Thursday, October 5, 2017

Trell by Dick Lehr

written by Dick Lehr
published by Candlewick Press

Very well and precisely written, having finished this book, all I can say is "Wow!" I am breathless and full of admiration for both the players in the original case upon which this story is based, and even more so this fictional telling of the background of the case, realistic and what feels like the actual case unfolding. Kudos to Dick Lehr for his rendering of this original story, reading it was almost like being there.

This is a story that should be told, and I am glad I was fortunate to be sent a copy in a LibraryThing giveaway. I dived into it immediately and could not put it down, it grabbed me to that extent. Taking place in Boston in the 1980s, a young girl is accidentally shot and killed in what was probably a gang shoot-out. Now in the 21st century, this type of violence is still accidentally killing innocents. How sad that so little has changed. But maybe it has changed, at least by the standards of this book. This story is more about police corruption than what goes on in the streets, or around the world for that matter.

A young girl at the beginning of the book, we follow her very brief visits with her father, who is incarcerated for life without parole for the shooting. Trell and her mother visit him every week, and this is very much a story of family unity and love as it is a corrupt sentencing. As Trell ages from a small child to a young teen, she begins to question the sentencing. From this point the book really takes off. Trell will not accept what has happened and begins searching for what is true and what is not regarding her father's sentencing. She and her mother know he did not do the shooting and was nowhere near when it happened. She resorts to working with a lawyer to learn how law works and to learn how it didn't work for her father. Trell is an exceedingly bright girl, filled with determination. I will not give away any spoiler on how this connection leads to other connections. I leave it that this is an awe-inspiring book, one that grabs you and leads you (and Trell) through the darkness of gang warfare, drug dealing, corruption, but in particular, searching for the truth. I was truly mesmerized by this book. Thank you Dick Lehr and Candlewick Press. This book is deemed suitable for age 12 and up. I would agree with that description. I also believe it could help this age group to realize they can make a difference in the world. Review based on ARC (Advance Reading Copy).

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Murder Is No Accident (A Hidden Springs Mystery #3)

by A.H. Gabhart
published by Revell Books

I have just started this book and already am enjoying it. Is it wrong to enjoy a book that almost begins with a death? I don't think so, having quickly discovered that the author writes with a thread of humor throughout and the death may simply be a deadly accident. This story, which as I mentioned I have just begun, is pulling me in quickly with its small town, cozy but with its fair share of seniors and dementia added to the mix. Old, well-hidden secrets also seem to be woven into everyday life. This is my first book by A.H. Gabart, and I'm looking forward to what will come to light in this quirky town. Mystery, history, dementia, family, faith and secrets seem intertwined with what should have been and what is. Who is in such a hurry to sell the old Chandler house while the owner is still living, though not occupying the house? What does Miss Fonda know, trapped in her mind? Most importantly, who is hiding in the house and searching for what?

Maggie, a young girl who cleans the old house, is terrified; though she finds a dead woman, she did not see her fall, nor how she died. Why does she feel so threatened? But this story is not just about death, fear or possible murder. This is a town of curiosity, longing, and life. A town of close neighbours and caring, yet fear has invaded, love and living put on hold. Hidden Springs, a lovely name, what was a lovely town. Secrets and mystery have taken it over. I love this book! In many ways it is uplifting even in light of the "incidents" that are trying to shake up the townspeople. Are these incidents accidents or murder?

I love the determination of the life of Miss Fonda, with her dementia and the forms it has taken. She is a major focus, for all her confusion. There is always something important if the time is taken to understand it, and what is important to her is home and the deceased sister she believes still lives there. A.H. Gabhart is a gifted writer that makes a story sound and feel real with all its foibles, friendships, caring and grace.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Last Lullaby by Alice Walsh

by Alice Walsh
published by Vagrant Press
imprint of Nimbus Publishing

A heart-rending story of love and loss, placed in Newfoundland. The story begins with professionals that have young children and infants. So many variations on a theme of the difficulty of raising a child, a baby, while working, taking classes or single motherhood. This is an unusual mystery that happens to brings out several difficulties these people often face. Post-partum depression, crib death (SIDS), law, adoption, and suspected homicide. It also brings out what happens when trying to prove innocence when there is little to work with. So many possibilities, but what will be the outcome and how much truth is there in the testimony of witnesses who may or may not have seen something amiss?

This is a very good story with a lot of insight and emotion with an almost confusing number of mothers and infants. It also has many truths that often aren't talked about, but should be. A student gone missing along with her baby, a young woman with little to live on; a professor who is a suspect in the death of her baby; a new mother found murdered; so many crimes but there are many surprises, possibilities and probabilities as well. This may appear to be a strange story to some, but it is in fact a police procedural investigation, with assistance, though not particularly requested, provided by some concerned citizens...professors, psychologists, actors, relatives, friends, with the usual interference and lack of compassion by the press. Who is the blonde woman that shows up around the crime scenes? What is the secret behind the two professors who are keeping a low profile? The outcome of this story was completely unpredictable and shocking. I thought it was well-written and suspenseful, even with a confusing number of babies, and did not put it down until I finished.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Trickster by L.G. Miles and Amy Miles

by L.G. Miles and Amy Miles

A good short story about three older children who find themselves caught in a supernatural struggle they didn't expect. A good story-line children and young teens should enjoy, a tale of curses, ghosts, and hidden spaces. How often young people like to take a dare to prove their loyalty or bravado. The Prologue sets the scene in 1905 for dark magic, goosebumps and things that go bump in the night, not to mention a fabulous dragon staff that is not all it seems. Strange things are happening in the woods at night. What is the hooded man doing with his steel and artifacts? Someone is watching him when he should run for his life.

Jumping to present day, something strange is happening at the museum. The staff has been found and is about to be revealed the next day...or will it? In the meantime, who is playing tricks on the night watchman? Who or what is the Trickster? A school group is scheduled to go on a field trip to the museum the next day, but on the next day the museum has been taped off as a crime scene. What could have happened? Three young people make a deal to visit an old mill with a long history when they learn that the dragon staff is missing and ghosts are believed to be haunting the old mill house, one a ghost clown at that. Will they be able to hide their fears? Will they find the staff or will they be defeated in their attempts to access every part of the house, tunnels and all. Fun and creepy, a good read for kids, and by a young person according to "About the Authors" at the end of the book.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Lady Justice and the Cruise Ship Murders #11 of Lady Justice series

by Robert Thornhill
reviewed on e-reader

A mixture of fun, history and mystery
This is the first book in the series I've read. I wish I'd "met" Robert Thornhill much sooner, since this is the eleventh book in the series. I really enjoyed the camaraderie of the four main characters, with or without their foibles.

How often do we get those scam emails, some sounding more realistic than others? Is the email they've just received real? Is there really a gold cache? With 3 members of the police among the two couples involved, I'm sure they will be checking it out. Though each character is very different, this group of four are pretty likeable. They are also pretty active. A very good thing because they find themselves in some very awkward conditions and difficult predicaments while trying to avoid being killed or maimed.

It's off to Alaska and maybe treasure. Even with a misplaced murder and mystery this foursome made me laugh and think how realistic they are. I certainly enjoyed their trip, especially on the narrow gauge railway. I will definitely want to read more.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Crossing Into the Mystic (The Crossings Trilogy Book 1) by D.L. Koontz

by D.L. Koontz
review from e-reader

An emotional and historical book. Surprising, fascinating, sad yet sometimes fun, too. Following the sudden loss of her family, mother, stepfather and sister, 16 year old Grace comes into a very large inheritance which includes an estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She must live there for three months before it will officially be hers. The house belonged to her stepfather Jack. The only person who seems to be on Grace' side at this point is her cousin Michael, more protective of Grace in this strange family than anyone else. However, he is about to leave for Chile.

His mother is her appointed guardian, and a real piece of work. Aunt Tish has already used Grace's education fund, what will she take next? She is completely overbearing, and obviously a money-grabber, and only allowing Grace to take a trip to her inherited house because she wants it sold immediately if not sooner, and the money in Grace's accounts to which Aunt Tish has the access. It made me want to shake her! Fortunately, her Uncle Phil steps in and approves the trip and she is soon on her way along with her dog Tramp and cat Chubbs, leaving Boston for Williamsport, West Virginia.

Why does everyone seem shocked that she is going to stay in "Crossings", the name of the house? Why didn't the real estate agent or anyone from her company even go inside? Arriving at dusk, her first view of the house is a little off-putting; immense, very old, and in need of a little care, but Jack had built an extension onto the side which was much like a well-fitted apartment, ready and waiting. Jack's oasis. Her memories.

Seriously, I feel this book has it all. "Creepy" house, friendly town, loss, friendship, history, belief in the afterlife, but this is not your usual ghost story, actually pretty far from it, and yet Grace will be more at home there than anyone could have expected. She has the ability, unknown until now, to "see" ghosts. Now she must learn to not let them know she can see them. Her "subtle" vision could cause problems among the spirits of the world. How does one go about this complication? The ghost of the house is an ancestor, and therefore protective. This is a loving and beautiful story that takes the reader from the Civil War to the present. An exciting and very different way at looking at history. There is so much to be discovered in this book, I happily recommend it, with its insights, how the background stories weave throughout the past, but also how the loss of her grandmother brings out the future happiness of Grace even as she still grieves for her family. I absolutely loved this book, and learned from it.

Monday, July 24, 2017

4 Years Stuck in my Mind Castle by Johan Twiss

Review based on e-reader edition

This has to be one of the most amazing books I've read! Fictional yet feels quite possible. How often do we hear a survivor of a coma hears and remembers what was said while he/she remained comatose, and yet they actually do. I have seen it. But this warmhearted story is not due to coma as such.

An extremely rare, possibly untreatable case of meningitis is what has shut down most of his system: Cryptococcal Meningitis. This has left this fourteen year old boy, Aaron, in complete and utter paralysis, vision, talking, blinking, all lost to him and has been for a very long time. But what he hasn't lost is his imagination. Since he is trapped, he creates a "mind palace", a place in his brain where he can go. Author Johan Twiss is about to take us on a strange but fascinating journey.

When he gets a room-mate, his life is about to open up in ways he could never have guessed. An elderly man with some type of dementia, is now ensconced in his room. This is where the real story begins, an amazing chance to return to a life with meaning from the wealth of history and music his new room-mate, Solomon, a Jewish Jazz musician, brings with him.

This is a turning point for Aaron, because he has just learned he can "hear and respond" in a very special way. He has a connection with Solomon between the two of them. This is a wonderful story, surprising, sad, yet uplifting. A fulfilling adventure all their own, that leaves with it a curiosity: Who was Aaron who played Jazz with Solomon in the '30s?