Category: New Books

Kamo: Pact with the Spirit World Vol 2
October 3rd, 2018 by diane92345

Kamo and Shokola are once again helping demon Crimson in Kamo: Pact with the Spirit World Vol 2.

Kamo makes a deal with demon Crimson. To be permanently cured of his deadly heart condition, he must capture twelve spirits to allow Crimson to become human again. In volume 1 (reviewed here), Kamo captures four. In this volume, Shokola leads a seance with Kamo that goes horribly wrong.

Kamo: Pact with the Spirit World Vol 2 relies on strong character development of both Crimson and Shokola. The seance aftermath sends shock waves through Shokola’s family. Kamo ups his demon fighting technique. Some new inventive spirits are found. There is a shocking twist at the end that should not be missed. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Toykopop, and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.

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Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books, Paranormal Tagged with: ,

Gluten Free Instant Pot Cookbook
October 2nd, 2018 by diane92345

Containing fifty delicious sounding recipes, the Gluten-free Instant Pot Cookbook is both a flavor booster and a time saver for gluten-free cooks.

Beginning with a cheesy poblano frittata breakfast, savory creamy polenta and various soups like spicy butternut squash, this cookbook has a bit of everything. Who knew you could make lasagna in an instant pot? Or saffron risotto (with no more endless stirring)? The dessert chapter sounds particularly yummy filled with tasty treats like rice and bread pudding plus a to-die-for double chocolate fudge cheesecake. There are also easy bone broths for paleo fans.

Recipes are clearly labeled with other common allergens like dairy, egg, soy, and nut. There are vegan and vegetarian recipes included too. The only issue I have is the total lack of pictures or nutritional information. The pictures can be found on the author’s Heritage Cook food blog so I’m not sure why they aren’t in the book.

The recipes are surprisingly innovative. For example, the Shrimp and Grits recipe uses the Pot’s saute function to cook the aromatics first. The sauce is then covered with a trivet and bowl to cook the grits. After a short time, the grits are removed and the shrimp is added to the sauce for heating. It is very innovative to cook everything in one instant pot making the Gluten-free Instant Pot Cookbook a perfect gift for a college student with an instant pot but little else to cook within a dorm room.

The recipes are worth 5 stars. However, the complete lack of pictures and nutritional information brings my rating down to 4.

Thanks to Fair Winds Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

The Flash Vol 7: Perfect Storm
October 2nd, 2018 by diane92345

The Flash Vol 7: Perfect Storm shows the Flash Family at its best—battling villains together.

Barry Allen is the Flash. His arch nemesis, Grodd, has built a giant lightning rod to catch the speed force in the hopes of saving his own life. The lightning rod slows time throughout Central City. Barry isn’t strong enough to combat Grodd, Multiplex and Negative Flash alone so he gets some from help from Wally, Kid Flash and Avery.

I admit that I haven’t read a Flash story since Barry died in the 1980s. He was resurrected in 2008 in Final Conflict. This was followed by six issues of The Flash: Rebirth. Despite three reboots including title changes and renumberings, Barry has been continuing his Flash story since 2010. The Flash Vol 7: Perfect Storm collects The Flash Vol 5 #39-45 from the DC Rebirth.

The Flash Vol 7: Perfect Storm explains enough of the Flash Family’s back stories to allow it to be read as a stand-alone. The plot involves the fear of losing self by trusting others. It has a nice message that power isn’t always everything. It’s a good lesson for younger comics fans. The artwork is stellar and pops with bright colors. 4 stars!

Thanks to DC Comics and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books Tagged with: ,

Infidel
October 1st, 2018 by diane92345

Infidel is a modern-day haunted house story set in a bomb-ravaged New York City pre-war apartment.

Aisha is Muslim. She is engaged to non-muslim Tom. Tom has a daughter named Kris and a mother named Leslie. When they all move into Leslie’s apartment after it is partially blown up by a white supremacist resident, Tom thinks his mother is racist and wants to leave. Aisha convinces him to stay despite her constant nightmares about the dead bomber. As the ghost starts to appear in her waking life, Aisha turns to the neighbors for help. One, a writer, believes another resident in the blast was heavily into the occult.

Infidel is a creepy little horror tale reminiscent of Rosemary’s Baby, the Legend of Hell House—both old school 1960/1970s movies—and Get Out. The addition of race politics both modernizes the tale and ups the terror substantially. No wonder this tale was optioned for a movie after only two episodes were released. The scariest part is the 1 on the front cover. Will the building return in future outings? 5 stars!

Thanks to Image Comics and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.

Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror, New Books Tagged with:

Dead Ringer
October 1st, 2018 by diane92345

Dead Ringer is another perfect cozy mystery featuring Agatha Raisin!

A group of eight bell ringers is planning a song to welcome the handsome and single bishop to their small village, Thirk Magna. The village church is full of secrets. Bishop Peter’s girlfriend disappeared without a trace a few years earlier. The vicar allegedly beats his wife. When he is found bound and injured in his home, two twin congregants explain they were playing a bondage game with him. The new policeman who responds to Agatha’s call sells the vicar’s story to the tabloids. When the policeman is later found dead, Agatha and her detective agency spring into action.

After watching the excellent Acorn Agatha Raisin series on television, I couldn’t wait to read the latest book in the series. Dead Ringer doesn’t disappoint. The bodies pile up, and multiple people fall into and out of love. Just another day in the Cotswolds.

Dead Ringer is perfect for readers looking for a side of dry British wit with their cozy mystery. 4 stars!

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Christmas Cake Murder
September 30th, 2018 by diane92345

The Christmas Cake Murder turns the clock back to before Hannah opened her bakery, The Cookie Jar.

In a short prequel set before the rest of the books in the series, Hannah returns home from college to attend her father’s funeral. Her mother, Delores, is understandably depressed so she is given a task to take her mind off her troubles. She is asked to help a local older woman, Essie, who has broken her hip. Essie wants to return to her youth by recreating the old-fashioned Christmas Cake Ball. Delores, Hannah and her sisters work together on the project by renovating an old ballroom and baking lots of cakes. Most of the cake and frosting recipes are shared with the reader.

Meanwhile, Hannah decides to drop out of college and forego her dream of becoming a college professor. Why quit college? Over a man (foreshadowing the issues many had with the previous book in the series). Also, the family reads a unfinished crime novel by Essie they find in her room.

The mystery in the Christmas Cake Murder is painfully obvious from the beginning. However, Essie’s crime story is good and drives readers to finish the book. It was also nice to hear why and how Hannah started her business. In addition, there is a heartwarming Christmas story ending. However, the lack of any mystery in a cozy mystery is a serious plot problem. For completists out there (like me) who have read the entire series, this is an interesting read. For others, I wouldn’t recommend it. Do not start the series here—start at the delightful series beginning. 2 1/2 stars.

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Premeditated Peppermint
September 29th, 2018 by diane92345

Another murder for Bailey to solve in the excellent cozy mystery, Premeditated Peppermint, the third entry in the Amish Candy Shop series.

Bailey works with her Amish grandmother and cousin in her deceased grandfather’s candy shop, Swissmen Sweets in rural Ohio. When Bailey’s NYC ex-boyfriend hits town, he asks her for help in filming the local Harvest Christmas Market for his reality series. Bailey has a table at the Market featuring peppermint candy.

When the series’ producer ends up dead with Eric as the prime suspect, Bailey investigates. Meanwhile, the mother of Bailey’s boyfriend, Deputy Aiden, asks Bailey for help making her pet pig, Jethro, a movie star.

I loved this series from the beginning. However, this entry is the best yet. It is a perfect blend of kooky locals, light romance, a pleasant setting, a tasty sounding recipe for Peppermint Bark and humor within an intriguing mystery.

Because the story moves forward in each entry in the series, it is best to read them in order. However, there is enough back story quickly presented in this book to allow Premeditated Peppermint to be read as a stand-alone too.

I can’t wait to read Toxic Toffee, the next series entry in the series, previewed in this book! Premeditated Peppermint does not disappoint. It is highly recommended to cozy mystery fans. 4 1/2 stars!

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Silver Anniversary Murder
September 28th, 2018 by diane92345

There are two mysteries in the Silver Anniversary Murder.

The first is the death of Lucy’s old friend Beth. Beth’s jump from her penthouse’s balcony is ruled a suicide. But Lucy, a reporter in small town Maine, doesn’t believe it. After all, Beth has three ex-husbands and one almost ex who all had motive to kill her.

The second is why Warren and Sylvia Bickford are having a town-wide celebration of their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Sylvia is constantly putting Warren down in public. Could it just be a publicity stunt for her wedding shop and his limo service?

The Silver Anniversary Murder is the 25th book in the Lucy Stone series. I disliked the last entry, the Turkey Trot Murder, intensely. My 1 star review is here. I’m glad to report this entry has returned to form. It is recommended to cozy readers who want a nice simple evening’s entertainment. 3 stars!

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Think Yourself Thin
September 27th, 2018 by diane92345

“The vast majority of dieters who lose weight will gain it all back within three to five years.” To permanently lose the weight, the author suggests that dieters must Think Yourself Thin.

Beginning with the five stages of weight loss: Fed Up, Honeymoon, Stall (weight-loss plateau), Ideal Weight and Maintaining, the author reviews what could go wrong. Her solution is:

Slay resistence

Use visualization

Commit

Control emotions

Establish habits

Support system

Spiritual life

Finally, the author includes a 30-day mental mastery plan and quite a few success stories. The plan includes journaling thoughts, meditating, mindfulness, prayer, and visualizing success.

I’m disappointed that there isn’t much new in Think Yourself Thin. For the author of the 10-day Green Smoothie Challenge, I expected more originality. However, if you haven’t already read a diet book addressing the mental aspects of dieting, this would be a good choice. Think Yourself Thin motivates the reader with its Can Do attitude. The success stories at the end encourage by the variety of ways these people overcome various challenges and finally lost the weight. 3.5 stars.

Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Damage Vol 1: Out of Control
September 26th, 2018 by diane92345

Private First Class Ethan Avery is enlisted to become a one-man army in Damage Vol 1: Out of Control, part of the New Age of Heroes series.

Ethan is genetically modified by the army to have super strength and defense along with being the size of a three-story building. When transformed, he is called Damage. He can only transform for one hour each day before he must rest. On his first mission to destroy the Vlatvian facists threatening the US with nuclear war, he is a great success. When he goes rogue, the Suicide Squad volunteers to help defuse him with unplanned results. Eventually, Wonder Woman is also called in to help.

The plot reminds me of a famous comic movie franchise only their man-into-monster has retractible claws. Even though the plot wasn’t too original, the artwork was. It’s awesome! It uses real shadowing—not the usual cross-hatching—and accurate light sources. The feeling is almost photorealistic except for the extraordinary images being portrayed. The coloring is also true to life rather than the usual bright or dusky color palette.

Damage Vol 1: Out of Control is perfect for comic art fans. The art gets 5 stars but the plot only 3 for a net score of 4 stars! (Sorry my accounting alter ego might be showing a bit here.)

Thanks to DC Comics and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books Tagged with: , ,

Justice League: No Justice
September 25th, 2018 by diane92345

Justice League: No Justice shows the impact of the dark multiverse is continuing.

After the wall was opened up between the multiverse and the dark multiverse in Dark Nights: Metal, a new evil is unleashed upon the galaxy. The four Omega Titans each represent one of the fundamental energies of sentient life: entropy, wisdom, wonder and mystery. When Wisdom attacks Brainiac’s home planet, Brainiac brings together all the galaxy’s heroes, villains and monsters to fight together using his sophisticated plan. Brainiac is unable to explain his plan fully when tragedy strikes him—leaving the new team forced to fight the Omega Titans on their own.

It’s great to see all the gang working together against a common enemy. Also, the plot forces entities that usually rely on their brawn to start using their brain. The art is beautiful as usual but the plot is the star here. Since I love a good plot, 5 stars! Highly recommended for all superhero comic fans. I can’t wait for the next episode.

Thanks to the publisher, DC Comics, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books Tagged with: , ,

Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller
September 24th, 2018 by diane92345

“Your eyes are bigger than a hooch hound at a hop joint” says Jack in the Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller. That perfectly describes my feelings when I saw this delightful series return after a ten year long Big Sleep.

Penelope runs a bookstore with her aunt Sadie in Quindicott, Rhode Island. A widow, after her husband’s suicide, Penelope returns to her hometown with her eleven year old son. While renovating the bookstore, she disturbs Jack, the ghost of a 1940s hard-boiled detective. Jack offers Penelope much unsolicited advice in the patois of his time.

At the bookstore, new customer, Emma, sees an author photo on a steamy novel that disturbs her. While the author’s name is not familiar, the author’s photo is. It’s Emma herself! Without paying, Emma races out with the book in hand.

Penelope uncovers Emma’s address and goes there after work to recover the book. She finds the door unlocked, rare books everywhere and Emma dead of an apparent suicide. When incompetent Chief Ciders refuses to look into the case as a suspicious death, Penelope and Jack investigate.

I read most of this series as they were published in the 2000s. I always enjoyed the gentle joshing of Sam Spade type detectives. The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller carries on seamlessly in this tradition. Despite his language and tough guy attitude, Jack seems like a real and caring person. Emma is an excellent amateur detective who rarely makes a wrong move—mostly because of Jack’s help.

The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller is highly recommended for cozy mystery readers looking for something a bit different. There are plenty of suspects and deaths to keep armchair detectives busy. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Berkeley Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Paranormal Tagged with: ,

Suicide Gene
September 23rd, 2018 by diane92345

Dr. Emma Rose is convinced that there is a Suicide Gene that makes some families, like the Hemingway’s, more likely to kill themselves in this introspective thriller.

Emma is a psychiatrist counseling the McKinney family before one of their members commit suicide. Emma struggles with her own marital and psychological issues. She was adopted and her birth files have mysteriously disappeared. Her lifelong obsession with genetics leads her to conclude that her patients are her long-lost siblings. The McKinneys have a history of suicide, depression and infidelity. Emma has been mistaken for them on several occasions due their physical similarities. At the same time, Emma suspects that her husband, Josh, is cheating on her.

There is a swirling mishmash of plots circling the possibly unreliable narrator. Emma and most of the other characters are very unsympathetic and cold. It is hard to care much about what will happen to them. However, the two mysteries found within Suicide Gene are intriguing enough to keep the reader moving forward. This is an extremely dark story. Readers with a history of suicidal thoughts, family Alzheimer’s or breast cancer will probably not enjoy this book. However, it is very different from most thrillers or mysteries so those looking for something unique will enjoy it. 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Wild Rose Press, Inc., and NetGalley for a copy in an exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Battlestar Suburbia
September 22nd, 2018 by diane92345

Battlestar Suburbia is a humorous take on a common science fiction question.  What if the machines took over?

How did the machines take over Earth and its solar system? Internet memes become so stupid that people stop using the Internet. Without its audience, the Internet becomes first hostile and then weaponized as it develops intelligence.  Once the intelligence is passed to hardware, all machines eventually wake up to the fact that they are inherently superior to the bags of flesh called humanity.  Humans are only kept around to clean. Without waterproof opposable thumbs, machines have difficulty with those types of tasks. Some humans clean machines intimately, if you know what I mean. Unproductive humans, those without a job, are imprisoned.

When Darren loses his livelihood as well as his wallet, he is forced to find another job. After striking out at the official Job Temple and as an unofficial streetwalker (see intimately comment above), he is forced to team up with Kelly.  Kelly is also a streetwalker but has a family of beauticians who help them both. In the meantime, Pam, a sentient breadmaker, is sent by the state to unofficially search the Internet for Kelly.

I wanted Battlestar Suburbia to be another Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which it was not.  However, I’m not sure it was fair of me to have such high expectations. So I would recommend that readers go into this book with no expectations other than spending a few hours in a possible future world where the narrator quite frequently says funny things. Puns rain supreme. From the motto of the Job Temple, “You Betta Werk” to planets named “Municipal Parking” to the great goddess of the Internet, “Alexa”, the jokes are frequently groaners based on pop culture.  Overall, I liked this quick read. It was like the Simpson’s episodes on Halloween—light and humorous. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Farrago, and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in Humor, New Books, Science Fiction Tagged with: ,

Weaving on a Little Loom
September 22nd, 2018 by diane92345

Everything a beginning weaver needs to start Weaving on a Little Loom.

This book has clear and concise instructions—most with pictures or diagrams. It begins with the tools needed. Next, the author describes the different weaving and edging techniques. Finally, there are five project plans: a wall hanging, a clutch bag, a placemat, a pillow and a larger tote or laptop bag. What is nicer are the explanations of how to plan your own projects from the conceptual drawings to yarn selection to spec sheet creation. The spec sheet includes all the detail about the project allowing it to be replicated later.

I love the easy “friend talking about their favorite hobby” feel of the text. The author, by clearly laying out the requirements, makes weaving sound less intimidating than in other instructional books. I especially like the low cash outlay necessary to see if weaving is for you. A reader could do their first small project using only inexpensive yarn, a cardboard loom, a finger skein shuttle, a standard dinner fork, a ruler and scissors. Overall, if you are interested in trying weaving, Weaving on a Little Loom is a great book to jumpstart your success. 4 stars!

Thanks to Princeton Architectural Press and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

Rising Out of Hatred
September 21st, 2018 by diane92345

Rising Out of Hatred is the fascinating true story of how a heir apparent to a white nationalist dynasty turned away from hate.

Home schooled by his racist family, Derek Black seemed on a path to hatred. Derek was a frequent contributor to his father’s prominent white nationalist website. He also had his own white nationalist radio talk show. Derek believed what he had been taught to believe by his family, friends and co-workers. When he subsequently attends a liberal college, he realizes that people that look different from himself are not that different inside.

An inside look at the white nationalist movement along with a possible reason for all the devisiveness in politics and life today. Is it as simple as getting to know your demonized enemy better? We have all met racists who have exceptions for some people of the ostrasized nationality while still being suspicious of the rest of their race. I doubt it is as simple to change viewpoints as Rising Out of Hatred describes for most racists. However, it is a good way to begin a dialogue with the “others” in our world. 4 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Doubleday Books, and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,