Book Reviews, Giveaways

Book Review & Spotlight: Casket Case by Lee James

Casket Case

The Cynthia Shade Mysteries Book 1

by Lee James

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Cynthia Shade. That’s her name. She has ADHD and cynophobia. That’s just a fancy way of saying she’s terrified of dogs. Not all dogs mind you, just the tiny ones that come at you with their razor-sharp fangs and frenzied eyes. To make it worse, she can’t find a job, rather, she can’t keep a job, and she’s about to be evicted. Just when she gets a glimmer of hope she’s blackmailed into trying to solve a murder.


Cue the handsome sheriff who awakens real interest in perpetually single Cynthia, and a cast of crazed suspects. One of whom is determined she doesn’t make it out of this adventure alive.

This was a fun cozy mystery about a broke caterer trying to get her food truck up and running, but stumbles into solving a murder.

I’m a sucker for a good mystery and this was a good one. I enjoyed the characters, and the plot was very interesting. Cynthia’s fear of dogs had me cracking up. The dynamics between her and Sam was the main reason I kept reading the book. The supporting characters helped move the story and I am glad the author didn’t let the spark of romance between Cynthia and the sheriff Arric take over. Sam was an aggressive older lady that was very convincing.

Cynthia’s mother and sister did get on my nerves trying to make her do what they wanted instead of letting her find her own path. I will say at her age she should have found a career a while back.

This was a fast-paced book with small clues, rich characters and the right number of potential suspects. I didn’t figure out the killer until the last few chapters. If you like cozy mysteries with a little bit of humor, then this book is for you. I myself will definitely read more mysteries by this author.



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Lee James writes stories of hope and redemption. Whether it’s fantasy, mystery or historical fiction, her beautifully awkward characters traverse a dark labyrinth on their journey to a hopeful end. She is vehement about the importance of creating and preserving the sanctity of the written word. In that vein, she supports literacy programs and her local libraries. Most importantly, she supports her fellow writers. When not writing, she enjoys photography, watching The Simpsons, and of course, reading.


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Book Reviews

Book Review of They Never Learn by Layne Fargo

Title: They Never Learn

Author: Layne Fargo

Genre: Thriller

Publication Date: October 13, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Purchase at AMAZON /  BARNES & NOBLE


About The Book

Scarlett Clark is an exceptional English professor. But she’s even better at getting away with murder.

Every year, she searches for the worst man at Gorman University and plots his well-deserved demise. Thanks to her meticulous planning, she’s avoided drawing attention to herself—but as she’s preparing for her biggest kill yet, the school starts probing into the growing body count on campus. Determined to keep her enemies close, Scarlett insinuates herself into the investigation and charms the woman in charge, Dr. Mina Pierce. Everything’s going according to her master plan…until she loses control with her latest victim, putting her secret life at risk of exposure.

Meanwhile, Gorman student Carly Schiller is just trying to survive her freshman year. Finally free of her emotionally abusive father, all Carly wants is to focus on her studies and fade into the background. Her new roommate has other ideas. Allison Hadley is cool and confident—everything Carly wishes she could be—and the two girls quickly form an intense friendship. So when Allison is sexually assaulted at a party, Carly becomes obsessed with making the attacker pay…and turning her fantasies about revenge into a reality.

My Thoughts

Scarlett is a English Professor by day and a killer after hours. This makes the story interesting. Is she killing for fun or for a purpose? I figured it’s for a purpose because she picks the worst men on campus to take out. She is an intriguing character.

Carly is a student who seems naive, not confident in her sexuality and is an introvert. Her roommate Allison is more outgoing and is trying to get her out of her comfort zone. While attending a party Allison is raped. Carly’s personality changes after this and a new Carly emerges.

They attend a typical college where the sport teams are everything and are not held responsible. I do believe the killings were spread out too far apart. It is believable to hold a grudge for a long time and want revenge. Kinnear was horrible and deserved to be punished.

I will say I didn’t care for the way the story is set up. You get Scarlett’s chapter which seem to be an older version of Carly. Carly’s chapters are from when she was in college and her friend was raped, but no one paid for it. In the story I could tell Scarlett was getting revenge on a professor from her college days while making guys pay for their wrong doings at Gorman College where she works and had attended school. This in turn made me believe she was also Carly.

For me this would have been better if Scarlett told the story and then revealed toward the end of the midpoint what happened to her and Allison in college. I also wanted more when she finally confronted Kinnear about what he did to her 16 years ago. I understand why Allison didn’t want to say anything about her rape because she knew the school security wasn’t going to do anything about it and the cops either.

The tension between Carly and Allison and also Scarlett and Jasper was interesting yet confusing as well as Mina and Scarlett. Scarlett’s a very complex character and I wanted more of her dark side. However I did like the way her secret was revealed within the story.

I look forward to reading more of this author’s work.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Reviews

Book Review: Influence by Carl Weber

Title: Influence

Author: Carl Weber

Genre: Legal Thriller, Urban Fiction

Publication Date: August 28, 2018

Purchase at Amazon/ B&N

About the Book

When famed attorney Bradley Hudson learns of his youngest son Langston’s arrest for drug trafficking, he immediately assembles a team of lawyers and investigators, including members of his own family, to build a defense. With his reputation for being a shark in the courtroom, Bradley is confident he will get justice for his son—until he realizes he will be going up against an old foe, Assistant District Attorney James Brown. Is the ADA allowing his personal history with the Hudsons to influence his handling of the prosecution?

To complicate matters, Bradley discovers that his older son, Lamont, a young lawyer and Bradley’s right-hand man, has secretly been planning his exit from the family law firm to get out from under his father’s shadow.

Desiree, Bradley’s only daughter, is fresh out of law school and quite reserved compared to her siblings. She’s the good girl who doesn’t normally like to rock the boat, but in what could be considered the worst of all timing, she is secretly dating a man and a woman, and both relationships are on a collision course. Given the problems her family is facing, now is not the right time for Desiree to introduce
more drama to the mix, but she just can’t seem to help herself.

As if fighting for one son’s freedom and fending off the other’s betrayal isn’t enough pressure, Bradley is also in the middle of his own love triangle between his ex-wife, federal judge Jacqueline Hudson, and his current wife and jury consultant, Carla. He knows how much is at stake if his family’s drama spirals out of control, so he’ll do everything within his power to keep it all together and prevent his son from landing behind bars. With his trademark dramatic style, Carl Weber introduces readers to the Hudsons. Only time will tell if they can stand united, or if the legal dynasty of Bradley Hudson is about to come crashing down.

My Thoughts

A family of lawyers.

An Assistant District Attorney wanting revenge.

What could go wrong? Probably everything.

When the Hudson’s find out one of their own has been accused of drug trafficking, they go into action to get him and his friends cleared. Several obstacles get in the way. James, the assistant district attorney is hellbent on bringing Bradley down. Will his son Langston have to pay for his father’s past transgressions?

Every power family has some type of dysfunction and the Hudson are no different. The daughter Desiree can’t decide on who she wants to be with man or woman, while trying to prove she is a capable lawyer. Lamont the eldest is wanting to step away from his father’s shadow by making it on his own. Langston is being accused of drug trafficking, but stands his ground and stays loyal to his friends.

Jaqueline, the children’s mother is a federal judge, who is trying to forget what happened in the past while trying to save her son. Bradley the head of the family is known for being the best, a powerful lawyer but his tactics are not working so well this time.

In this legal thriller, a family unit and friendships are tested. There are so many hidden agendas in this book, but worth reading. Carl Weber does not disappoint and I like a book featuring a strong black family.



Book Reviews

Book Review: Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards

Title: Five Total Strangers

Author: Natalie D. Richards

Publication Date: October 6, 2020

Genre: YA Horror, Thriller, Mystery

Purchase at Amazon/ Barnes & Noble

About The Book

She thought being stranded was the worst thing that could happen. She was Wrong.

Mira needs to get home for the holidays. Badly. But when an incoming blizzard results in a canceled connection, it looks like Mira might get stuck at the Philadelphia airport indefinitely.

And then Harper, Mira’s glamorous seatmate from her initial flight, comes to the rescue. Harper and her three friends are renting a car, and they can drop Mira off on the way home. But as their trip begins, Mira discovers her fellow travelers aren’t friends like she thought–They’re total strangers. And every one of them seems to be hiding something dangerous

Soon, Mira is in a panic. The roads have gone from slippery to terrifying. People’s belongings are mysteriously disappearing. Someone in the car is clearly lying… and Mira begins to suspect that one of them is sabotaging the trip. If she wants to make it home alive, she’ll need to uncover the truth about these strangers before this nightmare drive turns fatal.

My Thoughts 

I’m never going outside when there is a snow storm. This book definitely convinced me. It’s not a good ideal to get into a car with strangers, but Mira does and it turns out to be a bad decision. It has all the elements of a thriller that had me anticipating what would happen next. The clues were well hidden and the build up was worth the reveal.

I connected with Mira immediately and wanted to strangle her for getting in the car with the others. She was leary of them but found herself stuck with them after awhile. Harper is the rich kid who wants to help everyone get home, but it seemed like she had some emotional issues going on. Josh was helpful and concerned even though he had a injured leg. Karla was hardly present in the book. She also was lazy and antisocial.

I will say these characters were intriguing but didn’t handle sticky situations well. The setting was essential to the suspense in the book. The pacing was nice and kept my interest. I will definitely read more of her work.