It’s December in Massachusetts in the latest adventure of Sid the animated skeleton where The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking in anticipation of Christmas morning.
When Bryon, teenager Madison’s Akita, finds a human femur, it is no surprise. After all, their family has an animated skeleton named Sid living in their attic. Her mother, Georgia, quickly agrees to go with Madison to give the bone back to Sid and apologize. However, when they talk to Sid, he quickly informs them that he isn’t missing a bone. Realizing the bone is from a stranger, they call the police. The skeleton’s identity leads the police to suspect one of Georgia’s fellow adjunct professors. Georgia decides to solve the crime with the help of Sid’s head.
It is a credit to the author that you don’t have a minute of doubt with any of the paranormal aspects of Sid’s very existence. An animated skeleton who help solves mysteries by hiding his head and a cell phone in Georgia’s Day of the Dead bucket bag? It sounds absurd but somehow works. I’ve read at least three of the six cozy mysteries in this series including the first two books but The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking is fine as a standalone mystery. However, beware the genuine characters and laugh-out-loud humor of the series will draw you in quickly. You will soon be quietly stalking your library, bookstore, or Amazon account looking for the entire series. If you like cozy mysteries, you can’t miss this excellent book. 5 stars!
Thanks to Diversion Books and NetGalley for granting my wish for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
President Trump has been involved in over 3,500 lawsuits throughout the years. That makes him the Plaintiff in Chief. But what else does that tell us about him?
By all accounts, young Donald wanted to be like his father—rich and aggressive. Fred Trump lied obsessively about everything. He believed that the law didn’t apply to him or his mobster friends. However, he was partial to suing people defensively to prevent someone from doing something he didn’t like even if it was perfectly legal and even just. Donald expanded on that by also using lawsuits to advertise his “Art of the Deal” brand. Once Donald befriended Roy Cohn, a mob lawyer in the 1970s, whatever moral, ethical or even practical inhibition he might have had was lost.
I found the facts in Plaintiff in Chief fascinating. It is amazing what a person can get away with using just prevarication and chutzpah. However, I felt the author was writing from an emotional point of view. He would repeat himself frequently. I am also not totally on board with some of his conclusions. Therefore, even though it was an interesting read, I would only recommend it to people who already dislike President Trump. I don’t think it will change anyone’s viewpoint. 3 stars.
Thanks to All Points Books, St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Their Last Breath is an engrossing British police procedural where nothing is as you expect.
Gillian Lane is running for her life down a quiet English lane from a masked assailant when she is hit by a taxi and taken to hospital. When the police investigate, they find her husband and another woman tortured and strangled in her kitchen.
Meanwhile, retired detective Warren is called back to duty to investigate a mass death scene that appears to implicate one of the police’s own. An abandoned hospital is the site of a horrific fire where six women are found chained to their room’s wall. Five are dead when the firefighters arrive but one is clinging precariously to life. Could the name scratched on the floor, Hayat, be the same woman telling her tale of being a Syrian refugee in alternate chapters?
It doesn’t take a Mensa ID to figure out the dead woman is the refugee. But how the cases are connected and especially the thrilling twist at the end makes Their Last Breath a great read for police procedural fans. 4 stars!
Thanks to Amazon Publishing UK and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Jackson Bird had a problem growing up in a 1990s suburban Texas neighborhood. Born female, Jackson identified more with boy clothes and haircuts. However, in high school, Jackson tried to ignore the feeling by dressing feminine. During college, Jackson became a gay trans male and a videographer. This is his story.
Jackson’s story is heartfelt and emotional but also empowering. He now is happily pursuing his most important documentary—his own story. He tells of confusion about trans culture because of growing up in a heavily role-based town. Both girls and boys had parts to play in life and there was little to no variation allowed.
To avoid that issue with other people, Jackson does YouTube videos, TED talks, and this excellent book that explains how to speak and interact with people who just happen to be trans. It also is a memoir of Jackson’s experience of awakening and ultimate transition. By Sorted, the author means like by the sorting hat in Harry Potter—not in the British slang meaning of fixing a problem. It’s not a problem, it’s just Jackson.
While Sorted is a great book if you or a loved one is having some gender issues, it is also an excellent memoir that most people will enjoy. Jackson’s story is brutally honest and compelling to read. 5 stars!
Thanks to Tiller Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Two Bites Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery) by Debra H. Goldstein
It’s all about the characters, baby, in Two Bites Too Many (and yes I did just reference an old Puff Daddy/Diddy hip-hop song from 1997.)
Maybelle is the protective Southern mama of twins, Sarah and Emily. Emily is denied a business loan at the small town local bank. Maybelle brings recently rich Sarah with her to complain to the bank’s manager, Lance, about the loan denial. When Lance is found dead on his desk a few moments later by Maybelle, she is suspect number one. What can Sarah do but find the real murderer to save her mother from a long prison term?
The small town of Wheaton Alabama, near Birmingham, is so well described that you feel like you traveled there. It’s an even more southern version of Mayberry.
But truly the characters are the stars here. Sarah is finally recovering from her divorce with the help of her Siamese cat RahRah’s inheritance and her job running an animal parade. Sarah quickly learns why there is a joke about the difficulties of herding cats. Emily is trying to rebuild her restaurant after a catastrophic fire. However, Maybelle is my favorite. She uses her southern charm to cover an unladylike amount of spunk and determination. Slap her or her children and draw back a stump—figuratively of course.
The mystery itself was rather easy to solve. However, Two Bites Too Many allows its readers to fall into a completely different, tightly-bound family for a few hours. And who doesn’t want to do that? Highly recommended for cozy fans. There are cats, dogs, an animal parade, and small town southern charm in abundance here plus recipes at the end. 4 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for one print copy at the bottom of this page!
Far from a domestic goddess, Sarah Blair would rather catch bad guys than slave over a hot stove. But when a dangerous murder boils over in Wheaton, Alabama, catching the killer means leaving her comfort zone . . .
Things are finally looking up for Sarah Blair following her unsavory divorce. Settled into a cozy carriage house with her sassy Siamese cat, RahRah, she has somehow managed to hang on to her modest law firm receptionist job and—if befriending flea-bitten strays at the local animal shelter counts—lead a thriving social life. For once, Sarah almost has it together more than her enterprising twin, Emily, a professional chef whose efforts to open a gourmet restaurant have hit a real dead end.
When the president of the town bank and city council is murdered after icing Emily’s business plans, all eyes are on the one person who left the scene with blood on her hands—the twins sharp-tongued mother, Maybelle. Determined to get her mom off the hook ASAP, Sarah must collect the ingredients of a deadly crime to bring the true culprit to justice. But as neighbors turn against her family, can she pare down the suspects before another victim lands on the chopping block?
Includes quick and easy recipes!
About Debra H. Goldstein
Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Two Bites Too Many, as well as One Taste Too Many, the first of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series. She also wrote Should HavePlayed Poker and IPPY Award-winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra serves on the national boards of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and is president of the Southeast Chapter of MWA and past president of SinC’s Guppy Chapter.