Blunt Force Trauma by John Carson

Blunt Force Trauma by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum (Amazon Kindle)
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

When looking into the abyss, be careful of who’s looking back…

When the lifeless body of a psychiatrist is uncovered in the heart of Edinburgh, the responsibility of unraveling this murder falls upon DCI Harry McNeil and his dedicated team. This well-respected professional had maintained a thriving private practice, commanding deep respect within his field.
As they meticulously deconstruct the facets of the doctor’s existence, they unearth a disconcerting revelation – not everyone held the esteemed psychiatrist in such high esteem. However, as a veil of silence shrouds potential witnesses, Harry faces an uphill battle in his quest to unravel the mystery behind the doctor’s untimely demise. Will he ultimately piece together the puzzle and bring justice to the fallen doctor?

Meanwhile, DI Frank Miller returns to his job, only to find himself facing a grave accusation. He knows his life is in peril, with a relentless enemy determined to see him silenced. A single name holds the key to his salvation: a mysterious woman whose identity remains elusive. With time running out, Miller must uncover her identity or face a life on the run. Will he unearth the truth, or will he pay the ultimate price in his quest for redemption?

It’s hard to believe this is the twentieth DCI Harry McNeil book – and yet here we are. I’ve enjoyed this series for quite some time and was pleased with this new addition to the series. As would make sense with a series this long running, at least some of the previous books should have been read prior to this just so the reader can have an understanding of the many characters and how they all relate and work together. That said, even with just a few (and possibly most importantly the book previous to this – Now Or Never) need to be read for this story to be thoroughly enjoyed.

I’ve been really gripped by the plotline surrounding DI Frank Miller. He’s been through an excruciatingly bad rough patch and in many ways, I feel that this book neatly ties up many of his plot arc and helps readers feel like this might be a good place to finish the journey. Equally so with DCI Harry McNeil. I’ve felt for a while like his series might be getting ready for a finale and this book may prove to be a satisfying end. A number of the various plotlines that have been previously left loose were very neatly tied up in this book and the afterword made it appear that – for now at least – this might be the end of the series while the author focuses on a new series.

Readers who enjoy a strong police procedural – particularly one of Scottish flavour – might find this book and series as an excellent place to spend some time. I felt the plot to be well paced and interesting with a believable bad guy and plenty of action and conflict. I found this book to be a satisfying read and have enjoyed this series so far.

Hardback Homicide by S. E. Babin

Hardback Homicide by S. E. Babin
Publisher: S.E. Babin, Amazon Digital Services
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Contemporary
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

When a rare book order leads me right to a homicide, somehow I’m the one investigating…

I’m Dakota Adair, owner of Tattered Pages, a bookstore specializing in cool and quirky books. I inherited a grumpy Persian cat named Poppy who loves to make her displeasure known around the store … loudly. Things are good until I deliver a special order only to stumble over a body. Suddenly all eyes are on me. Now I have a handsome detective and an annoying reporter on my tail, hounding me about the case.

All I want to do is crack open my favorite paperback, grab a cup of coffee, and chill, but with a murderer out there and suspicion falling on me, I have to do a lot more than read. I have to find out whodunnit and quick before I become the next subject of a murder mystery…

Hardback Homicide is the 1st book in a series titled “Shelf Indulgence”. This was fun reading. Even the series name is fun. It had what I call all the “elements” of a cozy, a cute town name (Dewdrop Springs), an amateur sleuth, a handsome cop, a bookshop, books, a cat, and of course, a dead body.

I enjoyed this story, but the quirky characters of the town might be what clinched it. Dakota, the bookshop owner, and her assistant, Harper, sell books for all ages, but they also deal in rare books. This is where greed sets in, and it becomes awfully hard to tell who has their hands on the infamous book.

Lots of fun, easy reading, and good characters. What more can I say? I can say this series has 5 books so far, and I intend to read them all.

Hot Potato: The story of The Wiggles by Jeff Fatt, Directed by: Sally Aitken

Hot Potato: The story of The Wiggles by Jeff Fatt, Directed by: Sally Aitken
Publisher: Amazon MGM Studios and Screen Australia
Genre: Contemporary, Non-fiction, Documentary, Film
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Hot Potato is a backstage pass to the global phenomenon, The Wiggles. The documentary chronicles the story of three preschool teachers, Anthony, Murray and Greg, and their friend Jeff, as they triumph over the odds to become one of the most successful children’s acts of all time.

This is a film about my favorite group that had a positive influence on my kids as they were growing up. The movie explores the backstory, creation and history of The Wiggles, starring Anthony Field (blue), Murray Cook (red), Jeff Fatt (purple) and Greg Page (yellow). My kids discovered them when the group made the arrangement with the Disney Channel. Kids in Australia and New Zealand knew about them years before and it’s not a wonder that they took the rest of the world by storm. I learned so much about them while watching this documentary that it simply blew my mind. Their songs may have been simple, catchy, bouncy, and fun, but the four guys’ journey wasn’t nearly so benign, easy or without serious challenges.

My most favorite aspect of the film was the nostalgia triggered by the awesome songs I sang along to with my kids as they watched the shows and videos over and over again, Hot Potato being only one of many. The dance moves that accompanied them always made me feel that if they had an exercise video based on the songs and all the moves, I would have bought the video for myself. To this very day, I’ll break out in songs like Hot Potato, Fruit Salad, Here Comes a Bear, and the silly, Do the Monkey. Man, those were awesome times when my kids were little.

Did you know that at their highest point, they made more money than AC/DC, Hugh Jackman and many others? The Wiggles did that – all while appealing to the sense of joy, fun, and energy of toddlers, and bringing their parents along for the ride. And, what a ride it was, in that Big Red Car.

Even to this day, one of my most favorite video/movies The Wiggles made was with Steve Irwin at the Australia Zoo. At that point, I was just as much a fan of the group as my kids. The documentary showed the amazing steps Anthony, Murray, Jeff and Greg took to get to that moment in their careers. It covers the difficult times after the 9/11 attack in New York City and there were a few moments in their retelling that had me tearing up. The tone was somber, respectful, and introspective. The film also covers why Greg left The Wiggles. By the time that happened, my kids were fully immersed in their school career, and we no longer subscribed to the channel that brought The Wiggles singing and dancing into our lives. I had no idea about the seriousness of Greg’s condition, nor the challenges the group faced to find someone to step in for him. Nor did I have a clue as to what role Anthony played in The Wiggles existence as the years went on.

After I watched the documentary, I looked at some reviews. Wow – that was a revelation. The film shared some examples but that nowhere touched upon the emotional response and backlash that occurred during the many transitions The Wiggles went through. I even read one where the commenter claimed that Anthony ruined The Wiggles because of the changes and decisions he’d made over the years after two other members retired. After watching the film, I disagree with that sentiment. Anthony saved The Wiggles by keeping it going, keeping their name, music, and presence alive, not letting it fade away until the point in 2019 when they were all able to come together to do a benefit in support of the Australian people who were suffering the worst fire season in the country. Society and pop culture change frequently and what is popular one day becomes lost and forgotten the next. If not for Anthony, I don’t think the public would have responded so well and enthusiastically for a band no one remembered. Instead, according to the film clips I saw, many of the attendees were in their 20s, kids that grew up singing and dancing with The Wiggles and were now young adults, with jobs and incomes that allowed them to attend and support the cause. That joy came across the screen and brought me back in time when my kids and I had the best time singing the songs together.

Do you know what else I learned while watching this documentary? Anthony and Jeff were a part of a successful singing group called the Cockroaches. One of their songs was played during an interview with Greg and I’m thinking, “I’d listen to that!” In fact, if you pay attention, you’ll get a hint of the energy and talent that would later contribute to the success of The Wiggles. I also learned the background of Dorothy the Dinosaur. I had no hint how important that character ended up being to their success. I even laughed when I heard how Captain Feathersword came about. Little by little I was seeing how The Wiggles I knew came to be. It was so cool!

Another adorable thing I enjoyed while watching the film were the film clips. Parents must have submitted them to the group. They showed their toddlers reacting and interacting with The Wiggles on television and generally having a great time singing, learning and laughing. There is power in laughter and in music.

Hot Potato: The story of The Wiggles was one of the most enjoyable documentaries I’ve ever watched. How the group came to be such a success was fascinating to watch. To think, if not for two of them being teachers, and their passion and joy for teaching, which I believe contributed to the focus of singing songs for preschoolers, I don’t think The Wiggles could have come to be. Learning how Anthony, Jeff, Greg and Murray came together to create a singing group that touched generations starting with the littlest of fans, was a sheer joy to experience. I am awfully glad I discovered this film. I highly recommend this documentary for all those who were parents at the time who repeatedly watched the videos and sang the songs with their kids. I think it would be great for those littlest fans, now grown up, to learn more about the men and characters that enriched their childhood. It’s fascinating, entertaining and eye opening. This film made me appreciate The Wiggles all the more.

A Ghost Story by Mark Twain

A Ghost Story by Mark Twain
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Historical
Length: Short Story (30 pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

“A Ghost Story” is one of the best-known humorous stories by Mark Twain (pen-name of Samuel Clemens, 1865-1936). First published in 1870, it is set in Nineteenth-Century New York City.

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The world-building was phenomenal, and it happened for a character who spent the entire plot in an old, dusty bedroom of a house whose upper floors hadn’t been used in years! All of the descriptions of the home and the things that happened in were so vivid, though, that I could picture exactly what it would be like to stay there. I was pretty impressed by how the author was able to do this given the fact that there was only one setting for the entire storyline.

There aren’t a lot of characters out there who react sensibly when they realize that a ghost is haunting them. Luckily, one of these such individuals was the narrator of this tale. While he was definitely concerned about all of the scary noises he was hearing, he didn’t overreact. I liked reading about his thought processes as he attempted to figure out how to respond to his late-night visitor. He stayed as calm and logical as anyone could reasonably expect to under those circumstances, and that was refreshing.

Not only did the ending fit the tone of this book perfectly, it also made me laugh. I appreciated the narrator’s sense of humor even more once he realized what was actually making all of the frightening noises outside, and later inside, of his bedroom. Honestly, I didn’t want to stop reading his descriptions of what was going on. While I was satisfied with how everything was resolved in the end, I was also left yearning to know what happened next in a very positive sense.

I’d heartily recommend A Ghost Story to anyone who loves the paranormal genre.

The Royals of Monterra: Holiday with a Prince by Carolyn Rae

The Royals of Monterra: Holiday with a Prince by Carolyn Rae
Publisher: Amazon’s Kindle World
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (135 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Aspiring travel writer, Kelly Chandler’s heart beats faster when soccer star, Prince Mario of the Royals of Monterra negotiates plane seats for them after the gate closes. Clueless about sports, can she compete with the beauties he’s dated? After he takes her to tea with Queen Aria, she learns activists have been plotting to overthrow the monarchy. Later, they cause trouble for her and Prince Mario. He flies her to the pyramids and they narrowly escape an eruption on Mt. Etna. When his plane crashes in the mountains, they spend the night cuddling together in a cave. She realizes she loves him, but will his former lover win back his heart?

What happens when a down-to-earth Texan woman meets a prince? Holiday with a Prince is their story, one filled with exciting and escalating dilemmas, until the point where things get downright dangerous.

The protagonists and supporting characters show themselves to be likeable right away. Kelly is sensible. She and her friend meet a prince and famous soccer player while traveling to Paris, and they go on adventures. Readers are treated to insights into the life of such a celebrity, and they’ve got to like Kelly when she asserts herself when the prince is presumptuous. She’s not afraid to be honest with him. levitra without prescription It is thought to be amongst the speediest treatment to defeat the issue of erectile brokenness. This medicine is permitted cipla india viagra for the use of men. Obviously, the hairs are an inherent part of the human body and excessive shedding of it is worrying for anyone. viagra overnight Silagra is the generic replica of the branded that works exactly like the branded purchase levitra online check out these guys and treats the underlying cause of problem.
There are great descriptions of the fancy places and tourist attractions around Paris and other exotic places. Prince Mario acts a bit immature when Kelly critiques him, at first, but then he grows. Sometimes he’s very likeable, but at other times it’s questionable. A Friend of Mario’s warns Kelly about Mario. Should she listen? Should she be careful? He is a bit pushy.

However, his character growth has one rooting for him and Kelly to be together.

Some great tension is created when Kelly meets Mario’s mother and when they have a run-in with a volcano. There’s suspense built in when Mario’s friend acts in suspicious ways. Kelly shows exceptional personality traits. It’s hard not to respect her.

The secondary story weaves nicely around the main plot. Different types of suspense wrap around each other. Building complications keep the story moving. The action rises to an exciting crescendo. The challenge could make or break the relationship between the characters.

Kelly and Mario are faced with a very difficult decision that will keep them apart. One sees the real them come out when faced with unsavory people and their agendas.

Reading this story is a delight, an escapist story, and one I’d recommend for a quick, light read.

Peril in the Park: A Jamie Quinn Mystery by Barbara Venkataraman

Peril in the Park: A Jamie Quinn Mystery by Barbara Venkataraman
Publisher: Amazon
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (146 Pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

There’s big trouble in the park system. Someone is making life difficult for Jamie Quinn’s boyfriend, Kip Simons, the new director of Broward County parks. Was it the angry supervisor passed over for promotion? The disgruntled employee Kip recently fired? Or someone with a bigger ax to grind? If Jamie can’t figure it out soon, she may be looking for a new boyfriend because there’s a dead guy in the park and Kip has gone missing! With the help of her favorite P.I., Duke Broussard, Jamie must race the clock to find Kip before it’s too late.

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Jamie is very likeable. She does try to figure things out, but without the help of her P.I. friend, Duke Broussard, she’d really be in trouble. And she tends to panic under pressure, but wouldn’t we all. She is an easy character for the reader to like and identify with. I also liked Duke, and he brings a very different and helpful perspective to the mystery. He is right there to help when Kip goes missing and the clock is running out.

The mystery is well-paced and exciting. There were a number of possibilities for the bad guys, and I didn’t get all the pieces put together until the end. The suspense builds nicely and I didn’t want to stop reading until the end.

There were a few minor typos, and in one place, Jamie says she’s stopping for coffee on her way home when she is actually on her way to work. There are some side plot lines and the solution to one of them seemed a bit too pat and simplistic. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, and this wasn’t a huge issue, and maybe since Jamie had enough on her plate, one pat solution wasn’t all bad. However, a bit more complexity would have added to the novel.

Peril in the Park is a delightful cozy mystery, an enjoyable read, that I’m sure mystery lovers will enjoy. It is the third in the Jamie Quinn series and I hope there will be many more adventures with Jamie in the future.