Category Archives: reviews

More Good Books You’ll Like

My idea of an ideal day is nice weather for porch sitting and reading an excellent book. That said, I’ve had some good reading days. Not all the books I read are exceptional and I can’t list all my favorites on one page, but I’ve listed a few good ones here for you to think about when you’re out of something good to read.

bookPsychophilia: A Novel: A Disturbing Psychological Thriller by Michelle Muckley

Wow! Just wow! When I began reading this I had a hard time getting acclimated. When I was finally there, I ran with it. This poor, poor lady is delusional. Or is she? She keeps repeating things. She couldn’t seem to remember the most simple things, like her accident on the lake. Everyone else thinks she’s crazy, so she must be, right? I couldn’t tell until the end what was wrong with her. This writer got me. I really didn’t see it coming.  This was j
just as good as anything by Gillian Flynn. Wow!

book2Broken Harbor by Tana French

I have loved all of Tana French’s books. This was no exception. I loved the first person point of view. I thought it was handled well and I had no trouble picturing the action. The story moves quickly from the start when the bodies are discovered, and then throughout the interviews with the doubts this detective has. The sadness about the children was done well. I didn’t like that I knew about mid-way through who had done it. I wasn’t disappointed, however, at the twists that happen near the end. I did love how the characters are so well-developed it hardly feels like a first person narrative, which I often find irritating in fiction.

23783496In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

This was an interesting premise. The entire hen party (like a bachlorette bash for the bride to be) was to take place in the middle of the woods in a glass house with no curtains and lots of snow. It was like a “closed” room murder mystery. Who could have done it?? Who else was there? The person whose POV the story is in, wakes up in the hospital with little or no memory of what happened. I really didn’t know who done it until almost the end. The author kept me guessing and I liked that. Recommended.

Author Highlight: A New Novel by Award-Winning author Pamela Fagan Hutchins

pamela jan 2016 portrait

Big-haired paralegal and former rodeo queen Emily has her life back on track. Her adoption of Betsy seems like a done deal, her parents have reunited, and she’s engaged to her sexy boss Jack. Then client Phil Escalante’s childhood buddy Dennis drops dead, face first into a cake at the adult novelty store Phil owns with his fiancée Nadine, one of Emily’s best friends. The cops charge Phil with murder right on the heels of his acquittal in a trial for burglarizing the Mighty is His Word church offices. Emily’s nemesis ADA Melinda Stafford claims a witness overheard Phil fighting with Dennis over a woman. Before he can mount a defense, Phil falls into a diabetic coma, leaving Nadine shaken and terrified. Meanwhile Betsy’s ultra-religious foster parents apply to adopt her, and Jack starts acting weird and evasive. Emily feels like a calf out of a chute, pulled between the ropes of the header and the heeler, as she fights to help Phil and Nadine without losing Betsy and Jack.

I really go for books with a lot of action and I wasn’t disappointed by Hell to Pay. It could be read as the 3rd in the series starring Emily, but it works as a stand alone also. I recommend it!

Author Bio:
Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes overly long emails, the best-selling, award-winning What Doesn’t Kill You romantic mystery series (WINNER USA Best Book Award, Fiction: Cross Genre) and hilarious nonfiction. She is a recovering attorney and investigator who resides deep in the heart of S/Nowheresville, WY and TX with her household hunks—husband Eric, one-eyed Boston terrier Petey, and house goat Peyton Manning. Pamela has a passion for great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as taking long walks, experimenting with her Keurig, and traveling in the Bookmobile.  Follow Pamela at and get her exclusive free e-book Puppalicious and Beyond. Visit her at (where you can discover which of her novels she’s currently offering for free download) or drop her a note pamela at pamelafaganhutchins dot com. And if you would like her to visit your book club, women’s group, writer’s group, or library, all you have to do is ask.

A Good Book: Never Say I Can’t by Philip Catshill

Philip Catshill was a young police officer in Britain until one day he woke up staring at a crack in the bathroom ceiling.
Told with a forthright yet sensitive tone, this novel opened up my eyes to what it is like for a person to experience a major stroke. The author survived a major stroke at the age of 30 and was eventually able to write about it in this novel about that eighteen month time period. He was determined to get back to the police service. He worked hard to talk, to walk, and to get the use of his limbs back, only to be taunted by the other stroke victims in the rehabilitation unit who said, “You haven’t had a proper stroke” once he was out of bed.
The loss of words, the way people react to a person with a disability, the struggle against prejudice from people who have had stroke, too, are heartbreaking reminders to be mindful of others. Philip Catshill’s novel is well-written. I highly recommend his novels to everyone.

Free is Always Good

What are you looking at?

Hello all,

It’s officially spring. I thought you would like a baby photo. This is the grand girl when she was the age her baby brother is now. They look so alike. I will post his when I have one.

I wanted to tell you all that my book The Dry now has a free teacher guide to go with it. It is excellent. It contains all the important things a fifth to seventh grade teacher would need for her class after reading the book. It is FREE on the home page just under the photo of the book.

Have a lovely week. It’s sunny here with lots of flowers blooming at the moment. We had such a hard rain, with hail, a few days ago that it knocked all the flowers off the azaleas.

Happy Spring!!

Book Review: Pennies From Burger Heaven by Mary McKay

I love this review of a favorite book of mine!!!


Available at Amazon .com

Title: Pennies from Burger Heaven

Author: Marcy McKay

Genre :  Literary Suspense

Publication Date: December 18, 2015

Rating: 4 Stars= Great Page Turner

Marcy McKay takes readers on an incredible journey with a little girl trying to survive.  Copper Daniels is a homeless young girl searching for her mother. She learns to maneuver her way through the streets of Texas, dodging danger and staying hidden from authorities.

Copper is continuously running for her life while barely being able to feed herself. I loved her strength and faith that she and her mother would be able to get out of Texas. Copper finds out many unhealthy things about her mother’s activities, but she never turns her back away, continuing her search. This little one was very determined and her love for her mother will not let her give up, which pulled at my…

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A brief word about dogs: A Review of Stephanie Jaye Evans’ books

51MLA5fnRbL._AA160_When I read Faithful Until Death by Stephanie Jaye Evans I loved the story for several reasons. First, it is set in Sugar Land, Texas. Yes, Sugar Land, two words. As a resident of Sugar Land for more than twenty years, I could locate all the places mentioned in the story, but I could also relate well to the type of people who live in the various neighborhoods, and to Bear Wells, the humble, kind-hearted gentle giant of a Church of Christ preacher. I lived there. I don’t live there now. The book rang true. All the way.  It could happen,  finding a body on the golf course during a morning jog. It could, surprised it hasn’t. Secondly, there was a Newfoundland dog. I’ve always wanted a Newfie. So I wrote one in my book, Deadly Thyme. They are great dogs – great as in huge, and great as in dogs who love humans and other animals. If you have a 180 pound dog, that’s a good thing.

This week I finished reading Safe From Harm and I loved that preacher Bear Wells is having trouble with his teenage daughter again. Only this time, she is trying to figure out what happened to her friend, who wasn’t a friend. She insists it was not suicide. But every time she attempts to find out more, she ends up looking down the barrel of a gun, with her father watching in horror, not knowing how to prevent his daughter’s death. It’s so well written. Truly. I recommend this author’s books. She’s so good. There was so much humor. I loved the pugs. I take that back. I adored the pugs. And I was truly surprised to find out who the killer was.

Missing Cats, and Best Sellers

comfortable-catHere I am. Me. Fallible. Ready to disappoint. It’s Friday February 5, 2016 (can you believe time has flown so quickly?) and I have decided that my YA novel, which is in the second draft stage is just toooo darn boring. Well, okay, I realize it’s just me saying that, but it is now on my proverbial shelf, being thought about but not worked on. I think of that shelf as the back burner of my stove, the one with the various degrees of “simmer” which may mean that spaghetti sauce could sit there all day getting better by the minute. Thing is I need to put conflict on every page as my friend Roger Paulding always says in critique group. He is so correct. Conflict on every page moves the reader to turn the pages. If there is no conflict the reader is just going to fall asleep. My YA has no conflict in it, or at least not enough to keep every reader involved. So say goodbye to the YA novel I’ve been working on for two years, and say HELLO to a new murder mystery set in London with Jon Graham as the hero. It’s true. I think it’s going to be a winner. And I don’t mean that in a Donald way. I mean, if you liked Deadly Thyme I think you might like the one I am now writing set just before Jon Graham goes to Cornwall.

But back to being a winner. You see, Deadly Thyme is a winner. I say that because for all of three nano-seconds in January, I was a true BEST-seller. I was #1 in mystery, thriller, detective series and in several other categories. I was so thrilled I think I couldn’t see straight. Yes, I may have actually made a bit of money there. And if the world’s idea of success is making money, then I won in the world’s opinion of best-selling author. Plus, I paid a few bills, or at least I will when the royalties hit the bank sometime in the next four weeks.

Most people don’t realize, and when I say most people I include myself here, because I never thought about what kind of money authors made before trying to become an author. I just figured authors made a lot of money. Best-seller doesn’t always translate into what you and I would consider rich. Last year I went in the hole only $665.00. That’s pretty fantastic! The year before my debt was over $3,000. That’s what I spent getting my books out in front of you versus what I made selling said books. But this whole book idea/plan needs further expose. Let me break it down for you in a super simplified way because I am a super simplified-thinking person. I put Deadly Thyme on sale for .99 for the month of January 2016. Bookbub, bless their hearts, accepted me into their daily deal campaign. I sold three thousand Deadly Thyme ebooks on Kindle alone in one day. For the month of January, between all the various e-book outlets I sold over 6 thousand ebooks at .99. On Kindle I made 35% of that .99. Amazon made the rest. I am not complaining. A penny is still a penny to me, as old-fashioned as that sounds, and 29 cents is still a lot times three thousand. Compare that to what happens when a traditionally published big-name author sells their e-book for $14.99 on Amazon. Check this out! The publisher makes 15%, the author’s agent makes 15%, and because it isn’t in the price range of 2.99 to 9.99 with Amazon (that’s the 70% profit range) the profit is only registering at 35%, Amazon is making the rest. The author is taking home 35% of that $14.99, less 15% less 15%. Oh bother, as Winnie-the-Pooh would say.

Deadly Haste. There, I’ve said the title of my new effort. I even found the most gorgeous Byron quote for it. “Now hatred is by far the longest pleasure; men love in haste, but they detest at leisure.” So apropos. Don’t be mad. I love really cool classical quotes. Morris would be pleased. My setting is Harrow a northwest borough of London. And there are missing cats involved here.

Full disclosure. This is a preliminary draft and I realize that as time goes by what I love won’t always get to “stick” because, though I love it, the “thing” no matter what it is doesn’t always move the plot forward. I am all about story. I want you, my precious readers, to enjoy my story. If my little beloved “thing” — like missing cats, doesn’t move the story forward it’s going to be kicked outside into the snow.

I know, it makes me sad, too.

So this is the news from my end. I hope you all are enjoying a little quiet and comfort wherever you are. Stay warm. It is cold out there.

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon: A Review

27793667After I finished reading Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon, I sat stunned from some time absorbing the feelings I had about the story. There aren’t many stories that I can say that about. You may even say this story left me breathless.

The story begins with a series of flashbacks from a then, fifteen-year-old Amy Stevenson. Then flash forward about fifteen years to more present day and the reporter who is trying desperately to get her life back after a series of disasters and struggles with addiction. Alex Dale, the reporter, is a believable and sympathetic character. Alex is the same age as Amy who is now what we might consider a vegetable because of a brutal attack that left her in that condition when she was fifteen.

As the story unfolds we jump from Alex’s increasingly fragile existence to the POV of Amy who flashes through “wake” and “sleep” periods as do some “vegetative” patients. The suspense builds as we readers try to figure out who did it and why we need to worry that whoever did it is about to do something equally horrifying. There are many layers and folds as this story pivots and twists into what it becomes – a complex story with believable characters who left me rooting for them.

I won’t ruin the story for you by telling any more than that but just know this – if you are privileged to get this book as soon as it comes out, do so. You won’t regret it.

I was fortunate to receive the book from Net galley for a fair and honest review.

Five Big Stars for a lovely engaging read.

Tumbled Graves by Brenda Chapman: A book review

cover72279-mediumI’m fortunate to be able to get books before they are published through Netgalley. Tumbled Graves by Brenda Chapman is one of those books.

The novel has a creepy beginning that pulls the reader in: Catherine Lockhart is a neighbor of Adele Delaney’s. She and her son go to Adele’s house to find out why Adele and her daughter didn’t turn up at a scheduled play date for their children. She finds the house’s front door open, the breakfast on the table uneaten, Adele’s purse and keys and car are still at the house. Catherine calls the police. The police search and don’t find Adele or her child. They do find the child’s coat and shoes strewn haphazardly in the woods behind their house, along the path that leads to the half-frozen river.

The author expertly takes the reader through the search experience using different points of view, first Catherine’s, then the police investigators, Paul Gundersund’s and Kala Stonechild’s. The characters don’t leap off the page, but do, over time, become likable. Each of the lead investigators have believable flaws, Gundersund – a soon-to-be-ex-wife who is also the chief medical examiner, and Stonechild has a past she would rather not talk about or have anyone find out about.

Every time the reader thinks the story is going in a certain direction there is a twist. I will not disclose these as they are good for the shock value. Each one is believable and leads to the story turning on it’s “head” and going in a different direction. The ending is certainly not predictable at all. There are things the reader is privy to and the detectives are not, but then there are things the reader can not imagine and must discover just as the detectives do.

I give the story 4 out of 5 solid stars. Recommended for people who love mysteries and suspense set in Canada.

Thirteen Reasons Why: A Book Review

Jay Asher has created a masterpiece of writing with his novel Thirteen Reasons Why, a Young Adult novel about a girl who has recorded thirteen things that may or may not have led to her suicide.

41zlOSzTsuL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_[1]Young Clay, one of the recipients of her recorded tapes is torn between guilt over something he may have done, and horror that he may not have done enough. His very “teen” voice sounds so authentic it’s hard to believe that Mr. Asher did not follow some teen boys around with his own tape recorder.

Really. I am so impressed.

This book deserves its international best-seller status. It speaks not only to angst-torn teens but to those who genuinely have contemplated or are contemplating suicide. But it isn’t a “how-to” book, or a cautionary tale. It is a beautifully crafted tale of sorrow from a girl who believed she would never ever have a good reputation again, despite the fact that she had done nothing. Nothing. Every human on the planet who has experienced being wrongfully accused would empathize with and appreciate the main character Hannah Baker. The cautionary message is this:  “Be Kind-everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”