Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Inventor (a Penny Green Mystery Book 4) by Emily Organ

 Independently published

Oh, how I wish I had started this series with the first book by Emily Organ! That said, I really enjoyed reading the Inventor. I didn't really know exactly what I would find and learn in this book beginning in 1884 with a young lady as a reporter for the newspaper, but the story-line was excellent. Everything in this book was well-matched to its time, not to mention a really strong heroine reporting. The Inventor is placed in the time of working with electricity and I'm sure a lot of references were spot on. If not quite in their time, there are notes at the end of the book with dates, names, companies, and even references to what was going on in botany at the time Penny's father disappeared on a hunt for new plants.

This book has over 350 pp. yet I read it in one day. So dedicated to the story I was I simply couldn't put it down. I definitely want to read the previous books Limelight, The Rookery, and The Maid's Secret, (Books 1, 2 & 3 in the series).

A lot of history of Britain especially regarding the work with electricity, chemicals, filaments, but one can just imagine from the descriptions the appearance in a live show of fairies lit up with small lights in their performance. But unfortunately this didn't last on the first live trial. Instead, misfortune soon overtakes witnesses as the man who has created this effect for whatever reason commits suicide. A sad ending. But why? Our intrepid reporter Penny Green is witness, and also as a reporter will certainly be investigating why this happened. When she starts to receive threatening notes, the whole book takes a turnaround. It still is featuring electricity in its earliest days, but the who would single out Penny for very nasty threatening notes and even telegrams? Everything she does for the paper is followed up with threats, but still she can rely on help from her various contacts.

Seriously, I could not put this book down, in fact when I went outside to check on some noises (we live where there is considerable wildlife), I realized I had taken my book out with me!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey

  Penguin Random House
  Tundra Books
  written by Linda Bailey
  illustrated by Julia Sarda

I love the illustrations in this book, both the imaginative and creative drawings, and the creative writing. Kids and adults are going to love these drawings, as creative as the original story itself. This is a childrens book, so creative. As it says, How does a Story Begin? Sometimes it begins with a dream. I am in awe of the creativity and the story in this book.

Mary is an unusual girl. She never really knew her mother, she died when Mary was only eleven days old. She comes to know some poets, writers, and artists, friends of her father and who will become famous through the years. Thus she becomes well-known in her own field. She is unique, well-read, and creative, and she runs away with a young poet who is very much like her, seeing what others don't see, too busy in their own lives to see the creativity in the lives of these two unique personalities. Meeting another creative story-teller, Mary has a lot to think about as a teen-ager.  She sees mystery everywhere, finds creativity fulfilling her life. Her friends want to become famous story-tellers...poets, artists, novelists. Mary, with her wonderful imagination, way with words, and desire to create, to tell stories, writes. Mary is the person who wrote about Frankenstein and created a book that is still known today. Mary grew up to be a classic and exciting author. Sometimes a Story begins with a Dream. If people dreamed of what they wanted to do, of what they are capable of, just look at what they can do!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Gray Ghost: The Bill Dix Detective Series Book 1 by C.L. Swinney

                                     What a thriller! This is one very active, very connected book!
Reviewed from Kindle

What a thriller! What a way to take a vacation! This is one very active, very connected book. I knew I'd heard the words "Gray Ghost" through the years but had no idea until now how important those words were. I just looked at a list of books with that name included and it is a long list. I believe it has also been used as names for operations and various transport mobility during wars. Just picture planes, ships, submarines slipping out of side like a gray ghost in a fog. Just as easily a motorboat of any type could slip away in the usual fog of night with illegal cargo as silently as a ghost when needed. That aside, this was a fascinating book, beginning with murder and the sinking of a speedboat loaded with one hundred million dollars' worth of cocaine in the hull, and two dead bodies on deck. Wouldn't you think a nice fishing trip in the Bahamas would be restful for two vacationing narcotics detectives? But no, first their fishing guides were killed, the boat sunk, all before they even got started. What can you do when you do not have jurisdiction to assist in such a case that could cost your career if you interfere? But Bill and his partner will take the chance. This was a great fast action read, lots to think about, some very fast thinking but the mastermind is so diabolical, how will they ever catch him? Lucky for the readers, this is Book 1 in a series so there is more to come. I was totally whisked away by author C.L. Swinney as I followed their efforts, very exciting.

Behind Dark Doors by Susan May

Reviewed from Kindle

Fascinating and dark, I enjoyed these short stories, always with a quick twist. These stories bring to mind the old Twilight Zone TV series that were so suspenseful and held a twist. What was particularly different was that the Twilight Zone was visual whereas this book with its several very suspenseful short stories can sneak up on you as you absorb what you are reading. Of course, reading has its own ability to create visually and probably retain the shock that will come as it twists suddenly. Reading this book will definitely leave you with visually presented stories in your mind. It is also Book 1 of a series, so lots to look forward to. I read all the stories in one go, couldn't put it down until I finished the book. Short stories in this case didn't feel short because there was so much packed into them that will claim your mind long after you finish the book. Bring on the next! It's almost like shock therapy. You really pulled me in, Susan May!

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.