31 Days of CeeCee-o-Ween: Head Full of Ghosts on Sale for $1.99!

Horror fans, eat your cold, black hearts out! The scariest book I’ve ever read (sorry, Stephen King and Joe Hill) is on sale for two buckeroos! I PROMISE YOU, this book will make those tiny hairs on the back of your neck stand at attention! So get on the Amazon or the Nook Shop and download this book today!

Synopsis: Two sisters battle sinister forces in a slow-burning tale of demonic possession. It’s up to the readers’ to determine whether or not this is Satan’s work or a toxic concoction of teenage hormones and schizophrenia. Essentially Turn of the Screw meets The Exorcist.

Why it gave me the creeps: There is nothing more unsettling than the thought of living under the same roof with someone who may or may not be possessed by demonic forces. However, I did have some doubts about my sister from time to time. Kidding! Well…sort of. Head Full of Ghosts got under my skin because it seemed so real. I could totally relate to the dysfunctional, blue-collar household because I lived in one. I could especially connect with the two bickering sisters. I remember scaring my poor sister silly with my “demon voice” at night when we were forced to share the same room. To be honest, I even scared myself! Could you imagine the horror of hearing that voice, knowing that your sister really could be possessed by the devil?

Jeepers!! I’m giving myself the willies just thinking about that book…and how it all came to a head in the end. Don’t worry! I won’t tell you what happens, but I will say that it’s the scariest—and most satisfying—ending. The genius of Tremblay’s storytelling is that he doesn’t spell it out for you. It’s up to the reader to pick up on the subtle clues and draw their own conclusion at the end. Like Mulder, I want to believe. Judging by the little hints—and one big nudge at the end—I’m pretty sure Tremplay gave me what I wanted.

Overall: A dark and twisted masterpiece pulled off by a relatively unknown writer. When it comes to the uncanny, Paul Tremblay is the master!

Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

You know, I really don’t care for home invasion horror movies/books because that shit is way too scary–and not in a good way. Next to being eaten alive by a Great White (or my newest nightmare, a Megalodon), home-invasion is at the top of my greatest fears list. That said, I didn’t even think twice about reading this book because it’s penned by Paul Tremblay, the one contemporary horror author who knows exactly how to hit that sweet spot of terror! Read my review of Head Full of Ghosts and you’ll see what I mean.

Also, Stephen King talked me into it.

“A tremendous book―thought-provoking and terrifying, with tension that winds up like a chain. The Cabin at the End of the World is Tremblay’s personal best. It’s that good.” — Stephen King

So let’s talk about this winding chain of tension. I had to tear through this thing in a matter of hours because it just got weirder and weirder and I just needed to know where it was all going!  It’s like driving down a mountain with no breaks. I’m hit with so many blind corners, but if I keep a death grip on the steering wheel maybe I’ll reach the bottom where it’s safe and everything will be OK!

Like his previous books, horrible forces envelop a hapless all-American dysfunctional family. In this story, the family–comprised of a gay scholarly couple and their adopted daughter–is more functional than others.  Everything’s going great on their family vacation out in the woods…away from anyone who could hear them scream. The terror begins when a hulking stranger approaches the daughter while she’s out in the field experimenting with grasshoppers. Right from the get-go, his overly friendly demeaner seems just a tad off-putting. And just when the girl senses the red flags, more of his friends come out of the shadows–and they’re all brandishing homemade medieval weapons. He assures her that they aren’t going to hurt her, but that her family will have to make some very difficult decisions. Let the games begin!

What I thought would pan out like one of those cat-and mouse Purge movies, ended up being much more terrifying.  It’s what I consider to be a “chose your own adventure” story that leaves it up to the readers to decide if supernatural forces are at work or if these home-invaders are just a bunch of doomsday nutjobs.  I tell you what, after learning about the characters’ backstories and how they all found each other, I’m leaning toward the supernatural. But one never knows.

I’d love to go more into detail about the horrific happenings in that cabin, but I don’t want to reveal any spoilers. And if you want to jump on this rollercoaster ride, I suggest you go into it blind. Another piece of advice: Do not listen to this on audio because this is a story you’ll want to zip through at warp speed. There are some frustrating spots when the author interjects a suspenseful scene with a flashback to a character’s backstory. I’m a big fan of character development, but less is more when I’m glued to the pages, dying to see what happens with this alleged apocalyptic scenario!

Aside from that minor gripe, I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys suspense stories that end with a “What the hell just happened?” twist. The genius in Tremblay’s writing is that he doesn’t spell everything out to his readers. It’s up to us to ferret out the symbols and clues and tie them all together. To be honest, I still don’t have a solid theory about what went down. Maybe that’s the point. Not everything on this planet–or beyond–can be figured out and tied together in a neat little bow.

The Horror! Two Unsettling Reads for a Hot Summer’s Night

23019294I’m proud to say that I got my greedy paws on this book before it hit the shelves! This is the first time I ever tracked down the author to ask beg for an advance copy. You see, his most recent book Head Full of Ghosts was the scariest thing I’ve ever read. That’s saying a lot because I devour all things horror. Sorry, Stephen King, but this book even trumps The Shining and Salem’s Lot. I never thought there would come a day when I would say such a blasphemous thing!

This is not hyperbole. Even The King said it himself:
“A Head Full of Ghosts scared the living hell out of me, and I’m pretty hard to scare.” (Stephen King)

So you get the picture, right? I’m a Paul Tremblay fan girl. I’ll get to Disappearance at Devil’s Rock in a moment, but let me just give you some backgrounder on Head Full of Ghosts. That book scared the I-don’t-know-what out of me! It’s like the author knows that I’m a jaded horror movie/book junkie. He knew just how to hit that sweet spot—that part of me that is scared to pieces of the unknown, the uncanny, the dark forces that drift between this world and the great beyond.

There is nothing more unsettling than the thought of living under the same roof with someone who may or may not be possessed by demonic forces. However, I did have some doubts about my sister from time to time. Kidding! Well…sort of. Head Full of Ghosts got under my skin because it seemed so real. I could totally relate to the dysfunctional, blue-collar household because I lived in one. I could especially connect wit the two bickering sisters. I remember scaring my poor sister silly with my “demon voice” at night when we were forced to share the same room. To be honest, I even scared myself! Could you imagine the horror of hearing that voice, knowing that your sister really could be possessed by the devil?

Jeepers!! I’m giving myself the willies just thinking about that book…and how it all came to a head in the 27064358end. Don’t worry! I won’t tell you what happens, but I will say that it’s the scariest—and most satisfying—ending. The genius of Tremblay’s storytelling is that he doesn’t spell it out for you. It’s up to the reader to pick up on the subtle clues and draw their own conclusion at the end. Like Mulder, I want to believe. Judging by the little hints—and one big nudge at the end—I got exactly what I wanted.

Now let’s get to Devil’s Rock, shall we? This book follows on the heels of THE SCARIEST BOOK EVER so I lowered the bar just a tad. That proved to be unnecessary. Though it’s an entirely different story, the same dark undercurrents course through the chapters, drawing questions about the possibility of demonic possession vs. mental illness. I have my own theory about what happened when Tommy met his fate at Devil’s Rock. I’m sure the Scullys of the world will draw their own rational conclusions. However, thanks to the final teaser in the very last chapter, I’m willing to bet my entire collection of Stephen King books that evil forces were at work.

It’s really hard to review this book without revealing any spoilers, but I will say that it is an addictive read that’s riddled with elements of the uncanny. I’ve always been creeped out by the idea of the doppelgänger. How creepy would it be to see an exact replica of yourself running around at night? Tremblay took this concept to a very dark place and I’m getting the pricklies just thinking about it!

Oh how I wish I could tell you more about the sequence of events, which are gradually unveiled through the pages of Tommy’s journal. What really happened the night he disappeared? Why does it seem that his friends are all hiding a deep-dark secret? Who or what is lurking outside in the shadows and leaving pages of Tommy’s diary on the living room floor? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

I’ll stop right here before I give anything away. Just please read this book and share your thoughts with me. I would love to compare theories! I’m still pondering the meaning behind the phrase, “The Devil’s in the Coincidence,” and whether or not life is just one big connect-the-dots puzzle.

In the meantime, I’m going to pick up a light and fluffy cozy mystery to balance things out a bit. Then I’ll embark on a book that reviewers have been comparing to Tremblay’s work: House of Leaves.

Books I’ve Read

Books I’ve Read in 2020


Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Toll by Cherie Priest
The Dog I Loved by Susan Wilson

Books I’ve Read in 2019

Repair to her Grave by Sarah Graves
Apple Cider Slaying by Julie Ann Lindsey
The Awakening by Jana DeLeon
A Merry Murder by Kate Kingsbury
Six Cats A Slayin’ by Miranda James 


The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen
Unfinished Business by Roxanne Hensley
Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb
Creepover: There’s Something Out There by PJ Night


The Howling Ghost by Christopher Pike
Camp Red Moon by RL Stine
Nathaniel by John Saul
Woof at the Door by Laura Morrigan


Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
Kitty Confidential by Molly Fitz


Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell
Making it Rain in Texas by Russ Hall
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Closed for the Season by Mary Downing Hahn
New People by Danzy Senna


Lone Star Cafe by Lisa Wingate
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Even Tree Nymphs Get the Blues by Molly Harper
Live and Let Chai by Bree Baker


A Killing by the Sea by Kathleen Bridge Live and Let Chai
Spells and Scones by Bailey Cates
Breaking for Bodies by Duffy Brown
Summer Days and Summer Nights by multiple YA authors


Murder with a Cherry on Top by Cynthia Baxter
The Awakening by James S. Murray and Darren Wearmouth
The Ghost of Grey Fox Inn by Carolyn Keene
Ruff vs. Fluff: A Queenie and Arthur Novel by Spencer Quinn
Pet Sematary by Stephen King


The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Maio
Two Good Dogs by Susan Wilson
House of Salt and Sorrow by Erin Craig
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
Stories of the Night by JT Ellison
Killing Trail by Margaret Mizushima


Louisiana Longshot by Jana Deleon
It Starts with a Kiss by Russ Hall
Buried in a Bog by Sheila Connolly
Painted Ladies by Sylvia Dickey Smith
Hooked on Ewe by Hannah Reed
Dead Ends by JT Ellison
A Little Night Magic by Lucy March


The World Breaks Everyone by Lauren Clark
My Life Among the Underdogs by Tia Torres
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
Wish by Barbara O’Connor


The House with the Clock in the Walls by John Bellairs
Fatal Frost by Karen Maclnerney
Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower
The Haunting on Heliotrope Lane by Carolyn Keene
The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn

Books I’ve Read in 2018


A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Mathews
A Gift of Bones by Carolyn Haines
Mistletoe Murder by Robin Stevens
In Peppermint Peril by Joy Avon
Manhattans and Murder by JB Fletcher and Donald Bain
Yuletide Homicide by Jennifer David Hesse
Amid the Winter’s Snow by Tasha Alexander
A Nancy Drew Christmas by Carolyn Keene


The Retreat by Mark Edwards
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
The Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy Webb
A Mid Winter’s Tale by Bethany Blake


Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco
Candy Corn Murder by Leslie Meier
The Mystery of Hollow Inn by Tara Ellis
Wake the Hollow by Gaby Triana
Gallows Hill by Lois Duncan
Scream and Scream Again edited by RL Stine


Life Without Ed by Jenni Schaefer Thom Rutledge
The Strawberry Hearts Diner by Carolyn Brown
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Black Cat Crossing by Kay Finch
Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan


The Outsider by Stephen King
The Sometimes Sisters by Carolyn Brown
The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters
The Sign in the Smoke: Nancy Drew Diaries by Carolyn Keene
Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian
10 % Happier by Dan Harris
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman


We Have All Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Trembley
Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn
Rockets Dead Glare by Lynn Cahoon
Killer Green Tomatoes by Lynn Cahoon
Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron


Margaritas and Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain
Murder Walks the Plank by Carolyn Hart
Summerlost by Allie Condie
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray


Murder at the 42nd Street Library by Con Lehane
Kill Creek by Scott Thomas
Tales from Beyond the Pale by multiple authors
Haunted in Hollywood by Loey Land and JA Kazimer
Widow’s Point by Billy Chizmar
The Secret Book and Scone Society by Ellery Adams
Over the Moon at Big Lizard Diner by Lisa Wingate


The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Sympathy and Sweet Tea by Molly Harper
Heart of Evil by Heather Graham
Written Off by EJ Copperman
By Book or by Crook by Eva Gates
The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon
The Ritual by Adam Nevill


Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosely
Murder in an Irish Village by Carlene O’Conner
Haunted Nights: A Horror Writers Association Anthology
Off Kilter By Hannah Reed


A High-End Finish by Kate Carlisle
Single Malt Murder by Melinda Mullet
Full Wolf Moon by Lincoln Child
The Right Side by Spencer Quinn


Final Girls by Riley Sager
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
A Gala Event by Sheila Conolly

Books I’ve Read in 2017


All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry
Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett
The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
The Mistletoe Inn by Richard Paul Evans
Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost
The Silent Night by Tasha Alexander
Upon a Ghostly Yule by Amanda DeWees
Death, Taxes and Mistletoe Mayhem by Diane Kelly
Gather Round the Sound by misc. authors|
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
With This Curse by Amanda DeWees


There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
House of Furies by Madeleine Roux
Midnight on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Fatal Feast by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain


Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James
Site Unseen by Dana Cameron
How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather


Fangoria’s Dreadtime (multiple authors)
The 5-Second Rule by Mel Robbins
It by Stephen King


Murder She Wrote: Rum and Razors by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain
Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower
A Dark and Stormy Murder by Julia Buckley
Midnight Jewel: The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead
Black Beauty: An Audible Original Drama by Anna Sewell, R.D. Carstairs-adaptation
Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar


Perennials: A Novel by Mandy Berman
Murder Most Howl by Krista Davis
Somebody I used to Know by David Bell
Peaches and Scream by Susan Furlong
Summer in the South by Cathy Holton
Ghost of a Chance by E.J. Copperman


A Familiar Tail: Witch’s Cat Mystery Series by Delia James
A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane


Pouncing on Murder by Laurie Cass
Yes, Please by Amy Pohler
Arrowood by Laura McHugh
Missing on Superstition Mountain by Elise Broach


The Diviners by Libba Bray
Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Title Wave by Lorna Barrett
All by Myself, Alone by Mary Higgins Clark
Before He Finds Her by Michael Kardos


Woman in Cabin Ten by Ruth Ware
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting


A Gilded Grave by Shelley Freydont
Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandell
The Dime by Kathleen Kent
Arf by Spencer Quinn
Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything by Nancy Martin


Death by Chocolate Lab by Bethany Blake
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Mainscalco & James Patterson
The Restorer by Amanda Stevens
The Long Lankin by Lindsay Barraclough

Books I’ve Read in 2016


Mrs. Jeffries and the Merry Gentlemen by Emily Brightwell
The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt
Rest Ye Murdered Gentleman by Vicki Delany
Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke
Certain Dark Things by M.J. Pack
Mistletoe and Murder by Carola Dunn
Santa 365 by Spencer Quinn


And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich
Ghost Gifts by Laura Spinella


Beewitched by Hannah Reed
Severed by Dax Varley
The Secret of Sleepy Hollow by Andi Marquette
Summer of Night by Dan Simmons
Sleepy Hollow: General of the Dead by Richard Gleaves


The Ghost and Mrs. Fletcher by Donald Bain and J.B. Fletcher
Cicada Summer by Andrea Beaty
The Diet Trap Solution by Judith Beck and Debra Beck Busis
Summer of Night by Dan Simmons
Beewitched by Hannah Reed
Murder at the Mansion by Janet Finsilver


Catch Rider by Jennifer Lyne
The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb
Silent Harmony by Michele Scott
The Walls around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool


The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Tumbling by Caela Carter


Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay
Heaven to Betsy by Pamela Fagan Hutchins
The Grand Hotel by Scott Kenemore
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie
The All-Girl’s Filling Station Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg

Mary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan
Sister Dear by Laura McNeil
Murder She Wrote: Death of  Blueblood by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain
Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez


The Hand that Feeds You by A.J. Rich
Thirteen Days of Midnight by Leo Hunt
Malice at the Palace by Rhys Bowen
Black Eye Susans by Julia Heaberlin
The Bargaining by Carly Ann West


A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
Bad Country by CB McKenzie
Diet Cults by Matt Fitzgerald
Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Buzz Kill by Beth Fantaskey
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Seth Grahamey-Smith
If Walls Could Talk by Juiliet Blackwell
Claws for Alarm by TC LoTempio
Scents and Sensibility by Spencer Quinn

Books I’ve Read in 2015


A Christmas Bride by Jo Ann Ferguson
Flawed Dogs by Berkeley Breathed
Woof by Spencer Quinn
Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue by Victoria Thompson
Away in a Manger by Rhys Bowen
Heartland Super Special: A Holiday Memory by Lauren Brooke
Star of the East by Tasha Alexander
A Christmas Hope by Anne Perry


Covenant of the Vampire by Jeanne Kalogridis
The Legend of Sleepy Harlow by Kylie Logan
Star of the East by Tasha Alexander
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
Grave Apparel by Ellen Byerrum


Stirring the Plot by Daryl Wood Gerber
Sleepy Hollow: Bridge of Bones by Richard Gleaves
The Haunting of Maddie Claire by Simone St. James
I am Haunted by Zach Bagans


Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper
Nightmares Can be Murder by Mary Kennedy
Woman in Black by Susan Hill
The Silence of the Ghosts by Jonathan Aycliffe
Naomi’s Room by Jonathan Aycliffe
Rise Headless and Rise by Richard Gleaves


Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron
Bone to be Wild by Carolyn Haines
Nantucket Sisters by Nancy Thayer
Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge


Center of Gravity by Laura McNeill
If You’ve Got it, Haunt it by Rose Pressey
Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Ghostly Paws by Leighann Dobbs


Caught Dead Handed by Carol J Perry
Walk Me Home by Catharine Ryan Hyde
Neighing with Fire by Kathryn O’Sullivan
Dead White and Blue by Carolyn Hart


Real Murders: Aurora Teagarden Mystery No. 1 by Charlaine Harris
I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me by Jerold J. Kreisman
Trucker Ghost Stories by Annie Wilder
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Sound and the Furry: Chet and Bernie Mystery No. 6 by Spencer Quinn


Outlander by Diana Galbadon
Dog Crazy by Meg Donahue
This Voice in My Heart by Gilbert Tuhabonye and Gary Brozek
Masked Ball at Broxley Manor by Rhys Bowen


The Source by J.D. Horn
A Nip of Murder by Carol Miller
Frostbite by Richelle Meade
Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn Dingman


Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahan
The Line by J.D. Horn


Murder, She Wrote: A Question of Murder by Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain
My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland
Geared for the Grave by Duffy Brown
Night Chill by Jeff Gunhus
Cat Deck the Halls by Shirley R. Murphy
Adventures in Dating by Sarah Rishforth

Books I’ve Read in 2014


Murder of a Stacked Librarian by Diane Swanson
Christmas Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley
Christmas is Murder by CS Challinor
All is Calm by Colleen Coble
The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn
Herald of Death by Kate Kingsbury


Pie Girls by Lauren Clark
To Hell and Gone in Texas by Russ Hall
The Vanishing by Wendy Webb
Mist in the Mirror by Susan Hill
Eat and Run by Scott Jurek
Night of the Living Deed by E.J. Cooperman


Dr. Sleep by Stephen King
Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Freeing Yourself from Anxiety by Tamar Chansky
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
The Black Heart Crypt: A Haunted Mystery by Chris Garbenstein
Meow if it’s Murder by TC LoTempio
All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn


Driving with the Top Down by Beth Harbison
The Selkie Spell by Sophie Moss
It’s Hard Not to Hate You by Valerie Frankel
Honey, Do You Need a Ride? By Jennifer Graham
The Unquiet by Jeanine Garsee


Perennial by Ryan Potter
Asylum by Madeline Reoux
The Cat Sitter’s Nine Lives by Blaize and John Clement
Dressed to Steal by Carolyn Keene
Hostile Makeover by Ellen Byerrum


Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy
Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagan
A Bad Day for Scandal by Sophie Littlefield
Dead until Dark  by Charlaine Harris


Killer Honeymoon by G.A. McKevett
Five Summers by Una Lamarche
Booty Bones by Carolyn Haines
It Takes an Egg Timer by Joanne Tombrakos
Lay Death at Her Door by Elizabeth Buhmann


Mischief in Mudbug by Jana Deleon
Murder on the Hoof by Kathryn O’sullivan
That Old Black Magic by Mary Jane Clark
I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I’ve Ever Had by Tony Danza


Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Lending a Paw by Laurie Cass
The Nerd’s Guide to Being Confident by Mark Manson
Paper Towns by John Green


Her Royal Spyness (Book 1) by Rhys Bowen
The Collection by Bentley Little
Murder and Moonshine by Carol Miller
Self-Compassion by Kristen Neff


Vampire Academy (Book 1) by Richelle Mead
Dog on It by Spencer Quinn
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff


The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
Following Atticus by Tom Ryan
A Fist Full of Collars by Spencer Quinn
Ghoul Interrupted by Victoria Lourie
Orphan Train by Kristina Baker Kline
Neon Rain by James Lee Burke

Books I’ve Read in 2013


The Clue is in the Pudding by Kate Kingsbury
Ghost Huntress: The Tidings by Marley Gibson
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
A Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kincaid
I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas by Molly Harper
The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen
Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber


A Christmas Hope by Anne Perry
The Secret of Cypriere Bayou by Jana Deleon
The Devil’s Footprints by Amanda Stevens
Whodunit: Murder in Mystery Manor by Anthony Zuiker


Mayhem at the Orient Express by Kylie Logan
Broken by A.E. Rought
Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen
Mid Summer Night’s Scream by R.L. Stine
Dead of Night by Charlaine Harris and Amanda Stevens
Dance on His Grave by Sylvia Dickey Smith


Haunting Violet by Alxyandra Harvey
The Cat Sitter’s Cradle by Blaize & John Clement
Phantom Evil by Heather Graham
On Writing by Stephen King


Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman
Veiled Revenge by Ellen Byerrum
Forever Charmed by Rose Pressey


Red Rain by R.L. Stine
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Latte Trouble by Cleo Coyle
Black Hills by Nora Roberts
Texas Cooking by Lisa Wingate


Nearly Departed in Deadwood by Ann Charles
A Cast Off Coven by Juliet Blackwell
Haunted on Bourbon Street by Deanna Chase
Killer Maize by Paige Shelton


The Crypt Thief by Mark Pryor
Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs
Edge of Dark Water by Joe Lansdale
Murder on the Half Shelf by Lorna Barrett
Foal Play by Kathryn O’Sullivan
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Supernaturals by David Lynn Goleman


The Thirteenth Sacrifice by Debbie Viguie
Cocktail Hour by Tara McTiernan
Opal Fire by Barbara Amino


A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson
Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Daniel X by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn
An Inquiry into Love and Death by Simone St. James


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Naturally Charlie by S.L. Scott
Pretty when She Dies by Rhiannon Frater
Angels Fall by Nora Roberts
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl


The Ghost and the Dead Man’s Library by Alice Kimberly
Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr
Awake at Dawn by C.C. Hunter
The Secret Circle by L.J. Smith
Amber House by Kelly Moore

Books I’ve Read in 2012

I Kill Me by Tracey H. Tucker
Silent Night by Deanna Raybourn
Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle
A Countess by Christmas by Annie Burrows
So Pretty it Hurts by Kate White
From What I Remember by Valerie Thomas and Stacy Kramer
Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson


Wicked Witch Murder (Lucy Stone Mystery #16)  by Leslie Meier
Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls by Victoria Laurie
Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls #1) by C.C. Hunter
Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendra Blake
Ghost Story by Peter Straub

Taking Chances (Heartland #4) by Lauren Brooke
Walk of the Spirits by Richie Tankersley Cusick
Trick or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
The Watcher in the Woods by Florence Engel Randall
Chasing Ghosts – Texas Style by Barry and Chad Klinge

Barefoot Girls by Tara McTiernan
The Swamp Whisperer by Sylvia Dickey Smith
The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
It Begins (The Unseen #1) by Richie Tankersley Cusick

The Five by Robert McCammon
The Espressologist by Kristina Springer
Misfortune Cookie by Michele Gorman
Delerium by Lauren Oliver

Hostile Makeover by Ellen Byerrum
Falling Home by Karen White
Death Perception (Psychic Eye Mysteries #6) by Victoria Laurie
Love at First Bark by Julie Klam
Breaking Free (Heartland #3) by Lauren Brooke

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
Making Piece, by Beth M. Howard
True Love Way by Nancy Scrofano
Monarch Beach by Anita Hughes
Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Sisterhood Everlasting by Anne Brashares
After the Storm (Heartland #2) by Lauren Brooke

Overseas by Beatriz Williams
Rough Country by John Sanford
Zombies Don’t Cry by Rusty Fischer
A Glimpse of Evil (Psychic Eye Mystery No. 8) by Victoria Laurie
Under Suspicion (Underworld Detection Agency Mystery No. 3) by Hannah Jayne
Dancing Naked in Dixie by Lauren Clark

Doom with a View by Victoria Laurie
Dare to Die (Death on Demand Mystery) by Carolyn Hart
Horns by Joe Hill
Heartland: Coming Home  (book 1) by Lauren Brooke
Trouble in Mudbug by Jana DeLeon
The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
Dark Lover (Blackdagger Brotherhood Series book 1) by J.R. Ward
Downward Dog, Upward Fog by Meryl Davids Landau


Destined to Fail by Samantha March
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Soulless by Gail Carriger
Recession Proof by Kimberly S. Lin
Death on Heels by Ellen Byerumm

Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter by Blaize Clement
Raining Cat Sitters and Dogs by Blaize Clement
Trashy Chic by Cathy Lubenski
Hereafter by Tara Hudson

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
Stay Tuned by Lauren Clark
The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Love by Robert Manni
How to Party with a Killer Vampire by Penny Warner
Love on the Lifts by Rachel Hawthorne
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Darkside by Beth Fantaskey

Books I’ve Read in 2011

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
The Girl who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
Made in the USA by Billie Letts
Bones of the Rain by Russ Hall

Wake by Lisa McMann
A House to Die for by Victoria Doudra
Sex, Murder and a Double Latte by Kyra Davis
A Werewolf in Manhattan by Vickie Lewis Thompson

A War of Her Own by Sylvia Dickey Smith
Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann
Ham Bones by Carolyn Haines
The Pulpwood Queens Tiara-Wearing Book-Sharing  Guide to Life by Kathy L. Patrick

Succubus Blues, by Richelle Mead
The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman
Just Take My Heart, by Mary Higgins Clark
The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffery Deaver

Wishbones by Carolyn Haines
A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield
First Grave on the Right, by Darynda Jones
Play Dead by Harlan Coben

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires, Book 1) by Rachel Caine
The Dead Girls’ Dance (Morganville Vampires, Book 2) by Rachel Caine
Backyard Saints by Joshylin Jackson

Deeper than the dead by Tami Hoag
Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay
Hexes and Hemlines by Juliet Blackwell
Die for Me by Amy Plum
Passion, Betrayal and Killer Highlights by Kyra Davis

Vows, Vendettas and a Little Black Dress by Kyra Davis
Killer Hair: A crime of Fashion by Ellen Byerrum
Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Under Attack by Hannah Jayne

Another Bad Dog Book by Joni B. Cole
Deadly Harvest by Heather Graham
Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye #1
Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
Pretty Woman by Fern Michaels
How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

The Hollow by Jessica Verday
I am Legend by Richard Matheson
Fever Moon by Carolyn Haines
The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson

Graveminder by Melissa Marr
Chihuahua of the Baskervilles by Esri Allbritten
The Pig and Me by Liindsay Frucci
Paranormal State by Ryan Buell

My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
Decked with Folly by Kate Kingsbury
Mistletoe and Mayhem by Kate Kingsbury
Christmas at Timberwoods by Fern Michaels
The Mischeif of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig

CeeCee’s Audiobook of the Month: Lair of Dreams

I’ll start off by stating that Libba Bray is one of my most favorite YA authors. She knows how to spin an adventurous tale filled with young, angsty love and complex characters. Most impressive is her ability to weave dozens of characters into multiple storylines that seamlessly merge together when everything comes to a head. So much is packed into this 600-page tome, but yet I managed to keep it all straight throughout the wild ride of dream-walking diviners, evil eugenicists, dancing Folly girls and underground ghosts.

It took me a while to recall all the players from the first installment, but the author expertly injected brief recaps without bogging down the story. One thing I do remember is that Evie, is positutely obnoxious! She’s a self-serving, unapologetic party girl who loves being the center of attention. Essentially she’s a 1920s Kardashian. There’s a sad backstory involving absentee parents and a dead brother, but I’m not pulling out the world’s smallest violin just yet.

But who cares about Evie (aka Evil) when we can journey with so many other fabulous characters with fascinating abilities? There’s a pretty lengthy cast of diviners to follow–and they are all gravitating toward one place: A creepy underground subway station rife with malevolent ghosts. There’s a number of villains lurking within the waking and dream worlds including a shadow man in a top hat, a veiled woman and cult leaders. Plus there’s Evie, who violates the girl code. But I suppose she’s one of the good guys.

Of all the characters, my favorite is Ling, a half-Chinese girl who walks through dreams. A newcomer to the series, she’s not acquainted with Evie and her Scooby Doo gang of friends. But with her diviner powers, she finds her way into the fold when she meets Henry (one of the gang) in a dream. Together, they explore a strange dreamworld as they pursue their individual quests. It gets complicated, so I’ll leave it at that. But I will say that their unlikely friendship is the best part of this book. Neither of them fit into mainstream society, a relatable struggle for readers young and old.

Then there’s Theta, a very secondary character who deserves her own standalone novel. This multi-talented, wise-cracking Follies dancer is a force to be reckoned with. A survivor of a psychopathic husband, Theta’s a self-made woman who’s willing to sing and dance her way to the top. I admire her loyalty to Evie and Henry, even when though they leave her in the dark throughout most of the book. Rude much!

Despite Evie’s obnoxious gin-riddled antics, I must admit that I was sucked into her budding relationship with Sam, a pick-pocketing con artist with a soft spot for fame-hungry women. When she fakes an engagement with Sam to build her star power, their ruse turns into radio show candy. The brainless masses are hooked and soon the two con artists become the toast of the town at lavish red carpet events. But as they say, what goes up must come down. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy watching the train wreck unfold.

I could tell you what happens next, but you’ll have to read the book instead. Better yet, get the audiobook because the narrator is positutely jake! I should warn you that it does get rather creepy when the gang wanders into the ghosts’ subterranean lair! This book is much darker than the first, which makes me wonder about the third installment. This will be a tough act to follow up, but I have faith in Miss Bray because she always delivers.

Brutus’ Book of the Month: Bridge of Bones by Richard Gleaves


Brutus is a big fan of the Headless Horseman! He’s waiting at Austin Pets Alive for a haunted house to call his own.

Halloween may be just a memory but lucky for you, Brutus and I celebrate this spooktacular holiday all year round! Some may think it’s strange that I prominently display my Department 56 haunted village throughout all four seasons, but I scoff at their provincial ways.  After they swap their jack-o-lanterns for tinsel and twinkle lights, I’ll still be reading Sleepy Hollow-themed books underneath the glow of my faux Haunted Mansion candelabra.

23390914Without further ado, Brutus would like to bring you a review of the second installment of the Jason Crane Sleepy Hollow series – and boy is it a doozy! Wow, where to begin? This book is huge, and there’s SO much ground to cover.  How about I start by introducing you to the fearless and loveable hero, Jason Crane?  I applaud Richard Gleaves for bringing all of his characters to life in a way that only a few masterful storytellers can pull off. Jason is a hapless hero who appeals to anyone who hasn’t won the genetic lottery. A decendent of none other than Ichabod Crane, he’s long, lanky and rather awkward around girls. But what he lacks in good looks and social graces, he makes up for in bravery and wit.  It’s a good think he’s got a lot of true grit because in this next adventure, he’s got more obstacles than the Hobbit and Harry Potter combined! Okay, that may be an overstatement, but the dude’s got some major problems.

The story unfolds in the aftermath of Jason’s near-death encounter with the Headless Horseman. The town is in an uproar after he shattered the door of the old Dutch church. The townsfolk hate him so much, even his teachers are giving him the boot from their classrooms. To say that he is persona non grata would be an understatement. After his beloved grandmother’s untimely death, Jason is left under the care of his evil guardian, Hediwig (sorry about butchering his name, but that’s one of the drawbacks of reading via audio.) His family fortune is being siphoned into a nefarious political campaign and his grandmother’s old house has turned into a scene from Hoarders. Chips are down.

Things go from bad to worse when Jason and his crush Kate discover that they have been saddled with the Witches Curse. Isn’t it bad enough that they are both tortured by unrequited love?  Oh and they’re being hunted down by an axe-wielding horseman from beyond the grave.

This book may be long, but I finished it in a weekend because it’s one heck of a ride. I learned so much about the evil powers that control the Sleepy Hollow boneyard, and the evil entity that ultimately controls the Headless Horseman.  Murderous ghosts and malevolent witches are unsettling, but the most frightening thing about this book is the evil that lurks within Hediwig’s soul.  This is more than just a cat-and-mouse adventure story. It’s also a terrifying character sketch of the mind of a sociopath. There were points when Hediwick tried to fight his dark madness, yet his weakness was no match for pure evil. That, my friends, is far more frightening than a Headless Horseman lurking in the woods on Halloween night.

I’ll stop right here to save you from spoilers.  But I will leave you with one tip. I highly suggest “reading” this one of audio. The narrator is the best in the business, and it’s a lot of fun listening to the book while walking around a spooky trail at dusk. Happy reading—or listening—my friends!

Washington Irving Fans, Eat Your Heart Out!

18586140Another hot and muggy September has reared its ugly head in this inferno called Austin. That means I’ll be reading nothing but spooky ghost stories all the way through December! This year, I’m jump-starting the witching season with this fun YA thriller filled with ghosts, leering jack-o-lanterns and a sword-wielding fiend on horseback.

Sounds promising, but yet I went into this book with cautious optimism. After attempting to watch that blasphemous Sleepy Hollow series and suffering through the first installment of the Hollow Trilogy, I know that there’s so many ways a headless horseman story could go wrong. Oh and please don’t get me started on the Tim Burton movie. Who in their right mind would cast Johnny Depp as Ichabod? I’m sure poor old Irving is still rolling around in his grave over that one.

Here’s the thing. If you’re going to retell old Washington Irving’s masterpiece, you better use the spooky setting to your full advantage. Irving and Ray Bradbury mastered the art of intoxicating readers with lyrical descriptions of fall landscapes. Contemporary authors all seem to pale in comparison. That is until I took a chance on Richard Gleaves.

He is clearly a huge fan of Irving’s work, and it shows in his atmospheric descriptions of Ichabod Crane’s stomping grounds. His prose swept me away to the little hamlet along the Hudson River, where I could hear the soft autumn breeze wafting through the trees, smell the smoke drifting from burnt leaves, and see the moonlight shining upon spooky boneyard. Such fun!

With a hip hip and a clippity clop, he's out looking for a head to chop!

With a hip hip and a clippity clop, he’s out looking for a head to chop!

The genius of the story, is the parallels between the modern day characters and their direct descendants—Brom bones and Ichabod Crane. Our hero Jason Crane may be long and lanky, but he’s much cooler than his social-climbing ancestor. As expected, he falls in love with Kate (the new Katrina), who is unfortunately hooked up with the modern day Brom Bones, a school jock with lots of skeletons in the closet.

Of all the multi-dimensional characters in this book, I most enjoyed Jason’s newfound bestie—a wannabe Robin Williams who spends most of his waking hours manning the grounds of the local cemetery. This actually comes in handy when Jason finds that his grandmother is being conned into digging up a veritable Pandora’s box that has been entombed in the family crypt for two centuries.

I’ll save you from the gory details—and I mean that in every sense of the word! But I will say that this is one thrill ride that will get you in the Halloween spirit. Ever since I watched the Disney version of Sleepy Hollow—a masterpiece onto itself—I’ve been obsessed with this story. It was such a treat when Gleaves invoked bits and pieces from Ichabod’s last ride into the climax. I won’t tell you any more, but I will say that fans of the Disney classic will be most amused.


Short and Sweet Sundays

sundaysI’ve been reading like a fiend this past month—and not one review to show for it! In a perfect world, I would spend my days reading on the chaise lounge with my chubby cat and my nights toiling away on my book, which has been left stagnating in Scrivner for months. Needless to say, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with my poor little book blog!

So in the interest of saving time, I bring you some short and sweet reviews for a few standout books that were definitely worth my precious little free time:

Murder, She Wrote: A Question of Murder by Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain

334352When I saw this title pop up in Audible’s “daily deal,” I immediately hit the purchase button.  The TV show may be history, but Jessica Fletcher continues to be the harbinger of death in this extensive book series. Without fail, the charming and delightful J.B. Fletcher stumbles upon a dead body everywhere she goes—cocktail parties, beach resorts, book tours, weddings—you name it! I just want to cry out, “No, no, no! Don’t invite her to your party, you fool! Don’t you know that’s the kiss of death?!”

That’s exactly what happens in this mystery when our intrepid amateur sleuth attends a murder mystery weekend at a haunted East Coast mansion. She meets an eclectic cast of characters, all with hidden agendas. As expected, a member of the acting troop keels over dead in the middle of a scene. Now it’s up to Jessica to question the many suspects and piece together the clues. Was it a jilted lover? A jealous husband? Or perhaps a fellow mystery writer who loves writing about murder a little too much?

With so many questionable characters and possible motives, it wasn’t easy guessing whodunit. And just when I thought I had it all figured out, a plot twist in the very last chapter threw my theory right out the window. If you love an atmospheric whodunit set in a historic mansion filled with hidden trapdoors and ghosts, this one’s for you.

My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

9640626Believe it or not, this is my very first zombie book. I love all things creepy and crawly, but yet I haven’t really ventured into the chick lit zombie genre, maybe because there’s nothing more grotesque than a zombie getting it on. Wouldn’t body parts fall off? And then there’s the stench—gross! True, this book ranks high on the ick-factor, but yet it cuts deeper than some of the titles you’d see in Oprah’s book club.

What makes this book special is the walking dead girl’s journey of self-discovery. She may look fierce on the cover, but she’s really a big-hearted, insecure girl who got dealt a shitty hand of parents. Nobody believes she’ll amount to anything more than trailer-park trash, including herself. It took being turned into a zombie for her life to change for the better. After a car crash, she heals not only from her wounds, but also from her drug addiction. A mysterious benefactor hooks her up with a job at the local morgue, where she falls into a new circle of friends who are surprisingly non-toxic. For the first time ever, people actually give a shit, and they believe she can amount to so much more than a lowly driver for the county morgue.

Her world has turned upside down for the better, except for one nagging problem: her insatiable craving for brains. Everything falls apart—literally—if she can’t sink her teeth into that delectable gray matter. Good thing she has a most advantageous new job where brains are plentiful…that is until a serial killer starts decapitating the townies. Why is the killer taunting her with headless bodies? Who turned her into a walking dead girl the night of the car crash? Was it her mysterious benefactor? You’ll have to read the book to find out! I enjoyed the murder mystery aspect of this story, but mostly I was more transfixed by Angel’s journey of self-discovery. Throughout the book I cheered her on as she discovered her strengths and stood up to her bullies. I’m excited to see how she evolves in the next two books in the series!

Geared for the Grave by Duffy Brown

23505722If you haven’t been to Mackinac Island up on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, put it on your bucket list! I married a Michigander, so we sometimes take a little daytrip up to the island while visiting his folks. Just imagine Disneyland’s Main Street on a remote island where there’s nothing but cutesy shops, restaurants and oodles of fudge! Aside from the chocolaty goodness, the best part about the island is that no cars are allowed. If you want to get around, you’ll have to hoof it, ride a bike or jump on a horse buggy. Coming from Austin—one of the worst traffic cities in the universe—that sounds like bliss!

So it’s only fitting that this mystery begins when the meanest lady in town dies in a horrific bike accident. Considering that everyone despised her, the suspect list is bigger than Lake Superior. Yet thanks to a supposed eye witness, it becomes an open-and-shut case. The temporary town Sherriff is more than happy to pin the murder on Rudy Randolph, owner of a rundown bike rental shop. This doesn’t bode well for our protagonist, Evie Bloomfield, who’s determined to fix up the bike shop to boost her chances of promotion. You see, Rudy’s daughter is Evie’s boss, and if he goes to prison, she can kiss her big-city job goodbye.  The townies also have reasons to sweep the murder under the rug. Tourists (aka “fudgies”) are their bread and butter, so it’s important to not botch up the island’s idyllic Norman Rockwellesque façade. Who knew that a happy place like Mackinac Island could be a seedy hotbed of murder, blackmail and organized crime?! If you, like me, love an atmospheric whodunit filled with quirky characters and snarky dialogue, give this one a try. I’m excited to see what’s in store for Evie and her eclectic sidekicks in the next installment of this new series. Boy, I sure could go for some gooey fudge right about now!

The Swamp Whisperer by Sylvia Dickey Smith

I need another book like a hole in the head, but sometimes I can’t resist a good story in a spooky rural setting with ghosts, feisty female characters and a good old-fashioned whodunit. That’s why I love Sylvia Dickey Smith’s Sidra Smart mysteries. She may not be a household name like Heather Graham or Nora Roberts, but this talented Texan writes like a pro – and I’m just so glad I stumbled upon her books that fateful day at the Texas Book Festival!

I have a theory for why the big publishing houses haven’t signed her on. You see, just like show biz, publishers have to appeal to the masses, and that means gorgeous long-legged protagonists, formulaic plotlines and contrived love triangles. Sure these bestselling authors occasionally include a senior citizen, but the old folks are typically the token “zany granny.”

Never one to follow the lead, Dickey Smith’s books are a welcome departure from the norm.   Boo Murphy, the leading lady in “Swamp Whisperer,” is by far one of the most unique protagonists I’ve come across in crime fiction. She’s cranky, obstinate, and full of piss and vinegar! She’s completely insufferable, but when you peel back the layers, it’s hard not to find a soft spot in your heart for this overgrown tomboy.

The mystery begins when Boo paddles out into the alligator-infested bayou and finds an Atakapa-Ishak brushwood hut. Considering that the Native American tribe of alleged cannibals disappeared from the Texas and Louisiana coastal regions centuries ago, it’s downright impossible for a hut to still remain standing.

All is not well, the cold rain whispered. Boo looked around, expecting to see a ghostly figure floating across the swamp, but no one was there.  This time she knew she hadn’t been imagining things – of that she was most convinced.

To prove she’s not going senile, she grabs her prissy cousin Sasha and heads back out into the murky water in search of the hut. After a boating mishap, they seek refuge in a spooky cabin, where they stumble upon a ghostly apparition and find a frightened woman trapped underneath a dead body.

After a thorough interrogation, the woman reveals that she’s a part of a covert anthropological project. Under the guise of research, an egotistical professor and a group of scholars are recreating the site of an Atakapa-Ishak village. Is this legitimate scientific research, or a self-serving treasure hunt? Good thing Boo was able to pocket that mysterious map from the dead man’s cabin.

Things get complicated when Boo’s beloved hound and cousin go missing. Someone knows she has the map – and Boo needs to piece together the clues to rescue her loved ones and save the sacred silver mine from desecration. With some help from an ethereal spirit within the swamp, she finds the strength and courage to track down the killer…and learns a bit about herself in the process.

The wind’s embrace seeped into her pores and stirred her insides. She sucked in a deep breath, allowing the dampness to fill her lungs with every particle of oxygen available to her. She held that breath as long as she could, hating to let it go, for never before had she felt so strongly that she and the swamp were one entity with one purpose – but what that purpose was, she hadn’t a clue.

Listen, the wind warned. The swamp is at risk, can’t you tell?

I’ll stop right here before I give too much away. If you’re into atmospheric whodunits, I implore you to read this book! What I really love about this author is her knack for character development. Through Boo’s grumbling self-dialogue, readers can feel her strong bond with nature and emphasize with her resistance to love and be loved. Oh how I love Boo! We don’t get many heroines like this one in crime fiction – or any other genre for that matter – but we should. Though this is a Sidra Smart mystery, this is really Boo’s time to shine. But don’t fret; the book sporadically touches on Sidra’s misadventures as she road trips with her eccentric aunt to Santa Fe for a wedding. I won’t give too much away, but I will tell you there’s ghosts involved!

If you’ve never read a Sylvia Dickey Smith book, this one will draw you into the fold. Her love of Southeast Texas comes through in her luscious descriptions of the sights, sounds and smells of the swamp. At times I began to wonder if perhaps she might be a swamp whisperer herself!

If you’d like to meet this fabulous author, she’ll be at the Texas Book Festival, which is happening this month. I can’t wait!!!

Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge 2012!

I have a huge pile of cozies just waiting to be read, so this Book Chick City Mystery and Suspense Challenge should be a cinch! I have until this time next year to read 24 mysteries. From crime-solving kitties to ghost-whispering sleuths, my reading list is chock-full of murder, mayhem, romance and intrigue! To get a head start, I think I’ll skip out on the Sixth Street party scene this New Year’s Eve and ring in 2012 with a paranormal cozy. The real challenge here is deciding which one to read first!

 Here’s the first 16 whodunits I plan to read:

 1. How to Party with a Killer Vampire by Penny Warner
 2. Raining Cat Sitters and Dogs by Blaize Clement
 3. Hostile Makeover by Ellen Byerrum
 4. Jane and the Ghosts of Netley by Stephanie Barron
 5. Greedy Bones by Carolyn Haines–Read her Q&A here.
 6. Bone Appetit by Carolyn Haines–Read my review for “Wishbones” here.
 7. Pushing Up Bluebonnets by Leann Sweeney
 8. A Bad Day for Scandal by Sophie Littlefield–Read my review for “A Bad Day for Sorry” here.
 9. Secondhand Spirits by Juliet Blackwell — Read her Q&A here.
10. A Crazy Little Thing Called Death by Nancy Martin–Read my review for “Murder Melts in Your Mouth” here.
11. Better Read than Dead by Victoria Laurie
12. How to Survive a Killer Séance by Penny Warner
13. Night of the Living Deed by E.J. Copperman
14. Murder Past Due by Miranda James
15. The Trouble with Magic by Madelyn Alt
16. Death on Heels by Ellen Byerrum 

For more details about this challenge, visit Book Chick City.