First Cut by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

First Cut is the first book in an exciting new series featuring Dr. Jessie Teska (don’t even ask what her first name really is!) She is brilliant, thorough and very flawed, exactly the type of character I love in books.

First Cut

Dr. Teska has newly arrived in San Francisco where a drug epidemic seems to be washing through the city. A new, highly volatile version of heroin has hit the streets causing overdoses among the most hardened users. Dr. Teska begins to see a pattern, however, in those who are ending up on her slab and the results of her investigation leads a little to close to home – the ME’s office!

The writing in First Cut is taut, precise and it is obvious the author knows her craft – Melinek is, or was, an ME. The computer stuff was a bit over my head but still easy to follow and actually quite fascinating. The characters were interesting and, while I didn’t like them all and some of them made me physically ill to imagine their existence in my world, they were exceptionally well written. I can’t wait for the next in this series!

The Turning – a collection by Henry James

Bwahahaha – horror is back and it is back with a vengeance! Welcome to The Turning….
The Turning

Growing up in the 70s, I cut my teeth reading Stephen King’s original books, you know, their first publication back in the day and when I couldn’t get more of King, I turned to the classics like Shelley’s Frankenstein, a love story (!), Shirley Jackson and Henry James. My favorite of all was Henry James and his terrifying short stories. Every now and again someone makes a movie about the Turn of the Screw and 2020 is apparently the year for major film producers to go all out trying to outdo one another. The Turning is a compilation of James’ short stories as a movie tie-in for the first 2020 release, The Turning, directed by Stephen Spielberg. It is a great, and horrifying re-grouping of James’ most noteworthy scary tales. If you love classic horror then this should be a must read for you! I loved having them collected all together. Yes, it is written in his original stilted Victorian prose but, for me, that just makes it all the better.

As a side note, the director who brought us The Haunting of Hill House also is creating a sequel based on James’ short stories called “The Haunting of Bly Manor.” You will want to read The Turning to be fully prepared for this spine=tingling, nerve-rattling sequel when it airs in a few months!

Recent Reads and Rapid Reviews

Recent and Rapid

Below are a few quick reviews of books I’ve read recently. First up is Cold Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty.

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The Cold Cold Ground is the first book of what has now become a series revolving around Detective Sean Duffy a Catholic cop in the middle of the protestant end of Ireland in the 1980s. Not a good place to stay alive so it’s a good thing they have Duffy, a sharp, educated “peeler” who is as tenacious as a bulldog. Duffy is a combination of Harry Bosch (in his younger days) and Harry Hole with his own brand of justice. I stayed up all night reading this one and I think you will enjoy it too. Now, I’m off to see if I can find the second in this series.

Thanks to Sandy at Sandy’s Book A Day Blog for her fabulous review(HERE) that inspired by search for this book.

LAST DAY by Luanne Rice

Luanne Rice is a master storyteller and that truly shines in her latest novel, Last Day, the story of four friends, two deaths and the secrets kept hidden to the end.

Sisters Kate and Beth had survived a tragic ordeal in their teen years but, like so many, that tragedy pushed them apart rather than pulling them together. Kate is closed off from all emotion and Beth has infused her life with love, giving to the community, loving her daughter and caring for her friends. When Beth is murdered, Kate digs in to find the answers to her sister’s murder. What she finds instead are layers of secrets.

While I was a bit disappointed in the ending, the overall story is brilliantly told. Last Day was my January selection for Amazon First Reads and will be available on February 1st.

THE PASSENGERS  by John Marrs

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I have been on a John Marrs kick for the last year. I’ve loved every single thing he has written. He’s different, his ideas are original, his writing is superb. However I was a bit disappointed with The Passengers. The story itself, self-driving cars which have been “hacked,” is one that actually terrifies me to think about. For reasons I never could put my finger on, though, the characters never resonated with me and I simply didn’t care who survived and who didn’t. Of course I will continue to read Marrs’ books in the future but The Passengers just fell a bit short.

Toni Morrison

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It is with great sadness that I mourn the passing of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, one of the greatest writers who ever lived. She was the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature and helped to define feminism for a generation. The earth weeps over its loss.

“As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.”
― Toni Morrison

A Stranger on the Beach #MicheleCampbell

A perfect summer read just hit the shelves today and it is one that you will not want to miss: A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell. 41150430Caroline literally has it all: a marvelous husband, a beautiful daughter and an amazing new beach house that has been transformed for exquisite entertaining, lavish parties and relaxing vacations on the beach. She also has a stranger who is very interested in her house. At first she is intrigued with him, when he shows up at her party as a bartender she is concerned by him, but when her life begins to disintegrate she turns to the stranger for comfort. But what if the stranger wants more?

Admittedly, I love Campbell’s writing and I knew going into this book that I was going to enjoy it – which I thoroughly did. Campbell’s characters also are layered, multi-dimensional versions of who you think they might be which enables her to keep you guessing throughout the story. Her plot, particularly in A Stranger on the Beach, never is quite you suspect it of being and just when you think you have the entire mystery solved, you discover that you were completely wrong. I’m not fan of plot twists for the sake of surprising the readers and that is not what Campbell does. She literally takes the reader into areas which the reader never thought to go and that makes her books very enjoyable and satisfying.

A Stranger on the Beach is not only a good summer read, it is a great mystery, thriller and suspense which I highly recommend.

Thank you to #Netgalley, @StMartinsPress, and @MicheleCampbell for my copy of @AStrangerOnTheBeach

They Call Me The Crazy Cat Lady @AmyMiller

Personal Note: I’m completely unsure who is still out there reading this but, for those who are, over the next week or so I’m going to be uploading reviews from all of the books that I listened to while I was “out.” I know it will be an overload and I apologize but I feel so badly for the authors and publishers who I’ve let down by not being able to post so please bear with me. Some of these books I realize most of you have already read but, hopefully, there will be some that still are new to you.

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When the kids were growing up we somehow manage to acquire more than our fair share of cats. Okay, truth be told, we had about 13 or more living in or around the house. We lived at the top of a mountain at the end of gravel road and it appeared to be the favorite dumping ground for those nefarious people who cruelly dumped cats. The kitties found a home with us and we all lived happily ever after – except my husband who thought we were crazy. I understand the “crazy cat lady” persona better than most and I wear the label proudly.

I assumed that this book by Amy Miller would be nothing more than good comedy or, at best, a Rom-Com. I couldn’t have been more wrong. They Call Me The Crazy Lady snuck up on me and grabbed me and did not let me go. It is an emotional, uplifting, hopeful book about letting go of the past, making changes and moving forward. I laughed, I cried and I was angry at times but in the end I was incredibly happy with the way everything worked out for everyone. The story is beautifully written, the characters charmingly created, and the cats wonderfully portrayed. I loved every single line of this tale. The book is gender neutral even though the word “lady” is in the title, it’s a delight for both sexes and all ages. I also found it to be a bit genre defying and would simply say that it’s well-done fiction. I highly recommend it!