First Line Friday

Tea Corner (Blog)

Ooooh yeah baby 😎

It’s the last day of April!

It’s National Boba Day!

And it’s FRIYAY!

And you know what that means! It’s time for First Line Friday!

First Lines Friday is a weekly book meme hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

This week’s Lines:

A large, bronze bell rang loudly and quickly and filled the air of this small town in the late afternoon sun. Usually, the church bell tolled every hour on the hour, but this was a different bell. This was a symbolic bell that put joy in the hearts of the children of Fellowship. It was the final school bell before summer began, and each and every child anticipated hearing it. (Gosh, the teachers did, too…)

Enjoyed that preview?

The Sheriff (The Fellowship Book #2) by David Scott Meyers

Remember that book with the fun font choices and hand drawn illustrations? I was lukewarm about the first book but it had a draw in it that pulled me back. Here’s to fulfilling that promise because I refuse to let myself leave this series/trilogy at just book 1. I have to find out what happens!

This’ll be my first read of May!

Blurb

Two years have gone by in the surrounding area of Fellowship. Huey Morgan continues to feel unappreciated in his role as the deputy for the sheriff’s department of Duck County. Playing second fiddle to Sheriff Absalom Holmes, a well-respected constable who has been getting too comfortable in his job and becoming lazier and lazier, Huey feels the weight of the work falling solely on his shoulders. Late one, hot summer night, Huey is awakened by a phone call, which leads to a gruesome discovery that will shake the foundations of this small town…

Links

Review to Book 1: The Contractor

Amazon: amazon.com/Sheriff-Fellowship-Book-2-ebook/dp/B08G76J56L

Goodreads: goodreads.com/book/show/56502052-the-sheriff

Author Website: finscottpublishing.weebly.com/

1 Year Blogiversary

Tea Corner (Blog)

A great many years ago, my brother, cousin and I wanted to start a website with no solid ideas in mind. It was just one of our little games that we came up with that bore no fruit. Abe.wordpress.com (A.B.E standing for each of our first initials) never launched because we grew bored after the second day (I stuck around for maybe 2 more days before dropping the project altogether).

It’s a funny thing, a little wrap around come back. All these years, nearly a decade and half later, I would ended up back here with WordPress as my preferred platform to blog on. This time, I stuck around for much longer and now it’s the blog’s first birthday.

I started Cozy with Books because literally all of my friends were pulling together their own little quarantine projects. A few started podcasts, one started a family Youtube channel, there’s a friend who has her own baking business, and another with her own resin business. I felt a bit left behind in the dust and figured, I had nothing to do with this newfound free time of mine so why not a blog? It’d probably be a little more fun than Goodreads anyways.

And it’s been a whole year! Huh! 😲
Time sure flies.

So in the festivities of celebrating a 1 year anniversary I’m going to make myself a cup of coffee and then follow it up with a nice cup of tea later.

All The Fun Times

I learned a lot and I grew a lot.

The book blogging community is such a fun place to be. Give me a year back and I wouldn’t even have much of a TBR to work with (let alone the mountain I have now). I was constantly struggling with what to read next because Virgil Flowers and Jack Reacher were my main series and I was slowly running out of both. I wasn’t adventurous. I didn’t break out of my preferred genres and I was getting bored with reading. I had plenty of games to play and eventually it would’ve progressed to the point of me dropping reading completely.

But then I came across the writing and book blog community and it’s been an amazing year of warm hugs and cookies with tea. This is such a loving community, albeit, there’s constantly something going on and somehow I’m never there to see it start.

All the acronyms that I still don’t know.
The friends that understand what it means to cry over a book.
The ones that love ebooks and physicals alike.
And learning what book hangovers are.
Bookish meme funs.
The joys of book tags.
The joys of blog tours that I mistakenly called book tours for weeks and no one corrected me.

I could write a whole list of things I love about blogging all on its own!

It’s been a fun ride and I hope for many more years and many more posts to come!

A Year’s Worth of Blogging
Celebrating the Many Memories

First Post!

The first ever post where I had no idea what to do. I spent three days throwing a garbage site together, two nights coming up with the logo (the best creative ideas come after midnight!) and then nearly a week afterwards, chasing it all back down with constant renovations because nothing satisfied my everchanging opinions about the layout (I’m contemplating changing it again because this one feels too cramped).

First Review (A Revamp)

The first review I came up with was actually a redo of one I already posted up on Goodreads. Didn’t like it. Didn’t feel like I did the book enough justice and ended up redoing it.

First Book List!

The first list I ever pulled together was a few of my favorite series at the time. I stuck primarily to fantasy and mystery thrillers and while I’ve branched out to a few new genres, I’m not sure much has changed when it comes to my favorite genres and series. Virgil Flowers remains my top one!

My First Book Tag!

The first I was ever tagged in a book tag was from Ashlee over at Books are 42 (go check her out!) Boy was I elated! While I don’t read enough books to really pick a lot out for any of the themed book tags, I loved the miscellaneous ones like “Would You Rather” tags! Each tag gives me the warm fuzzies…then and now.

First Review (Post Launch)

The first review I wrote for a book I read after starting Cozy with Books was one my first Lucas Davenport books (the Prey series). Mentioned in my Top 3 Favs: John Sandford Books this was one of the first and very few Prey books I’ve read (I’m just starting to scratch the surface of that behemoth of a series).

First NetGalley Read

I’m currently maintaining an 80% ratio on there, but not for any impressive reasons other than hardly picking up any of my reads from NetGalley. I’m not one to request a ton of things if I know I can’t possibly read them in a reasonable period of time so I’ve been mostly reading their ready to read books. NetGalley has become a place where I’d pick up a book if I was stuck and didn’t know what to read next (which hardly happens now). This post was a review for the first NetGalley book I’d ever picked up and one of my first dive into different genres in a long time. Boy…did I cry my eyes out through that whole book.

The Time When I learned What Anchor Links Were

My reviews range from slightly long to wordy. I have a lot to say, especially for books I love. I’m that person you’d hate in the theaters or in movie marathon parties with friends…the dreaded commentators everyone would shout “WILL YOU SHUT UP ALREADY?!?” at. And in reviews, that part of me comes out in the form of rambles and blabs. I figured, I’ve seen Wikipedia have these little “jumping links” I wonder if WordPress offers that? …They did (although…I’m still trying to figure out how to land the link in the right spot).

The First Blog Tour

And…my very first blog tour…which for a while I called book tours. I’d been looking for a steampunk book for a while and this one just happened to land that opportunity in my lap. It was an okay book and perhaps not my favorite, but it was still a pretty entertaining book with a decent plot.


And that’s that. I’d sit here and pull together some stats and “my favorite posts” but then I’d be here forever. Maybe I’ll do just that very thing for next year’s post (for I am not a creative human being and my ideas are sadly quite limited). All in all, it’s been a lovely time and hopefully in next year’s anniversary wrap up there’ll be many more posts to chose from!

Thanks for everyone that stuck around. I wouldn’t have had as much motivation if my blog had nothing to go on! I appreciate every one of you! All the love and here…! Take some of my favorite virtual tea as a gift of thanks 🍵

The Lore of Prometheus [Blog Tour] [Review]

2021, Book Reviews, By Year

I received a copy of this book as part of a blog tour. A huge shout out and a major thank you to the BBNYA 2020 tours organized by the @The_WriteReads tours team as well as to the author for letting me participate in this tour. All opinions are my own. 

BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors. 
If you are an author and wish to learn more about the 2021 BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website (https://www.bbnya.com/) or our Twitter account, @BBNYA_Official.

If you would like to sign-up and enter your book, you can find the BBNYA 2021 AUTHOR SIGN UP FORM HERE. Please make sure to carefully read our terms and conditions before entering. 

If you are a book blogger or reviewer, you can apply to be part of BBNYA 2021 by filling out this form (also remember to read the terms and conditions before signing up)! 

BBNYA is brought to you in association with the Folio Society (If you love beautiful books you NEED to check out their website!) And the book blogger support group TheWriteReads.


Book Name: The Lore of Prometheus
Author: Graham Austin-King
Pages: 287
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle Genre: Fantasy > Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Fiction > Military Fiction, Thriller
Rating: 4.5 (Goodreads: 5)

TW/CW: PTSD, Gore, Violence, Kidnapping, Torture, Drugging, Held Prisoner, Death, Burned Alive/To Death, Murder, Medical Experimentation, Gunshot wounds, War and War Scenes 

Blurb

John Carver has three rules: Don’t drink in the daytime, don’t gamble when the luck has gone, and don’t talk to the dead people who come to visit.

It has been almost five years since the incident in Kabul. Since the magic stirred within him and the stories began. Fleeing the army, running from the whispers, the guilt, and the fear he was losing his mind, Carver fell into addiction, dragging himself through life one day at a time.

Desperation has pulled him back to Afghanistan, back to the heat, the dust, and the truth he worked so hard to avoid. But there are others, obsessed with power and forbidden magics, who will stop at nothing to learn the truth of his gifts. Abducted and chained, Carver must break more than his own rules if he is to harness this power and survive.

Thoughts & Opinons

Straight into the book, I took noticed of the writing style and thought, “I’m going to like it here.” I wasn’t here to participate in judging last year’s competition, but if I had to choose any random piece, it didn’t matter where in the book I landed, I probably would’ve agreed that this book was very well written so I think it’s a well earned crown that sits atop this book and author.

A short read that’s just shy of 300 pages, I went into this book already late and still managed to finish right about on time. Saying I inhaled the book was probably an understatement.

A very dark book the starts with addiction, gambling, trauma and hallucinations and dives deep into kidnapping, experimentations and brutal psychological and physical torture. Trauma is a major theme of this book and is the root and source of many of the prisoners’ powers. Horrific trauma, watching your loved ones die, and knowing there’s no other possible way out for yourself is the fuel to the bonfire.

This is the second military fiction I’ve read, and to date, both books had protagonists that suffered from various degrees of survivors guilt. John Carver, is a broken man, even before the kidnappers got a hold of him. Suffering from deep trauma, severe PTSD and survivors guilt, he is down on his luck and very nearly down to his last pennies. With a loan shark breathing down his next promising his own next breathes to maybe be his last, unless he coughs up the dough, Carver is doomed and very very desperate. He’s got no more choices left and he needs to get a job and he’s desperate enough to go back to where it all started.

With most of his skills stemming from his military experience, his only chance is a glorified babysitting job back Kabul, back to where the dust and nightmares began.

Being the only one in his squad who had survived during his time in Kabul, he blames himself for the loss of his teammates, especially so as hallucinations. For the last five years, Pearson, Wilson, and Turner have plagued him and not just in his memories. Ghosts of his past follow him daily, so real they bleed on the floors in front of him, reminding him that he, Carver, could have and did not save them.

Mackenzie is the other main protagonist with her own traumas and just as Carver’s trauma woke his “miracle” so did hers. Both she and Carver were well written characters and you really got to know them. Mackenzie displayed absolute strength in the toughest of times and the two of them made for an amazing read and as much as I enjoyed how well done Carver’s character is, I think that Mackenzie is the character I loved the most. My heart broke for her, stopped for her, bled and cried for her trauma; both in the past and what she goes through in the book, especially the latter.

Action packed, this book was phenomenally put together and thought-out. There was plenty of research going into this and those, like me, with no background in the military won’t need to fear getting lost. Any jargon of any sorts is easily and simply explained; a quick breeze over without interrupting the story telling and flow.

The book switches between two characters POVs (Mackenzie and Carver) as well as two types of POVs, third and first respectively. I didn’t really mind the switch in POV types though it did take me perhaps 6 chapters to noticed that it was being switched around at all (I’m not the most attentive). I actually quite liked it because it helped separate the two situations and if there were any deeper analysis to this; I’d say the first person really helped me get into Carver’s head because only Carver could see what he sees and that’s people that are no longer amongst the living. I don’t think third person would have worked as well.

Fast paced and with great dialogues that helped break and ease the tension in this extremely dark, gorey and very unforgiving situation, this book was very well executed. It had me hooked from the start and flying through the book was no hard task. Paired with wonderfully written characters, real or not, I had a great time. I was a WEEE bit confused towards the end but that might just be me.

A little sad to see this book come to a close as it’s a standalone but it’s been the rainbow to my newly discovered pot of gold as I look forward to more from Graham Austin-King and I will definitely be following and checking out some of his other works.

I heavily recommend this book because it’s executed so well with the writing being one of my favorite aspects of this read. I’m one to love characters more than the writing and plot itself, but this time, despite how well the characters are already written, it was the writing style and writing that I truly fell in love it. However, please keep in mind that this is a pretty dark book with a lot of triggers. It gets very intense and heavy at times and even I needed a breather here and there.

4 ½ Cups 🥰

Author

Graham Austin-King was born in the south of England and weaned on broken swords and half-forgotten spells.

A shortage of these forced him to consume fantasy novels at an ever-increasing rate, turning to computers and tabletop gaming between meals.

He experimented with writing at the beginning of an education that meandered through journalism, international relations, and law. To this day he is committed to never allowing those first efforts to reach public eyes.

After spending a decade in Canada learning what ‘cold’ really means, and being horrified by poutine, he settled once again in the UK with a seemingly endless horde of children.

To date he is the author of five novels, drawing on a foundation of literary
influences ranging from David Eddings to Clive Barker.

Website: https://grahamaustin-king.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrayAustin

Dragma’s Keep [Book Review]

2021, Book Reviews, By Year

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It’s been a year (and then some) since my last fantasy book (looking at my 2020 Goodreads challenge, the closest I came to fantasy were probably a sci-fi and a steampunk book).

And then Booktasters contacted and connected me with Vance Pumphrey and so…let’s raise a mug to the first fantasy book I’ve read (let alone reviewed) in over a year! HOOHAA!

Thank you to Booktasters and Vance Pumphrey for letting me read a free copy of this book. All opinions are fair, honest, and are my own.

Book Name: Dragma’s Keep
Author: Vance Pumphrey
Series: Valdaar’s Fist Book: 1
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle (EPUB converted to MOBI)
Pages: 348 (Kindle), 276 (Paperback)
Genre: Fantasy > Dungeons & Dragon

Goodreads Blurb:

Valdaar’s Fist. Forged by mortals. Enchanted by Drow. Wielded by a god. Lost by man. Or was it?
A band of unlikely adventurers embark upon an epic quest in this first book in a four-part series, battling minotaurs, demons, orcs, and wraiths—and occasionally themselves.
Surely they must prevail…because the very balance of power in the land requires it.
In Dragma’s Keep, Vance Pumphrey weaves a lyrical and magical tapestry that sets the stage and whets the appetite for the next adventurous fantasies that comprise his Valdaar’s Fist series.
Vance Pumphrey traces the evolution of his high fantasy novels from his Nuclear Engineering career in the U.S. Navy—not an obvious leap. He started playing Dungeons and Dragons in the Navy, though, and the inspiration for Dragma’s Keep was born.
Dragma’s Keep is the first in the Valdaar’s Fist quartet. A second series follows soon.
Retired from the Navy, Pumphrey lives in Seattle with his wife of thirty-plus years.
To find out when the next Valdaar’s Fist book will be released, check out VancePumphrey.com.

Thoughts and Opinions:

At the time I picked this book, I was (still am) obsessed with Vindictus, a MMORPG. I spent the last two-ish years on Dragon’s Dogma, and most of my life playing and following the Fire Emblem series. Fantasy games are still very fresh in my mind and thus, of course, along with the craving for books emulating the feelings I get from playing them. To be able to get all of that on paper had me over the moon.

The inspiration for Dragma’s Keep came from Dungeons and Dragons and while I’ve never participated in a session, some of my friends do and so it’s not too foreign to me. Nevertheless, any references I make in this review will end up referencing fantasy games because that’s what I’m more familiar with.

Writing Style

As the book version of the annoying movie watching commentator, there were a handful of things that came to mind when reading the book, starting with the language and writing style. There’s nothing that’s grammatically incorrect or misspelled (not that I see) and the language is a lot like some of the other fantasies I’ve read (a bit leaning towards Middle Age/Medieval rather than modern English in maybe something like an urban fantasy).

Phrases like “fly true” and “yet live” more than peppers the book. However, I had no issues digesting what I was reading. Which is pretty swell considering how often I tend to scrunch my brows and reread (over and over) pages in fantasies because I’m trying to figure out what the sentence is trying to say! Here, there was no need for my brain to dance around the same paragraph. Everything was easy to read and easy to follow.

The dialogue is golden. I could complain all I want about how I was starting to get annoyed with all the bickering over pointless things, but if a parent can handle their kids screaming at each other, I can handle these characters. There’s humor everywhere, mostly in the dialogues, and the interaction between characters was eye rollingly annoying sometimes… but it grows on you and their little fights becomes part of the group’s charm.

Characters

The team is a pretty diverse party in terms of age (?), gender and race (with the exception that there’s only 1 female and she’s a healer. I play a female axe wielder in games and look forward to the day I see that on paper😉). It’s fun to acknowledge the group as a party versus a “team” because we’re talking about a DnD styled setting and world here! I enjoy all of the characters, some more than others. 

There is Sordaak, a slight framed mage hidden under his voluminous robe who has the temper of a dragon woken up too early from his slumber. He’s snappy. I’m talking about “Don’t talk to me unless my coffee is in” snappy. But that’s not to say the rest of the group isn’t a bit snappish themselves! There are times where I rolled my eyes because “Oh boy, another petty argument”.

But…I guess being a little overly snappish isn’t the worst thing that could happen amongst a band of strangers that just met like a day or week ago. And in their dungeon situation where you’re walking into battle after battle with minimal rest in between, I guess it’s excused. Team dynamics of “siblings fight but still protect each other’s back (with their own lives)” ya know?

Sordaak meets a thief named Savinhands (Savin or “Thumbs”) who insists he’s a rogue and not just a mere thief. He’s also a cinnamon roll who needs to be protected because he’s precious. Handy with his lockpicking skills, he’s more resilient than any thief I’ve ever played.

There is also Thrinndor (occasionally “Thrinn”) who is a fighter (Paladin) and his buddy, a dwarf named Vorgath Shieldsunder, “son of Morroth of the Dragaar Clan of the Silver Hill” (say that fast 5 times). And then lastly, in comes Cyrillis, a cleric who isn’t afraid to dish out a few blows, herself. Anyone playing Fire Emblem knows that clerics don’t generally enter the fight meaning she’s like gold to the team. A cleric that doesn’t need a body guard 24/7? I’ll take it! Her tongue and glares work just as well as her staff towards enemy and friends alike.

Party Dynamics

The party dynamic is interesting.

These people are total strangers to one another (save for Thrinn and Vorgath who do have a bit of history).

(*Inhale*) Sordaak meets Savin when the latter was gambling at a local tavern and through some circumstances stemming from Sordaak’s part, the two end up high tailing out of town together and eventually manage to convince a hell-bent-on-killing-them paladin to join them on a little adventure (in exchange for their lives) so our little paly agrees, roping in his dwarf buddy to join in on the fun and the four merrily go off, bumping into and aiding a sister in need of help who becomes the team’s healer. (*Exhale*)

Sounds DnD and game-like enough to have such a diverse party of people just thrown together for the sake of treasure and adventuring, right? The team’s faith is different in the beginning too (faith here plays a HUUGE role) There’s borderline atheism, there are people who follow Praxaar and then those that follow Valdaar. Yet, merely a few pages in, they go from strangers to I will protect my party members’ life with my own if it needs be. While sure, the party’s health is a necessity for your own survival, the end goal was treasure and deep friendship wasn’t something I really expected (not complaining). There’s tension. There’s bickering. There’s poking fun. But it’s all in a merry way and nobody holds grudges against one another. Again. They met like a week or two ago by the time they started their adventure. They’re now stuck with each other, like it or not. Might as well make the best of it, yeah?

The lore is pretty nice too. It’s consistent, it’s everywhere, and plays a massive part in the plot. (IIRC) Praxaar and his twin brother Valdaar are (were) Dwarves before they became Gods. The introduction chapter gives you a quick background to the lore and is written as if it was an old historical tome. The impressions from that chapter are a bit warped because history is written by the victor, which is honestly really neat. You’ll find out why later. 

Pacing

The pace of the book is quick. It’s so fast you could hear the NASCAR vehicles slowing down next to you. We have a mage who bumps into a thief who runs away together and bumps into a paladin, who has a buddy who’s a dwarf, and the four go adventuring for a secret (and rumored to be long gone) keep in the middle of bloody nowhere that holds treasure. They bump into a cleric and they do a whhhollee lot of fighting and reach the big bad boss. It’s a single dungeon run with multiple mini bosses, individual area skirmishes, that leads up to the final boss that ends the one dungeon run. Pumphrey loves his action. It’s no DnD and RPG game without the constant swinging of swords. There’s so much fighting that even the cleric and mage runs out of spell “juice” and need a bit of recharge before moving on.

Action? No shortage of it. Promise!

And no one is invincible! I fear for this party’s brain cells for the amount of times someone has been knocked unconscious. The meat-shields (as Sordaak affectionately calls the Paladin and Berserker) can dish out a beating and can take it too, but it doesn’t prevent them from being overwhelmed. Mages can friendly fire themselves and their teammates with area of effect (AoE) spells (I never thought I’d see those words outside a game).

There are occasionally info dumps. I’m not usually a fan of info dumps and there was literally an entire chapter where everyone just dumped their backstories with each other “let’s sit in a circle and share something about yourself, first day of school” style. Not my thing but I was pretty amused by it since even Vorgath himself 4th walled the situation (just a bit) by calling Sordaak a “wordy sumbitch.”

Overall Thoughts:

I’ll be thinking about this one for days. It just tickled me in all the right places. Sure, I’ve never played DnD myself, but the writing style and plot was close enough to all the fantasy games I play that most of everything was relatable anyways. There are certain creatures I had to look up like Sordaak’s familiar (a quasit), but being that it was based on and inspired by what already exists, it was really nice to know a visual is only a Google search away!

I quite enjoyed the pace. It’s a dungeon crawl, albeit a longer dungeon with multiple battles. Yet, at the end of the day, it was a single dungeon so the adventure was sadly quickly over. Fear not! It’s only book one and the group intends to continue to travel together because that’s what a good party does. I was elated every single time I came across any gaming term. I loved the group dynamic and humor. I slightly anticipated the ending, but it was written well enough to incite strong emotions in me (a knotted stomach twisty kind of uncertainty…but not fear!)

I loved this book and when I set aside a little more time in my schedule, I truly can’t wait to continue adventuring with this gang of random people thrown together by fate. If you like fantasy gaming or Dungeons and Dragons (the latter especially as it inspired the book), I definitely recommend giving this book and series a try. 

Language & Writing Style: Fantasy and Medieval style of language though it is easy to digest and easy to read. You don’t know how much relief that brings me. I tend to get stuck rereading and not understanding when text is too flowery. Occasional info dump. Terms like AoE (area of effect) and meat-shield tickled me because I never thought I’d ever see those words outside of gaming let alone in a book!

Dialogue is golden and a huge part of why I enjoyed the book.

The Characters & Party Dynamic: The characters are likeable but occasionally got on my nerves how much they bickered over very petty and pointless things. Just minor things that kick up upon traveling and constantly nearly dying together. I think it’s this mix of love-hate feeling that I have towards their fighting that makes it fun and impressionable. There’s a paladin, mage, thief, and healer (all humans) and a berserker (dwarf). Diverse in gender (though there’s only 1 female), fighting class, age, and race/species, they make for an odd but very fantasy RPG fitting group.

Everyone’s spirit animal here is a snapping turtle.

Pace: Fast. It’s a single dungeon crawl with multiple skirmishes and mini bosses that leads to a final boss. There’s plenty (I mean PLENTY) of fight scenes to enjoy. 

There’s no shortage of action scenes.

Quotes:

“Yeah, well,” began the mage. “Occasionally those of us of superior intellect—”
“But—” interrupted Vorgath.
“Zip it, meat shield!” snapped the caster.

“That staff,” explained the dwarf. “If she were to smack me in the nuts like that with that thing, they’d rattle around down there for a week!”

“Thieves do not trust thieves,” he said. “Especially those within our own guild.”

5 Stars

Top 3 Favs: John Sandford Books

Tea Corner (Blog)

Today, John Sandford’s latest Prey book is released! I love his Virgil Flowers books and have been getting into the Prey series as well. All of his books gets my blood pumping, but whenever I see Virgil and Lucas Davenport working together, I know I can expect a kickass time. To say I’m excited is an understatement.

It publishes the day before my birthday. I took that as a sign (not that I ever need an excuse to buy any of Sandford’s books). So. Of course. I pre-ordered the signed hardcover edition 🤭 (Believe it or not, this is my first book pre-order ever).

As I anxiously wait for my copy to arrive in the mail, I figured we could celebrate with a nice big mug of my favorite tea and a top 3 post!

Each book is what I like to describe as “case by case” so they could be read individually, but reading in order does help with watching the characters develop (both in themselves and their relationships with others).

However, the way I was thrown into the mystery thrillers world was actually by discovering stray books in library sales or library “FREE! Take me home” carts. None of my mystery thriller books are in order, regardless of series.

So of the 10 random John Sandford books I’ve read here are my top three favorite ones!

Shock Wave (Book 5 of the Virgil Flowers Series)

Goodreads Summary:

A thrilling Virgil Flowers novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author, John Sandford.

Talk about risky business.

The superstore chain PyeMart has its sights set on a Minnesota river town, but two very angry groups want to stop it: the local merchants fearing for their businesses, and the environmentalists predicting ecological disaster. The protests don’t seem to be slowing the project down though, until someone decides to take matters into his own hands.

The first bomb goes off on the top floor of PyeMart’s headquarters in Michigan. The second one explodes at the construction site itself. The blasts are meant to inflict maximum damage – and they do.

Who’s behind the bombs and how far will they go? It’s Virgil Flowers’s job to find out . . . before more people get killed.


If I had to pick 1 top favorite Virgil Flowers book, it’d be Shock Wave. While each book never fails me in terms of blood rushing thrills, this one seemed to have a ticking bomb in the background…literally. The opening chapter will have you gripping the book with the very first victims of the bomber. It’s gruesome. It’s terrifying. And…the clock is ticking.

But I always have a bias towards my “firsts.” Shock Wave is actually the very first John Sandford book I ever picked up. (IIRC) It was one of those bestsellers on sale in front of Barnes & Nobles (before they go off the physical shelves). I have a bit of a pet peeve about getting into a series without at least reading the very first book, so I ended up reading Dark of the Moon first, but Shock Wave holds a special place in my heart.

Half the reason is because the book was so good and the ending was amazing, but the other half is because without Shock Wave, I would’ve never known about John Sandford!

Field of Prey (Book 24 of the Prey Series)

Goodreads Summary:

The night after the fourth of July, Layton Carlson Jr., of Red Wing, Minnesota, finally got lucky. And unlucky.

He’d picked the perfect spot to lose his virginity to his girlfriend, an abandoned farmyard in the middle of cornfields: nice, private, and quiet. The only problem was . . . something smelled bad—like, really bad. He mentioned it to a county deputy he knew, and when the cop took a look, he found a body stuffed down a cistern. And then another, and another.

By the time Lucas Davenport was called in, the police were up to fifteen bodies and counting. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, when Lucas began to investigate, he made some disturbing discoveries of his own. The victims had been killed over a great many years, one every summer, regular as clockwork. How could this have happened without anybody noticing?

Because one thing was for sure: the killer had to live close by. He was probably even someone they saw every day. . . .


This book is the first John Sandford book I read and reviewed after I started Cozy with Books. [I think] I picked this one (and its accompanying buddy “Buried Prey”) up in my college’s “free books” cart the last months before I graduated. I’m not entirely sure…how they came into my possession otherwise 😅 but they came home together.

Sandford tends to show us the antagonists early in his books via their own POV chapters, this one was no different. The first chapter already exposes who they are (name and all), though not enough about them to fully reveal their true nature (jobs, relationship with townfolks, etc). The chapter that opens with Davenport is where he gets called in to investigate a cistern full of female human remains…with most of them old…

With some of the bodies identified as women who only recently went missing, it was possible that the killer is still alive…and is someone they might have passed by and saw daily.

-“like excavating ten feet of cold bean soup. She says there might be four feet of bones at the bottom.”

Dark of the Moon (Book 1 of the Virgil Flowers Series)

Goodreads Summary:

Virgil Flowers — tall, lean, late thirties, three times divorced, hair way too long for a cop’s — had kicked around a while before joining the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. First it was the army and the military police, then the police in St. Paul, and finally Lucas Davenport had brought him into the BCA, promising him, “We’ll only give you the hard stuff.” He’d been doing the hard stuff for three years now — but never anything like this.

In the small town of Bluestem, where everybody knows everybody, a house way up on a ridge explodes into flames, its owner, a man named Judd, trapped inside. There is a lot of reason to hate him, Flowers discovers. Years ago, Judd had perpetrated a scam that’d driven a lot of local farmers out of business, even to suicide. There are also rumors swirling around: of some very dicey activities with other men’s wives, of involvement with some nutcase religious guy, and of an out-of-wedlock daughter. In fact, Flowers concludes, you’d probably have to dig around to find a person who didn’t despise him.

And that wasn’t even the reason Flowers had come to Bluestem. Three weeks before, there’d been another murder — two, in fact, a doctor and his wife. The doctor was found propped up in his backyard, both eyes shot out. There hadn’t been a murder in Bluestem in years — and now, suddenly, three? Flowers knows two things: this wasn’t a coincidence, and this had to be personal.

But just how personal is something even he doesn’t realize, and may not find out until too late. Because the next victim… may be himself.


And finally…the very first John Sandford book I ever read. It belongs on the list because it was the book that got me into all of this. If Shock Wave is the reason I noticed the series, then Dark of the Moon is the reason I stayed.

It’s the book that gets the reader introduced to this new character of John’s; a tall, lean, late thirties, three times divorced, hair way too long for a cop’s, charming man who investigates a string of killings following a case where a (very hated old man’s) house explodes in a giant fire ball out in the ridge. The writing and dialogue kept me turning and the ending had my jaws dropping.


Happy Publication Day, Ocean Prey! I can’t wait to read you too😍