Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Case of the Exploding Speakeasy by David E. Fessen

author David E. Fessenden
published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

This book was a welcome surprise to me, featuring some familiar names if you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes. It's like Sherlock Holmes rebooted! Such fun, and such competition! The mystery of the exploding speakeasy seems to have become a guessing game to the public. Three men have joined together to solve the mystery and are all living in the same house: Mycroft Holmes (brother to Sherlock), Thomas Watson, a newspaper reporter and son of Dr. Watson, biographer of Sherlock and the butler, Basil Meridan, who is now out of a job and apparently into a new one serving this group. One might say this unusual crew sharing a crowded apartment makes for strange bedfellows.

Beginning with a disaster of unknown cause, four men begin to put their heads to an explosion that doesn't appear to really be what it seems. But let's get back to our room-mates for a bit. When the explosion occurs, we learn some identities of those who were safely out of the room. An English butler, Mr. Watson, and at home, who should arrive but Mr. Holmes, Mycroft Holmes! Who else should turn up, and why? How exciting to have Sherlock Holmes' legacy arrive on your doorstep! They didn't arrive all at once but almost, not quite, prearranged or maybe I could say predestined. Did you love the Sherlock Holmes adventures when you were young? This is definitely up your alley. Just a start but sure feels like more to come. And of course, "Times They Are A-Changing. So take it with a little tongue in cheek, maybe a quarter dose since we don't want problems. Now on with the show! I truly enjoyed this merry mixed group working out the clues, I am so glad I came across this book, a good mystery and a fascinating one.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Hydrofoil Mystery by Eric Walters

written by Eric Walters
 published by Puffin Canada
1st published 1999 Reissued 2018

A fascinating YA mystery the basis of which comes from the actual invention and historic bites of interest from WWI, I found the book very well-defined in its time-frame and place, Halifax, Nova Scotia, with WWI German submarines attacking the east coast of North America, lack of money, lack of entertainment for teens; no wonder people were desperate for both money and entertainment. Thus we find our young hero, Billy McCracken, not so much a hero at this point, he is getting in with the "wrong" crowds and his mother is in a quandry. This boy has a lot of anger buried and possibly doesn't even realize it, but more than that he is gambling and smoking, neither a particularly a healthy life.

Through some interesting maneuvers he finds himself sent off to work for Alexander Graham Bell. He has no idea of how his life might change. This is where the book became very interesting to me. Aside from Bell being an inventor and teacher of so many things, he becomes a real friend to Billy, who he insists on calling William McCracken. Alexander Graham Bell invented the first hydrofoil boat in 1911, intended to resist enemy submarines reaching/attacking the east coast. This I found fascinating. I believe young teens will find this interesting and older teens will be drawn to the technical side, but also what happens when the war and early technology clash. Billy becomes very interested in this machine that is so amazing. When danger lurks, he and others working with Bell are ready and willing to save the ship from attack. I thought the book had a lot going for it and in it. The lives if people in the Maritimes, the inventions and the well-written inventor, the technology, Bell's "lessons" to help young people. Altogether it makes for good reading.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Hidden Village: A Story of Survival in WW2 Holland by Imogen Matthews

 author Imogene Matthews
 published by Amsterdam Publishing
Reviewed from Kindle

This is a book that truly has a strong message
This is a book that truly has a strong message and imparts some very important safety measures, especially for the children. Depending on the reader's awareness of WWII, it is a difficult story and yet made me follow the people involved, really drew me. While I say it is a difficult story, it is even more a very well-written story that encompasses several years, several lives, and a Hidden Village. Now that is very interesting and I loved the story-line, the closeness of the village, the historic significance. I read this whole book without stopping, it grabbed me so much. Was there a real "Hidden Village"? I honestly don't know but I have suspicions of a sort. There have been signs of it. The people are the main focus, because this was the way a community came together and lived and watched out for each other, and protected the Jewish families and in many cases just the children.

Even today the world reverberates with loss and fear, lost dreams and lost family. Sometimes it seems that every generation has a war and it starts all over again. Generation after generation. But this is a story that is innovative, careful, frightened yes, but they are making plans, they are refusing to simply be victims and nor do they leave these people to what is absolute slaughter. I really found this not only an interesting read, but grew up feeling for many of the innocents and those who lost their lives. WWII is a history not forgotten.

The fascination comes mostly with how the Dutch were able to hide so many in some very small places. If indeed the Hidden Village is/was real, it operates in this book as a community living as normal as possible, while being very careful. The Village is not seen easily, thanks to the heavily wooded area surrounding it. But most people know if they go into the woods, they are not as quiet as one might think. Sometimes a twig snaps, sometimes a bird stops in mid-song. But back to the German searches through the community, did they ever find the Hidden part? When refugees are taken in to the village homes the transition is pretty smooth but the need for so many spaces increases constantly. Closets, attics, under floors, small spaces. This book is based on a village in Holland of which some signs have been found. I would say this historical fiction is closer to fact than originally thought. Those who have read Corrie Ten Boom and Anne Frank will remember they were hidden in this way.

There are several times that there are near misses of the villagers getting caught. Finding an English pilot once and an American pilot later, both in the woods, shows how chancy any outdoor activity is. How they managed to get the glaring white 'chutes out of the dark forest fast enough for them not to be found amazes me. But life goes on and on, and for probably years the Hidden Village was not found. My thanks to Imogene Matthews for the courage, insight, endurance, and the ability to see things that may or may not have been there and interpreted it all into a polished and fascinating piece of historic value. This is the best I have read in this genre.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Deal Gone Dead: A Lily Sprayberry Realtor Book 1 by Carolyn Ridder Aspension

written by Carolyn Ridder Aspension
reviewed from Kindle

Round and round the suspects do go, when they will stop no one will know 
Is there a sale on cast-iron skillets in town? They seem to appear with a bit of regularity in this book. Unfortunately, no one is cooking with them. What's a realtor to do when she finds her client dead from a blow to the head, a death by cast-iron skillet! Myrtle Mae Redbecker may be difficult, but who would do anything remotely like this to an elderly woman, the elderly woman you have an appointment for morning coffee with?

Lily, stuck with a childhood nickname of Lillibit, finds the news gets around faster than she could possibly guess, being that all she did was look out in front of the house only to see a large group of Myrtle Mae's neighbors gathered already! Who sounded the alert? or, being a small town, who rounded up citizens in siren vehicles. I'm from a small town but the only time we would hear that is to announce lunch hour at noon. Then again, Myrtle wasn't the favorite of the block but curiosity will win out every time no matter the draw. Yes, there is something about small towns or counties that seem to be able to pass news faster than the telegraph, and in this case one of the fastest is Lily's old beau from college, her ex-boyfriend, now County Sheriff Dylan. With the arrival at Myrtle's home of her great-nephew Jesse, craziness is compounded. Sheriff Dylan is checking the house and body out, Lily is trying to keep Jesse out of the house until given the all-clear.

In the meantime, what will happen with the sale of Myrtle Mae's property, the reason why Lily had come to the house, other than coffee, in the first place. Finding her dead is certainly going to complicate things, since there are three bidders, one to be accepted this morning. The reason for getting together with Myrtle that morning was that she had made a decision on which buyer she wanted.

I love these Southern cozy mysteries! Well crafted, yet a veritable verbal pile-up. You never know what direction they're going to go. As it happens, the sale is for the property, and Jesse has no claim on the property which Myrtle had put in a trust. Are big developers going to be changing property in the area into condos, tearing down history? But wait!! Who is putting holes in the walls and floor of the attic? Why? When? How? So much to look into, but what I love about this book is the mysteries, who is doing what where and why? Surprisingly, the answers are not all that forthcoming, there are more mysteries yet to add to this story, some long-standing.  Carolyn Ridder Aspension, for a small town this story has plenty to say--I really enjoyed reading it, suspense, mystery, and all the knotted threads to unravel. Questionable property lines may throw a shovel in the mix ending the sale, since there seems to be an extra shovel by the window most days. There seem to be several thoughts on who has a right to the property, what property is being questioned, many secrets and as many secret missions to solve them. And then there's the long history of the "hidden money" story. This book was funny, sad, different and enjoyable. I leave the final outcomes, discovery and enjoyment for other readers to visit unspoiled and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Death by a Honeybee (a Josiah Reynolds Mystery #1) by Abigail Keam

author  Abigail Keam
review based on Kindle

 I really enjoyed this book by Abigail Keam , sharp, witty, and dedicated to her bees; as a former beekeeper, I also not only self-involved into the mystery of the death of this beekeeper, but also learned some new things I didn't know before. With such a shocking death, one might wonder how in the world anyone will be able to get to the bottom of this crime, if, indeed, it is a crime. I loved the character of Josiah and also of Matt the upcoming lawyer, his partner Franklin provided a combination of humor and good advice. Not so much the unhelpful Taffy and Nancy. But back to the bees. Who killed Richard Pidgeon? Or was it an accident, a heart attack? There are so many angry honeybees around him who would be able to tell. Nothing will calm them for some time.

Josiah, owner of this land and a most vigilant beekeeper, has not been lucky in love. She also seems to be thrown into chaos of the wealthy kind, she has it (mostly when married to Barron), then she doesn't (mostly when he married #2 wife). Of course this probably has more to do with her losses with her lawyer fees and other similar matters trying to keep on top of arrest for this crime she didn't commit. Though she loves the home her husband Brannon had built, when they came to a place in their lives when their interests drifted apart, divorce reared its ugly head yet she reveals that she never had closure, and then he died leaving behind his first wife Josiah and daughter, he leaves little else, which may be causing someone they knew, or maybe #2 wife simmering with the idea he was been murdered and by Josiah? Life in this town is like a chess game!

There are a lot of characters in this book, and each has a reason to be included. Everyone from "Daffy" Taffy to Officer O'nan, a vindictive piece of work. Every year there is a honey competition at the Farmers' Market and there appears to be a very tight race between Richard and Josiah to win in previous years, casting suspicion on Josiah, especially since the very dead Richard was found in one of her hives. Definitely a quirky murder, if that is what it is, but why at Josiah's? Now Josiah is the number one suspect for the murder of Richard, this before murder has yet to be proven. What Josiah learns is that everyone has suspicions, and she won't be allowed to communicate with her friends and others in town until her name is cleared. The more I read the more there appeared to be issues between people, but also others appear to be strong and honest. It's a complicated town, though a portion of the population seems to be well-off financially, others are in need, and of course there are the renowned Kentucky horses to also make you either rich or poor. It's curious how much transferring of funds and/or properties goes on in this town, and why? There also seems to be a number of people with allergies: asthma, bee stings, (maybe that famous bluegrass of Kentucky causes Josiah's breathing problems?)

I gained so many memories with the movie game that Josiah & Matt played often, sometimes joined with Franklin it was so much fun. Old movie quotes from old stars and even a dance taken from Dick Clark's TV Dance show in the late '50s and '60s. If you like movies and stars from either side of the 1940s, you'll enjoy all these references (maybe even play along), I did. This book was an unexpected pleasure to read, even with the deaths. I love new discoveries! I enjoyed every minute! Thank you Abigail Keam for an enjoyable reading day!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Dying Words (A Ghostwriter Mystery #4) by C.A. Larmer

author C.A.Larmer
reviewed from Kindle

This is the first book by C.A. Larmer I've read and it was certainly entertaining and mysterious. Roxy is a ghostwriter and she has recently finished up with a photo to insert in the more or less textbook/memoir she has been working on for billionaire Sir Wolfgang Bergman. Surprisingly, the photo almost takes on a life of its own. What can possibly be so important or so damaging in that photo to be such a contentious issue. Sure, everyone seems to be looking at something or someone else, but why? Is the photo revealing something that Bernie is so desperately trying to convey to the family with his dying words with ""?

Roxy has her hands full with trying to help Bernie's daughter Sondra who certainly is very focused on what she imagines must be a fortune. Finding a copy of the photo and studying it tells them nothing of importance, and therein lies the mystery. This is a mystery that no one wants to talk about, a mystery that seems to turn around every time Roxy gets close, but Bernie's daughter is definitely not going to give up, not at all! Even as the people in the photo begin dying off or are killed off. Roxy, with her good friend Gilda, a policewoman, make no headway. They figure Sir Wolfgang has the answer, and maybe he does, at least part of it. The mysteries will take you down the garden path, so to speak, but so much happened in Indonesia with the survey group that nothing seems clear. Clearly, everyone knew something about this mystery, but with all the deaths and murders, no one seems to know it all. This was a good mystery, one that didn't want to be solved, and I really enjoyed the book.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Unsent Letters by Daralyse Lyons

author Daralyse Lyons
published e-book by Imajin Books (2018)

This book is probably the closest to a true love story as I've ever read.
Strangely, parts of it are very close to my own life and I'm sure other romantics would feel the same way. I wonder how many readers will have  been through some of this story themselves; the love and passion alive and finally getting themselves where they needed to be. This book is amazing! To me, it felt very real, the discovery by family members of the letters that tell the story. It is a beautiful love story, never independently known, but the flow was wonderful. It took a bit of focus at times to realize again that these letters were never sent, beautiful as they were. A whole lifetime of wonderful, loving letters. I thought the premise was insightful and well-thought out. It reminded me of the letters my mother still has from WWII between herself and my dad. I remember her condensing them into a complete story for the 5 of us, me and my brothers, leaving out the "personal" parts. Now after reading Unsent Letters, I can only think of them like the letters never sent.

Daralyse Lyons has given us a book that is personal, thoughtful, filled with love and hope. I was gripped by it, read right through to 3:30 a.m. and even reread some parts. I think the story is remarkable in its continuity and honesty. I am so thankful for the connection of the family/families, especially considering other familial changes and understanding. Honest and real. A true love story.