Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Tough Case to Crack (A Nuts About Nuts Cozy Mystery Book 1) by Cindy Bell

author Cindy Bell
review from e-reader

Got to keep an eye on that squirrel, he's a smart one!
There's a newbie in town and she's about to turn the quiet town upside down; or at least what she finds while renovating the shop she just bought just might. With lots of work to do in a limited time, Kerri Gale is ready to put in a hand or two to help the people she hired with the workload. Unfortunately, this almost took the head of the news reporter Steve Newis when a slip of the crowbar sent a board flying in Steve's direction when she took a crowbar to the next floorboard.

An interview for the press could help her get known when her shop opens for business, but among things to be done first is replace the floorboards. Some introduction! But Steve has other things in his mind, like getting to know the new girl in town on perhaps a bit of a personal level. On the business side, the reader learns quite a bit about Kerrie, but also some of the town history as well as the history of the store, good and bad. Let's hope she doesn't get nightmares knowing a murder was committed there, but a long time ago. Who killed Len? Why wasn't he killed in the shop, but at home? Some ties just don't fit.

What is that horrible buzz coming from the shop? Kerri brought Harry breakfast but he can't hear over the saw, neither can she, and no wonder, the saw is running but Harry is dead. What possible reason could there be for Harry to be murdered, for murdered he is, with the saw cord wrapped around his throat. When will this all end?

A find will make her nervous, a visit from police will make her angry and slow her down. From what she has heard there is little interest in most that goes down in this town as far as the police are concerned. They are having trouble connecting the previous owner with a crime, nor was the break-in at his house particularly noted. A messy little clean-up job in both places, both involving broken glass, at two vastly different times. Hmm. Would that be coincidence? What are the police doing about any of it?

Next, Kerri gets home to what appears to be an unlocked house, though she knows she locked it. Is Cashew, her dog, alright? Surprise! The visitor is her grandfather, who always has secrets, but is a lot of fun. At least he has made dinner. Does he know about the money? Is he another person who seems to know too much about what has happened. What a surprise to learn her grandfather is moving to town. He has always seemed mysterious and fun to be with.

If the day weren't nutty enough, a squirrel has just grabbed a large bag of Kerri's nuts from her shop, which will be named Nuts About Nuts. Got to keep an eye on that squirrel, he's a smart one! By now, everyone seems to be jumping in the fray...except the police. Her handyman, the newspaper reporter, her grandfather...What's with her grandfather, anyway? Whatever he is or was, he is now retired, isn't he?

Next on the agenda, solve a crime. Nine o-clock and all appears to be well, for a house-breaking. In the meantime, Kerri has something else up her sleeve. There are twists and turns in the latter part of the book, how could there not be with so many people in the mix? Two wonderful recipes also included.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

UnCommon Origins: A Collection of Gods, Monsters, Nature and Science (UnCommon Anthology Book 2)

collected by P.K. Tyler
reviewed from e-reader

UnCommon Origins, how completely this describes this rare mix anthology. Several very short stories that can blow your mind, others that are just weird, and others seem based on some normalcy until you reach the crux. One war story caught me off guard because I'm sure I have heard of the making of the product before, I think it could be truth.

I liked the summaries given at the beginning of each new story. These macabre stories are certainly versatile, not alike in any form except to suspend belief. Differing in such a way as to make the reader want to carry on.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Blood Orchids (Lei Crime Book 1)

author Toby Neal
reviewed from e-reader

A unique story, not easily categorized. Neither completely cozy nor completely hard-boiled, but a passionate tale of a child with a stolen childhood who is struggling to be a strong woman in the worst of circumstances. That said, I really enjoyed the book for all its changes in Lei's life. Taking place in Hawaii, Lei is a police officer seeking a better position to allow her to do the job she knows she can do...if only her past horrors would leave her mind alone.

A woman who is obviously full of fun when she is not feeling overwhelmed, part of her future with the police relies on her appointments with a psychiatrist. I feel they are a pretty good match, both unusual but able to recognize the whole person each is. I enjoyed their meetings. Then there is romance, a 'will she won't she' type of thing due to her terrorized past. It's a little confusing as to who has had the most horrific past. I think my favourite character is Lei's rottweiler, super guard dog. In fact, I really liked the early characters in the book. On the other hand, working in crime, Lei finds herself at the mercy of stalkers, murderers and pedophiles, if not related to her past, she finds them in her cases, and eventually in her present.

The real suspense begins about the middle of the story after the preset of the book. Scenes from her past overlap current scenes, the connection she could and should have with Stephens is overwhelmed by her fears, he fears for her life with the chances she takes, but he seems to understand why she takes them. I really liked this, the first in the Lei Crime series, with so much going on, it is interesting what I did manage to glean from the story. Different, but in a pretty good way. Past history in Lei's life plays a role of its own, but she appears to be overcoming much of the past by the end and looking forward to a better future. I think Toby Neal is onto a solid series and look forward to more.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Policewoman

author Justin W.M. Roberts
reviewed from e-reader

If you can follow different languages, dialects, and/or accents you may learn a lot of sayings which can add to the enjoyment of this book; if you like action, blood and guts as well, you'll find it in spades in this book. The story begins with a shocking scenario. But then, what can one expect from a war against drug cartels which are waging war as narcoterrorism? Expect the unexpected.

Author Justin WM Roberts has obviously done a tremendous amount of research to cover such distinctly different countries, jurisdictions and dialects, especially as this story takes place in the near future (2026) and mainly in three countries, Indonesia, Britain and Ireland, hence the need to understand the dialects and languages. The speed of various actions is enough to take your breath away. This is high stakes war on the cartels, and never seems to stop for a breather. Even the training is extreme. People are seconded from one jurisdiction to another in constant motion. The book starts in Indonesia, with the main character Sarah, Chief of Security in the police force POLDA Metro Jaya. Sarah is a strong, athletic woman, a person who will fight with everything she has to crush the growing drug problem wherever it is manufactured and sold. The cartels have grown exponentially in several countries, narcoterrorism. She has been seconded to Britain and is at the airport ready to board, not realizing she has just passed an enemy coming from the UK to Indonesia. Sarah's older brother Tony is also a major player with the Indonesian Air Force, currently against the Indonesian Cartel. Both are deeply invested in their work.

This battle between the various forces and the cartels is high speed, extreme action and violent; it rarely seems to stop, but those who have been chosen to fight are highly skilled, highly decorated. There are real people mixed in the story with the assumption that by this time in history Prince William is King, Prince Harry is involved in the fight. I learned a lot of interesting things in this book, quite apart from the deaths and maiming, and surprisingly, for the shock factor and the obvious casualties. I was mesmerized at times, I must have been, because I wasn't putting the book down. I was very interested in the training, the tactics, and the coding. I enjoyed the camaraderie whenever there was time for it. I enjoyed the various dialects and took an interest in working them out from what I already knew. Though the book was necessarily difficult at times, it's no more so than any international war story. Weaponry changes through the decades, accessibility changes, coding changes, body armour changes, threats change, but killing does not change, when you are dead you are dead. Nothing can change that. However, this is not a war between countries. It is a war to end a process, a process that is killing people on its own, especially youth, in this case it's name is MDMA, known as Ecstacy. Exceptional thriller.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Mystic Isle - novella by Patricia Rice

by Patricia Rice
reviewed from e-reader

What do you do when your known world is destroyed?
An earthquake and tsunami, how much can a temple take? Tasia, the new priestess of Aelynn must quickly bring her acolytes together and begin the long trek down shaking stairs, carrying all that is necessary including the chalice which must be held and protected as they descend to the waterfront. With three dozen virgins and equal number or more of children, they are about to embark on one of their two supply ships with no immediate knowledge of adventure or of the male sex. In the meantime, those men have no immediate knowledge of the virgins they have always served from a distance, providing supplies to the temple. As they escape in the two boats the tsunami hits, will they make it to calm waters and find land they can live upon?

Tasia is not your usual priestess. She is a Seer, she has visions, lives by them and protects her acolytes by them. She also has a strong personality and direction. She alone is in tune with Aelynn and follows her direction completely. After a strenuous and terrifying ocean voyage, with the ships becoming separated, they finally take refuge on a fog enshrouded piece of land surrounded by rocks, hidden and visible. Tasia follows her visions and sees their way through to the land beyond the rocks. Is this story fantasy, magical, or drama? Perhaps all three. Immediately disembarking their next concern is the second ship which not only has the rest of their group, but many of the supplies and materials for making the new land livable.

Since the land appears to be habitual, and there is no sign of any people or animals, the group begins to set up shelters and find water. After the second ship is found and brought in, things start to get into some form of order. Tasia sees her visions of what is to come and "speaks" with Aelynn. Horatio tends to the men to keep them busy enough not to get involved with any of the virgins. When Aelynn sends Tasia a special message, difficult to analyze at first, Tasia is not sure if what she was told was correct. This was an interesting story, showing vulnerability, strength, magic, will, and clear thinking, and in the end a surprise.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Memory House: Memory House Collection (Memory House Series Book 1)

by Bette Lee Crosby
reviewed from e-reader

Bette Lee Crosby has a beautiful way of writing. A wonderful story-teller, so imaginative and heart-warming. This story of personal loss and finding a future of life, memories, and happiness is amazing.

After her common-law partner leaves, Annie decides to take a few days off work for a restful holiday without a destination in mind. She finds herself in a small town at a most unusual bed and breakfast. There are only two guestrooms and rarely are both rooms let at once. Ophelia, the owner of the home is warmth and giving personified. It feels as though Annie may have been expected, but how could that be? Ophelia seems to know what Annie needs in life and that she is dealing with sorrow. The friendship between these two blossoms beautifully. Ophelia could  be referred to as a Memory Keeper. Once Annie has seen the way Ophelia can receive memories from inanimate objects, though suspicious about the "how" of it, she very quickly learns that it is her gift, too.

Annie has some difficult decisions to make between her work and her former boyfriend Michael's suspicious advances to get back into her good book. Will she return to her former love? Has he really changed? It almost seems so, but time will tell. There are too many changes happening to know. A change of job, a change of location, a change of lifestyle, though some things never change and others lead to fulfillment. What can Annie do, without a job, expensive apartment rent that she used to split with Michael...until he left. Yet, if she listens to her heart she will easily find the answer; she has a soul mate in Ophelia. Her sheltering, peaceful memories may be just what Annie is waiting for!

Ophelia reminds me so much of my grandmother. When I hold or touch anything that was hers it brings me back through our wonderful times together. Now, maybe I understand, as Annie has begun to. I am consumed with this book. Annie is determined to recall the sound of a child's laughter she heard when holding onto the handlebars of a boy's bicycle that is in Ophelia's shed. As Ophelia explains, the memories choose when to come forward and how much to tell. Sounds strange, doesn't it? But I'm sure many people can retrieve good memories of their own past over time, whether they come in the blink of an eye and forgotten again, or over time a part of their lives. These are personal memories though. The memories Ophelia and Annie are finding are not just their own memories, but memories within items found and therefore glimpses of memories from the people who owned or were attached to the items in the past. Short bits of memory can make themselves known whenever Ophelia or Annie hold these items. But these are past memories of persons they have never known. These memories also choose what and when to be retrieved. Will all memories be good? That remains to be seen.

There are some surprises in store in the latter part of the story. While Annie has moved in and works with Ophelia in the apothecary shop, she is constantly drawn to the bicycle she found. She has now learned from the memories stored in the bicycle two of the boy's names and is seeking to locate this person. In a roundabout classic surprise occurrence. she doesn't meet him but she does become acquainted with his son. A magical tale and a shared blessing at having met, Ophelia herself is feeling very happy; when Christmas arrives it seems love is in the air as well as celebrations and who should happen to turn up for the holiday! On meeting Oliver's family Annie knows already that this is where she belongs. Oh, no, she will not abandon Ophelia, they are more likely to share her in my opinion. The elderly lady still has the will to live until her husband finally comes to bring her home into the light. He tells her the time is yet to come.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Mariah's Song (A Bud Blair Novel Book 4)

by Rod Collins
reviewed from e-reader

Mariah leads a sad and broken life. At thirteen she tries to care for her Mom, a woman seriously addicted to meth. At the same time she is trying to avoid any contact with her mother's live-in boyfriend Manfred or Manny as he was usually refered to, the facilitator of her addiction and a violent man. It's midnight, and she can hear disturbing noises of violence, maybe a beating, maybe a murder near the garage. She sees a man almost lifeless being beaten with a two-by-four on the head by Manny when he hears and sees her and threatens her. From this moment, knowing Manny will come after her as witness and with certainty that he will kill her, she starts running for her life. In the meantime, he tries to drag the man's body and load him into the trunk of his car.

Mariah is a wonderful character, she keeps you glued to the book wondering what she is going to be able to do to excape next. She is very resourceful and manages at one point to conceal herself in the loft space in the back of a trailer-pickup combo when the driver is getting gas and though has no idea where this rig will be going, she feels somewhat safe. She also manages to hand a note to the cashier at the gas & shop station to call 911 and have them go to her address with an ambulance and the police. As I said, resourceful. I loved this book with all its toughness. The interludes of the police who are also friends gone fishing was a great touch. These guys know how to get the best out of the worst, with the passion, the caring, the difficulties of living a normal life. The major head of the snake is more like the hydra, with drug cartels being the heads. This book takes place pretty much from Oregon to Mexico, a lot of land to cover and cover it the characters in this book do. From sheriffs to FBI to our runaway girl and finally to the cartel homes in Alamos, Mexico, the race is on, to find and save Mariah, to keep Amanda from being blown up, to save Mariah's mother, to catch Manny and much more. Also, there is a very good warning that many people don't think about on what can happen with an Amber Alert: Leave it to the police! A young girl who thinks she is helping by keeping people informed of Mariah but publicly saying she has been found could too easily have cost Mariah her life.

This story also created a background for seeing some everyday small town police at their best. A lot of good planning is involved, but at the same time all of them know it could go belly-up in the twitch of a hair or blink of an eye. The same applies to the FBI, NCIS, whatever other government agencies are there to back up or implement, whichever is needed. Mariah's story is terrifying, a thirteen-year old running for her life and yet she has a beautiful soul. With drug cartels involved in other areas but with a crossover due to Manny as a supplier, the tension throughout is steady, with a few of those fishing breaks and friendship breaks, and even then it's not restful, especially with a bomb in the mix. A trip to Mexico puts a definite crimp in the plans to take on a major drug cartel, one of the busiest doing business in the U.S., when another cartel fouls their plans. This is a book that will grab you, shake you up, and not let go. So much can go wrong and some of it does, but that's what keeps us on our toes in life and in this book it really works. I loved it.