Some books sit on your nightstand for weeks as you read a little bit each night. These are not those books.
Queen Anne’s Lace by Susan Wittig Albert
Queen Anne's Lace is the 26th entry in the China Bayles series. Albert's books are always good solid reads albeit formulaic (different words, same music). Like the others, Queen Anne’s Lace revolves around plants and herbs, and, oddly enough, Queen Anne’s lace. Who knew that Queen Anne’s lace is a relative of the carrot and can also be used as a contraceptive? Who knew how many different plants have been used through the ages for their contraceptive powers and as abortifacients? The history of these plants made the book truly fascinating to me. Mystery, chicken thieving, romance, and plants -- I give it 9 Kittehs.
Case of the Deadly Doppelganger by Lucy Banks
Kester Lanner honors his mother’s dying request, discovers his long lost father (Dr. Ribero), and joins the family business (catching supernatural spirits). This is the 2nd book in Dr Ribero's Agency of the Supernatural series and it provides Kester the opportunity to discover more about his hidden talents as well as to possibly meet a woman who will like him. (Kester is young, insecure, sheltered, and a bit on the dumpy side — not your typical chick magnet hero). A fun romp through a crumbling hotel that reminds everyone of the Timberline Lodge. From ghoulies and ghosties / And long-leggedy beasties / And things that go bump in the night — the Ribero’s Agency will protect us. Fun. 8 ½ Kittehs.
NIGHTWISE by R. S. Belcher
Urban Fantasy fiction takes place in a world that is pretty much recognizable as our own. Except for the wizards, witches, dragons, old gods, new gods, demons, angels…take your pick, there’s something for everyone. Nightwise is a gritty, sometimes pretty nasty, entry into the genre. The lead character is everyone’s anti-hero, easier to hate than love. There’s a whole underground world of mages and their helpers and slaves. If you don’t mind blood, guts and sex, it’s a pretty rip-roaring ride. 8 ½ Kittehs.
The Disappeared by C.J. Box
A typical Box book. Good solid writing, likeable characters, enough humor to keep dreariness away, and a fair amount of political commentary. You can always count on Joe Pickett to destroy at least one government owned vehicle. 8 kittehs.
Too Close to Breathe by Olivia Kiernan
Irish DCS Frankie Sheehan is called out on what appears to be the suicide by hanging of a noted scientist, Eleanor Costello. Things become much more complicated than that, with a serial killer, a bit of BDSM (not too terribly graphic), several more dead bodies, too many red herrings, a novel way of murder, and Frankie’s traumatic past. A decent police procedural with well-drawn characters, a plot more convoluted than necessary, and a confusing first few chapters. Worth pushing through the confusion, since once into it, you will want to find out “who dun it”. I’ll give it an 8 Kittehs.
Jack Rabbit Smile by Joe Lansdale
Hap and Leonard will weave their politically incorrect path into your heart. Murder, racism, computer hacking, religious zealots, strange people, and, always, some beautifully poetic writing. Hap and Leonard, a white dude and his gay black Republican friend, solve the crimes and find the missing people with irreverence, foul language, and philosophy. Not for the faint at heart or prudish. This, the 13th entry in the series, is excellent as always. 10 Kittehs.
Miss Julia Raises the Roof by Ann B. Ross
Miss Julia is a Southern woman in her twilight years. It’s hard to review this book without the context of the other books, the location, and Miss Julia’s time period. Everything happens in the now, but Miss Julia is from a previous generation, being in her late 70’s, I believe. If you start the series at the beginning you’ll see how Miss Julia has grown, from a very buttoned-down, proper southern belle, to a warmer more liberal, outgoing person. However, even in this, the 20th book in the series, she’s still a product of her time and place.
A proposal for a group home for at risk boys, in the middle of a quiet neighborhood fuels the narrative. Many of the people in the neighborhood are totally against it. Worried about noise, comings and goings, boys with evil thoughts in their heads about the young daughters on the block and so on. Miss Julia’s deceased husband’s love child lives with his mother and her husband next to the home, when he’s not at Miss Julia’s. (Miss Julia, Hazel Marie, and Lloyd are another story that would take too long to tell here.) Much ado entails. Eventually the red herring that is the group home is exposed, the bad people discovered, the good people learn some lessons, the boys get a home, Miss Julia learns new lessons and a happy ending is found.
I like the books but they aren’t for everyone. There is a certain amount of moral ambiguity because of place, beliefs, and tradition that can be off putting. I’m sure they’re considered cozies. No bad language or explicit sex, so safe for more conservative readers. 9 ½ Kittehs.
*Cat emoji images via freepik
Another month, another cat pic: this one features BT Cooper and his little brother, Mini Cooper, doing some synchronized sitting.
Mindy works at the Little Turtle branch. She's a cat lady, an avid reader, and an old boomer.