 stars
Notes: A rather nice, slightly spooky historical romance intrigue novel for Halloween.

==

Mistress of Mellyn is not my first Victoria Holt that I’ve read, though it has been a while since I’ve picked one of her books up. I’ve forgotten how much I enjoy her writing; the spooky atmosphere, the details, the characters-all of it is rather really well done. This one was just not quite spooky enough, but it definitely had a dark mysterious vibe to it that was ripe for Halloween, and made me glad that I selected this one for one of the last books of the month to read. I found myself reading this over the course of four days, letting the rich atmosphere build, until it reached a satisfying conclusion.

Goodreads Summary:

Mount Mellyn stood as proud and magnificent as she had envisioned… But what about its master–Connan TreMellyn? Was Martha Leigh’s new employer as romantic as his name sounded? As she approached the sprawling mansion towering above the cliffs of Cornwall, an odd chill of apprehension overcame her.

TreMellyn’s young daugher, Alvean, proved as spoiled and difficult as the three governesses before Martha had discovered. But it was the girl’s father whose cool, arrogant demeanor unleashed unfamiliar sensations and turmoil–even as whispers of past tragedy and present danger begin to insinuate themselves into Martha’s life.

Powerless against her growing desire for the enigmatic Connan, she is drawn deeper into family secrets–as passion overpowers reason, sending her head and heart spinning. But though evil lurks in the shadows, so does love–and the freedom to find a golden promise forever…

I liked the main character. She was gutsy, strong and had a no-nonsense manner about her that wasn’t off putting though sometimes seemed unreasonable in certain situations. I felt she could have handled the children better in some parts, but otherwise, she was not abusive or cruel towards them at all. There were some questionable teaching methods involved, but as this is an old book, I let that slide. Otherwise, I thought she handled everything nicely.

The mystery element was one of a ghostly nature. She’s apparently a dead ringer for the children’s mother, who passed away several years ago, or so people have claimed, but the stories don’t match up. The mystery is well woven, and kept me guessing until the end, though I suspected I knew where it was heading, I was surprised when I realized that I’d guessed wrong which is always nice in reading.

Overall, I really liked this. Strong writing, great characters, and a good read for Halloween. I gave it four out of five stars, and will continue on with reading more of Victoria Holt’s books.

Until next time,
-Pass Me That Book

Posted in Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews, Romance

Book Review: Foul Play

Foul Play

Title: Foul Play
Author: Janet Evanovich
Genre: Adult Romance
Page Count: 250
Publisher: Harper Fiction
Type of Book: Paperback, Owned
Received: Thrift Store
Review Word Count: 500
Rated: 3.5 stars rounded up to 4/5 stars
Notes: A silly yet pleasant, a great read for fall

I randomly picked up one of my many, many Janet Evanovich books that I hadn’t read (I think I’ve about thirty of them I’ve not gotten my way through yet, I really need to re-read the series at the start too of Stephanie Plum) and finished this in one sitting, admittedly skimming through a large portion in the middle.

The book was silly, but not bad. I liked Amy and Elliot. I liked the animals. I liked the ridiculous situations that the characters got in. It didn’t wow the pants off of me as a story, but I still was entertained regardless. Amy reminded me similarly to Stephanie, in a weird kind of way. A subtle similarity that barely surfaced. I believe these books were pre-Stephanie Plum, though I could be wrong. I’d have to check on Goodreads to be sure.

The plot is as follows from Goodreads

When Amy Klasse loses her TV job to a dancing chicken, handsome veterinarian Jake Elliott rescues her with an offer to be his receptionist. Jake just can’t resist a damsel in distress, and Amy certainly doesn’t mind Jake’s charming sincerity.
Then suddenly the job-stealing chicken disappears and Amy is suspected of foul play. Amy and Jake search for clues to prove her innocence. But will Jake be able to prove to Amy that love, too, is a mystery worth solving?

Overall, I liked it. I’m glad I read it, because it was fun. I’m getting repetitive, so I’ll just end things here. If you’re a fan of Janet Evanovich? I’d recommend trying this when you don’t feel like reading anything serious during the holidays. It’s a good fall read, and with lots of funny moments, I found myself grinning quite a bit through this one.

3.5 rounded up to 4/5 stars.

Until next time,
-Pass Me That Book

Posted in Historical Fiction Book Reviews, Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews

Book Review: Grave Expectations

Grave Expectations

Title: Grave Expectations
Author: Heather Redmond
Series: Book 2
Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books
Page Count: 400
Type of Book: Arc, Kindle Ebook
Received: Publisher, Netgalley
Review Word Count: 500
Rated: 5/5 stars
Notes: I haven’t read book one, but it seems you don’t need to in order to read book two, thankfully.

This was a fun read, and worthy of Dickens. I really think he would enjoy this series, as it’s entertaining, well written, and with such strong characters. With plenty of excitement to go around from women falling out of windows by accident to discovering corpses, this mystery will definitely delight readers fond of historical fiction and who-dun-it’s.

I’m determined to get book one so that I can fill in some of the gaps. I feel it would at least help me figure out how Kate and Charles met, and why they’re so enamored with each other-he seems to treat her nicely enough, but also whenever she wants to go do something dangerous he’s all “now, now, let’s not be hasty, you’re a woman you must stay behind where it’s safe” which seems a bit sexist, though that was how it was during those times, I can’t fault him too much for that. It comes off more romantic as well, instead of sexist, because while he’s very telling in what she does, he’s not an asshole about it.

Charles is an overall good guy, he helps others that needs it, goes to those who are in danger and try to rescue them, and is generally the hero of the story. Kate is a kind girl who tries to help as much as she possibly can. There’s plenty for writers to like about this too, with passages of Charles struggling to come up with rhymes or lines for songs or sketches. And there’s one nod that I rather enjoyed about a guy suggesting Charles write books and Charles vehemently in denial about anyone buying anything he writes. Hehe. If only you knew Charles.

The mystery itself wasn’t hard to solve, though it was entertaining. All the clues were there, and with plenty of suspects you have chances in guessing wrong. There’s thieves, a murdered woman, and a dreadful tenant within these pages that all wind up getting their mysteries solved in the end, with a couple of harrowing moments for Mr. Dickens.

The book does leave it rather open for a sequel to follow through, so I’m sure when it comes out I’ll request it having thoroughly enjoyed this one. Overall, I’m giving this 4.5 out of 5 stars, rounding it up to 5/5 stars. I really like this author’s writing style, and I’m irate that I left it sitting in my kindle so long.
Until next time,
-Pass Me That Book

Posted in Historical Fiction Book Reviews, LGBT Book Reviews, Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews, Romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Woman in the Veil

The Woman in the Veil

Title: The Woman in the Veil
Author: Laura Joh Rowland
Series: Book 4
Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Historical
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Page Count: 400
Type of Book: Arc, Kindle Ebook
Received: Publisher, Netgalley
Review Word Count:
Rated: 4/5 stars
Notes:

I haven’t read any of the first three books, but will likely rectify that when I can because I very much enjoyed book four. While the mystery of Sleeping Beauty, as she’s called by the papers in this book, was interesting, I wasn’t fully invested in this book. I feel as though I missed out a lot on the characters, and their stories from previous novels. While the author does a great job of letting you know what’s happened, I feel it’s best to read this series in order.

There was a surprising gay couple in the book of which I very much enjoyed seeing, especially with one of the characters being a former priest. That was very surprising and nice to see in historical fiction for a change. I liked the main character, and I liked the mystery overall. But as I said, I think I’ll read the other three books and then re-read this one to see how I feel about it.

Overall I liked it, but I think I’ll enjoy it more when I read the rest of the series. 4/5 stars.

Until next time,
Pass Me That Book

Posted in LGBT Book Reviews, Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews, Romance

Book Review: Hitting Black Ice

Hitting Black Ice

Title: Hitting Black Ice
Author: Heloise West
Series: Book 1
Genre: Adult Fiction, Romance, LGBT
Page Count: 200
Publisher: NineStar Press
Type of Book: Arc, Kindle Ebook
Received: Netgalley, Publisher
Review Word Count: 500
Rated: 4/5 stars
Notes: High action, lots of romance, and plenty of thrills.

This is one of those rare Netgalley arcs that I requested because it sounded like exactly what I wanted to read, got it within two hours, and then finished it three hours later. It left the book hanging wide open for a sequel, but I fell hard for Shawn and Hunter. Both young men were involved in a high stakes hostage situation, an mysterious FBI guy chasing after Shawn, guns, shootings, and more dangerous scenarios taking place in the snowy mountains during blizzard like conditions. Exactly what I wanted to read.

The only reason it’s four stars was because it left it hanging on a cliffhanger. Sigh. I very much need book two, and I am now invested in this series. The author immediately soared to my top ten favorite LGBT authors.

This made me think very strongly of the survival stories of Stargate Atlantis fanfiction that I used to read in a way, with lots of plot, romance, and characters. I very much enjoyed this and eagerly look forward to book two. Overall, I’m giving this 4/5 stars, and I’m hopeful book two will be out as quickly as possible. I especially liked the dogs that were thrown into the plot for good measure and the heroic rescue at the end. Highly recommended for those who enjoy fast paced action with lots of twists and turns!

Until next time,
-Pass Me That Book

Posted in Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews

Book Review: Tracking Game

Tracking Game

Title: Tracking Game
Author: Margaret Mizushima
Series: Book 5
Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Page Count: ?
Type of Book: Kindle Ebook, Arc
Received: Publisher, Netgalley
Review Word Count: 500
Rated: 4/5 stars
Notes: I haven’t ready any of the rest of the series, nor have I read anything else from this author.

~*~

This was an interesting read. A standalone mystery, you really don’t have to read the rest of the series to get the gist, and it doesn’t give spoilers for the last few books in the series either, or at least not that I noticed. I liked it, overall, especially the dog.

It starts off with a literal bang-romance in the air, when a date is abruptly canceled when an explosion rocks nearby, killing one person…but it wasn’t due to the van exploding, it was two bullets to the chest. CPR definitely wasn’t going to revive that poor fella.

It goes on from there, tracking down who killed them, and there’s lots of hiking, mystery, twists and turns and overall plenty of goodness to be had within these pages. I’m terribly at writing reviews for mystery novels, can you tell? My problem is that I really don’t want to give away all the details, because I like going into mysteries blind with only a few things to guide me into if I want to read this or not. Or I pick the book because of the cover without realizing it’s part of a series. Lol, whoops.

Regardless, I highly recommend this one. It’s good, it’s not too long, and it’s not overly descriptive on either. There’s plenty of action to be had, and the characters are good enough that it almost seems like you’re standing there with them as they’re running for their lives.

4/5 stars.

Until next time,
-Pass Me That Book

Posted in Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews

Book Review: The Time for Murder is Meow

Time for Murder

Title: The Time for Murder is Meow
Author: T.C. LoTempio
Series: Book 1
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Page Count: ?
Type of Book: Kindle Ebook
Received: Netgalley
Rated: 3/5 stars
Review Word Count: 300
Notes:

~*~

This was a quick enough read for me, read over the space of a day and a half. While the plot was interesting, the middle sagged a bit with not enough to keep me interested in the story overall, and admittedly I skimmed a bit towards the end. It wasn’t one of my favorite cozy mysteries ever, but it was still entertaining enough to read on through to the very end. I doubt that I’ll continue with the series, however. The animals were all fun to read, and the characters definitely had their own interesting points in regards to the plot. While I’ve seen some of the tricks pulled before in solving the mystery and therefore figured out the killer about halfway through the book, it was still a reasonable written novel that’s the first in a series.

Enjoyable, and would recommend to new cozy mystery fans. Therefore, I’m giving this a 3.5/5 stars, and I feel that anyone who likes ‘the cat who’ series would enjoy this one.

Until next time,
-Pass Me That Book