Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Antiterrorist (Jake Corby 0.5) by Al Macy

written by Al Macy
short story

I found this short story a bit unusual, considering it begins with action fully engaged with an already captured Jake, an FBI agent with beatings and bondage attacks perpetuated on him, a man who reacts with a taunting comedic attitude. Who are these brutal terrorists? Where is his backup? Once rescued, Jake belittles his abilities, even with his serious injuries. Personally I found his demeanor to be much like the old '40s movie detectives I so enjoyed in the past, especially Sam Spade.

What he really is trying to do is take down terrorists, who happen to be attacking the satellites surrounding the earth, including Soyus and the Space Station. Of course with so many now circling above us, the fact that they are disappearing one by one does make it necessary to actively react to this type of attack to save the lives of those on the station. How he is going to do this with all his injuries is moot, he's going to do it anyway. The race is on to locate the beam that is destroying the satellites, it's known that it is originating from earth, but where? Will he be in time?

A fun look at governing agencies and quirky adventure, I enjoyed the book, even the 0.5 title.

An Invitation to Murder (Lady Katherine Regency Mysteries Book 1)

written by Leighann Dobbs and Harmony Williams
review from e-book

What a different time and life in Regency England. What an interesting story within the time of Regency! What a surprise that the main character is the daughter of an Earl and her heart's desire is to become a detective! I enjoyed reading this unique story with so much historical accuracy of the life and times. No wonder Lady Katherine wishes to escape the norm and become a detective like her father.

It is a time of invisibility of females as persons, a time of seeking "approved" marriages for young maidens and of course that means seeking a high society and rich suitor to marry them. Mothers pushing their daughters to marry well, often calling on matchmakers to arrange a perfect match, as in seeking title and wealth, never mind compatibility.

I loved the blossoming of Annie, as well as the compatibility of this particular pairing. Annie is the downtrodden believed by everyone to be the one no one would want for a wife yet she alone will marry well. I also found it hilarious how the system worked in those days! Matchmakers, mothers, daughters, Lords, Earls, Dukes, everybody wants to be part of the aristocracy, I would say mostly mothers for their daughters with no thought to what these men might really be like. Even more, they seem to switch around. Who is with who? Who would rather be with someone else? Love certainly doesn't seem to be a part of the picture. But what is the picture? Murder seems to play a pretty big part in all this. Why? Can Katherine find the murderer before anyone else is attacked? Or will she be the next victim. Lots of red herrings in this search for a murderer. For that matter, it's pretty "fishy" trying to find out who is where with maidens all changing partners.

Will Lady Katherine get her wish?

Spies and Spells by Tonya Kappes

written by Tonya Kappes
reviewed by e-book

This book was fun to read, especially when our pre-witch is getting frustrated and wants to become whatever is her future when Witchy Hour comes. In the meantime, she has her "familiar" which of course is a black cat...NOT! Maggie must be the first witch-to-be with a non-animal familiar named Vinnie and he not only gets her where she's going but makes sure she is safe, because Vinnie is a car. And not wanting to give spoilers, I won't say more about this familiar other than to say with him along, this book really picks up speed and laughter, my laughter. I loved the book, completely entertaining. Not quite your usual cozy witch, impatient, often bored waiting for her own particular magic to kick in. When it does, she will be very surprised at what her future is meant to be.

Mad as Hell - Do You Want to Know a Secret?

written by Paul Casselle
first published on Amazon 

One thing about Paul Casselle, he really knows how to tell a story and keep the reader involved. This thriller is no different. Many thrillers are based on either actual cases, old cold cases, murder and/or conspiracies and as such contain strong or offensive language, so reader be prepared.

This is the second book I've read by Paul Casselle and it is full of conspiracy theories, particularly those that are well-known, thrills, murder, characters representing CIA, MI6, and other groups, especially BIG money. But what draws me in the most is the feeling that I am watching a play! This is in no way meant to belittle the book, but an enhancement to the spell it casts. An interesting thing for me to think, but it definitely gets me involved in the story. I find myself engrossed with what is happening as though I am there. Somewhat as in the first book, characters appear and disappear in the blink of an eye. Once again the matter of who is with which group, who is dead (or "deleted"), who is alive to play their parts in these conspiracies is fascinating but constantly changing. Just when you think you've "got it" it slips away again.

The book is not just another thriller, it has a life of its own. Reading it not only grabbed me quickly, but it presents with a sense of humour at times. I really enjoyed this book, the second in the "Bedfellows" series. If you've read and enjoyed the first, you are sure to enjoy this one.

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?

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Black Tortoise - a Peter Strand Mystery by Ronald Tierney

 based on Advance Reading Copy
Published by Orca Rapid Reads

I love a mystery with humor and Ronald Tierney has certainly given us that. The story is almost mystical at times with the occasional appearance of a black tortoise at the wharf. Not something one would expect in a story featuring a forensic accountant and a suspected fraudulently run organization. Or is it?

Almost ready to wrap up his investigation of a nonprofit organization, things rapidly change with the death of David, the "IT guy." How did  he end up in the ocean, and why didn't he try to climb out onto one of the piers? Was he killed? Murdered? This changes everything. Once again, Peter Strand has a possible case of fraud, if he can find it.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was interesting, lots of possible suspects, and humorous. Definitely quirky characters, an entertaining quick read.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Murder of Convenience - a Stowe Village Cozy Murder Mysteries by Carrie Marsh

by Carrie Marsh
review from e-reader

Small towns and villages, what do we really know about the people who populate them? Does anyone really know who is friendly, who is happy, who is sad, and who is lonely? In Stowe Village this holds true as any other small community. But Carrie Marsh has shown us that we don't really know what goes on within the minds of the villagers.

This book starts off with surprise and desperation, surprise among some of the villagers, and the desperation of one. What has terrorized Janet Fleet, a wife and mother, to such an extent that she is seen fleeing as though the devil himself was on her heels? This naturally raises speculation like "Why leave? Why not take the child? Why now?"

What I find interesting is the fear felt by Lady Marcie, felt even though she was asleep. Was this a dream? Or a premonition? What woke her up so suddenly? Suddenly enough to wake her husband, who manages to calm her.

By morning the whole town is stunned to learn of a deadly car accident...or was it? There seems to be some speculation and confusion. The body taken to the morgue leaves more questions than answers.

This small village has an extremely small police force, although fortunately they don't have to send out for autopsies and ambulance service. It's a good thing, too, because within hours all are called out again to what again appears to be another car accident, just as deadly.

Is this a crime of passion? How could it be, the deaths are at separate times and in separate vehicles. One car is heavily rear-ended, the other is side-swiped but the end result is the same. Curiouser and curiouser. A complicated story, a puzzle to be solved. Who is the puzzle master?

Meanwhile, what is happening in the village itself? Silence, sadness, shock, but curiosity and suspicion. It's time for believing, observing, discussing, collaborating, time to turn suspicions into facts. Something isn't right. Everything seems to be a bit "off", but why? I really enjoyed the pace of this book, paced enough to focus on the facts and step away for a bit from what appears to be fact when in reality the facts have been spun around and the police look in the wrong places. About this time, Lady Marcie, watching over Tamsyn, the daughter of Janet Fleet, begins to fit the puzzle pieces together, but there are some red herrings thrown in the mix and a feeling of more secrets from this 8 yr old girl. A shocking surprise is waiting to be discovered.

I love this book, it draws me in so quickly and firmly. This cozy, even with the deaths, is comfy, the result of coming together in sadness. With a couple of nods to Miss Marple and, surprisingly, Colombo (with his "...just one more thing") I thoroughly enjoyed Lady Marcie's thought processes. I look forward to more in this series. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

I Am Sleepless: Sim 299 (Book 1)

written by Johan Twiss
Sketches by Adrienne Burger
reviewed from e-reader

Pre-teens and young adults are going to love this book! This book is so much fun to read. A strong story from human to alien, or primes as they are referred to in the book. Johan Twiss thrills and entertains in this combination of student simulated trials and the real thing. If you hesitate, the story might run away with you. I certainly ran with it, reading it all in one go. I'm sure my grandsons, maybe even my son, would enjoy it, too. It is truly different from others I've read. The young characters are lively, conversational and full of ideas as young people generally are. They appear to be in a learning facility, they have classes, differences in their personalities are so human-like and yet even as completely different from each other, they are good friends.

I would call this a sci-fi/fantasy that should really touch a chord to followers of this genre, especially in light of the apparent martial arts/military training or the inventive creative teaching background the story touches on. These are highly skilled characters with lots of tricks up their sleeves or more precisely lots of skills; once the reader gets into the meat of the story it takes on a life of its own. Lots of fantastic beings to fight or to tame, bring humor into the story. In fact, there are wonderfully comical creatures beautifully illustrated.

What can one do when the Director of the facility is completely bonkers? What is going through his mind that it is so deceptive? Is it safe for the primes to enter the simulator? These are questions the reader will be trying to solve. Where do all the beasts come from? This is the crux of the matter, how to survive a trial in the Sim, particularly in Sim 199. A well-fledged story, and part of a series, so lots of fun and fury ahead.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Girl in the Glass: A McCabe and Savage Thriller

written by James Hayman
reviewed from e-reader

 A naked girl lies at the bottom of a cliff on rocks; crows are circling overhead, is she alive? Possibly, but where is she? Who is watching her? How did she get here?

Yet, here we have the same scenario with different possibilities and yet the same face... is it really so many decades or years later? Or is the timeline reality? This book is sure to take many dark twists and turns in the hands of James Hayman. Even the title is a trick of the eye and must be glimpsed quickly.

The author has given us a conundrum, or has he? Something just doesn't compute and yet.... It's graduation, the elite members of family at the university are all on hand for their graduates and valedictorian to go through the process and the altruistic speeches. Two sisters sharing their day, but not really together. Has the green-eyed dragon of jealousy lifted his head?

The second body is found by a hospital intern when his dog obviously has picked up a scent, causing what is almost a humor break within the seriousness of the crime. Something totally unexpected which is bound to cause problems in solving the case! Crows and dogs, what else could mess up the crime scene?

These two crimes, so very close to identical but over a century apart, one wonders what ties them, if anything. Both girls were alive when discovered, but died before police arrived. Both suffered identical injuries. This is a very unique thriller, two cases, one definitely a very cold case. It's enough to make one think of ghosts or vampires, except that both are dead. I was really deep into the story line as I read. Thrilling, convoluted, brilliant and fit for a movie, at least that's how it played out in my mind as I read. Expect the unexpected. A book that cries out for an all-night read, no stopping.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Something in the Heir (It's Reigning Men Book 1 of 8)

by Jenny Gardiner
reviewed from e-reader

Pretty hot stuff, or it would be if the four involved ever managed to get there

A fun romp of a story, I love the character of Emma, she is so incredibly outside of herself she almost misses what's in plain sight. I enjoyed this story so much, unexpected and funny. She doesn't realize what an impact she has made when she is hired to take photos of the town bigwigs with a visiting prince. As a photographer, Emma has taken many photos of dignitaries in many different locales. Her friend and assistant, Caroline, is by her side in each of these fantastic photo shoots. I would imagine there would be times when both girls would like to be a part of the background or a part of the photo themselves.

These two girls are firmly planted in their choices in life, regardless that none of their choices seem to have panned out. When royalty seeks them out they barely know what to do or say! That said, there is some pretty sexy stuff in the book that unfortunately for the four main characters they do not manage to get into. Therein lies the comic factor of what is almost Keystone Kops lore, they never seem to be able to catch their man/men. Oh, yes, it's pretty hot stuff, or it would be if it only could be.

When Emma and her "date" manage to get away to what should have been a safe rendezvous, the result is absolutely hilarious when the "empty" house that was her grandmother's is suddenly bursting at the seams. 

I must say Emma has a very unusual way with words. She doesn't think first. Whatever pops into her head, sensible, good, bad, is what comes out of her mouth all wrong. When Caroline is with her, it doesn't get much better but certainly gets even funnier. There is so much I could say about this book but it doesn't lend itself to keeping away from spoilers as I write. I'm trying, but if any slip out I apologize. At this point we haven't even got halfway through the book. Believe me, there will be twists, turns, surprises, and other fun stuff. I loved this book, I'm sure I've said it before, but I truly do. I've never read anything like it. I think I dropped into the script of a Disney Fairytale movie, but the characters aren't sticking to the script! 8 books in the Series.  Jenny Gardiner, I can hardly wait to read another of your books.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Seven Trees of Stone: Thirteen Days of Midnight Trilogy Book 3

by Leo Hunt
reviewed from e-reader

Please keep in mind that this review is written from an Advance Reading Copy and is not the final product.

A fantasy and an incredible adventure for teens and young adults (as well as this grandmother!)

A couple of young college students are about to witness an extremely unusual event. Will they survive it? First there were the White Swans, hundreds, thousands or more, where did they all come from and what are they trying to do? Not only that but later, where did they go? Very peculiar, at some point they all just disappeared again flying backwards. I love this story already.

This adventurous race against time in the dead of winter is not only hazardous, it is probably even deadly. Who or what is Mr. Berkeley? What debt does Luke owe him and just how dangerous is he or it?

This New Years Eve promises to be the strangest ever, and perhaps the most dangerous. Luke and his friend Elza notice something very weird, fog that is creeping and moving; what is it made of and what is creating its movement? An odd thing in the sky appears to be green flashes, sometimes blue (is that lightning?) Luke and Elza who attend a different college in a new town are desperately trying to get to Dunbarrow to Elza's house where she has bound it with a hazel safety barrier.

It is New Years Eve and everyone is celebrating in the town centre of Dunbarrow. But not all of the celebrating seems right. In fact, they seem to be overtaken by such riotous cheer as to appear to be suffering a plague of insanity! Will New Years Day last forever? Is this the end of Dunbarrow? Not everyone seems affected though, Luke and Elza have just met up with old college friends who don't seem so much crazed, but more nervous and scared, and decide to go with them to Elza's house.

This book is the final novel in the trilogy. The trilogy itself is Thirteen Days of Midnight (Thirteen Days of Midnight#1) began when Luke was just starting college. The second is Eight Rivers of Shadow (Thirteen Days of Midnight #2) and from what I've seen in the final book is a fantastic adventure of twists and turns. This review is based on the final book, almost done, just waiting for the final polishing before publication. If you enjoyed this review, be prepared for the release Seven Trees of Stone in August 2017. From my perspective it will be worth the wait. In the meantime, the first two books are already released, and ready to join the reader for the beginning of the adventure.

I really enjoyed this book, wish I had read the first two in the trilogy, but unfortunately didn't see either one. It would have made this one fantastically exciting.

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 referred 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 escape 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 she 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.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Keep Moving: And Other Tips About Old Age

author Dick Van Dyke
published by Weinstein Books

I have just finished reading this book and I feel great! I've got the genes and I'm going to make the most of it. I'm a mere 78 this year, born in 1940. I come away from this book written by a favorite actor, Dick Van Dyke who has reinforced in me the fact that you need to "Keep Moving" whether by memories and thought, dancing and exercising or just exercising your brain. These are brought home to me every day since Mom turned 100 Dec. 23, 2016 and my Dad turns 100 May 27, 2017, living in their own home and yes, they dance. They have a stuffed musical bear that sings; my Dad grabs the bear and Mom and away they go. Oh, his cousin also turned 100 in January, 2017. So yes, I have the genes. But now after reading "Keep Moving" I have the instruction book, so to speak.

While I was at Mom & Dad's last December, in fact right up to and after Mom's 100th birthday, she was reading this book. I was fascinated, because she doesn't read a lot of books. She kept telling me, "I'm really enjoying this book." With that in mind, when I came back home, I bought 2 of them, one for myself and one for my 96 year old neighbor, my lifeline and pal who I have shared so much history with since moving to northern BC and meeting her my first day only to learn that our lives have crossed many times in the past. We don't believe in growing older without a lot of laughter. She loved this book, and passed it on to our friend, and one of which we share our so-called "support group", and she is enjoying it, too. We all have problems of one kind or another, but when we all get together it's a wonder Tim Hortons doesn't throw us out for disturbing the peace, we are laughing that loud. So, Dick Van Dyke, one of my favorite actors and entertainers, you have done what you set out to do. Made a believer of me and my friends.

All that personal stuff aside, (I only included it because it shows just how much we enjoyed the book and follow the theme), this is a remarkable book on living without aging. The rest of the title is "And Other Tips and Truths About Living Well Longer" and certainly fills the bill. Now in his nineties, Dick Van Dyke is enjoying life as much and maybe more. He is still active, sings and dances and refuses to feel "old". I very highly recommend this book to everyone. Not just us "old folks" who are really 'way ahead of our predecessors for many reasons. Laughter, friendship, walking, exercising mind and body (crossword puzzles are great for keeping the mind active), all this and more will keep us young. So many memories in this book from the past and forming today as well. His advice to keep making new memories, don't just sit around, move or go out as much as you are physically able and ignore what you are not physically able, take up new interests you are capable of, music, jokes, laughter, friendship, all will keep you young. This isn't to say that Dick hasn't had his share of sadness having lost two life partners in his lifetime. His memories of these two women are fresh and young, and fortunately he has found his partner, his wife, who though younger is very much in tune with him. He has children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren he is proud of and enjoys. This book also brought back the work he accomplished that I grew up with, the sitcoms, the movies, who could forget "Mary Poppins" nor can I forget "Bye Bye Birdie" one that you don't really hear that much about any more, but I remember it. I didn't realize that he was in the airforce during WWII, at the young age of 18. So many famous entertainers did go to war, and some lost their lives. This is a heart-warming book, nostalgic but not lessening in its message. Be young, age is just a number. I enjoyed every bit of this book as well as his conversations with other favorite performers. I still love the Dick Van Dyke show, as well as the other later ones. A very likeable man who I hope will be with us a long time yet.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall by Shani Struthers

by Shani Struthers
reviewed from e-reader

A story all too often heard, particularly in the times of the event. It's Christmas Eve, 1958; it is also Cynthia Hart's 31st birthday. It was a time of big movies in colour, and wannabees drawn to the studios like flies to honey. Cynthia is already a huge star, but tonight she will die. How? Why? We'll follow along the search for these answers with the Psychic Surveys group.

The Psychic Surveys group are devoted to helping the dead into the light, but this will be no easy feat. Where most calls come from people who have purchased houses that were built on land where "Britain's most notorious mental asylum" once was, and could very easily have activity terrorizing them, the group attends them all and has very informed, dedicated and sensitive members, usually explaining and helping these spirits into the light, then performing a house-wide cleansing.

The group consists of Ruby, Theo, Ness and Corinna, all with different abilities. They will have a difficult task ahead. They have been called in by a very rattled homeowner, reporting what appeared to be a very angry spirit. Theo, first on the scene, has felt the strong presence herself, strongest in the master bedroom and ballroom. It seems that Cynthia has never passed on although she died many years ago. Somewhere in her last decades she has been led to believe her soul has been taken, hence the probable feeling of loss end of life, and whoever told this information will nullify it and punish the sender.  I will take care of the other errors.  Her estate had been willed to her maid Sally, and subsequently Sally's nephew Alan Kierney moved in, he is the one who called the group.

Of ghost stories, this one is a bit unusual to say the least. She is not willing to leave. Her death was recorded as a heart attack. What from that night could have caused such a thing at the top of her career? She appears to be terrified and no one could convince her otherwise. What is holding her back? The secret will have to come out soon so she can escape.  In the meantime, a ghost dog has been found at the last house barking and disturbing the neighbours, add it to the pile of queries. While checking the neighbourhood, she meets a young man who strangely is reading the same book "Drive Like Hell" seems a fitting book for the circumstances.

Questioning what Ruby did, she is always thrown off, fortunately she doesn't fall back on her usual wording, but explains she is a psychic surveyor. Of course Cash is confused, but she manages to explain her part of the rescues. This, of course, brings questions re a ghost hunter, no, she is not a ghost hunter but a psychic surveyor, there's quite a difference. She is intrigued by him, but wary. Dressed casually, she wondered what he did. "I'm a website designer, freelance." Wow! This is something helpful or so she hopes. She is needing a website for her business but knew very little about such things. Of course this requires a lot of time between them to a) learn about website control and b) teach what would be needed in her particular work. Her training coming mostly from her Gran, they must be sure everything is precise. Cynthia is terrified to leave and spends most of her time hiding, believing in a small compartment in her room. Oh, Cash has a lot to learn, and fast! The next day is going to be a wild one. He is willing to learn though, especially learning from Ruby.

Cynthia appears to be severely traumatized. She is in complete terror about what is ahead for her. Nothing seems to calm her. The group tries very hard to reason with her but for some reason she is sure that someone from her past sold her soul to the Devil. What? Much as they try to soothe her and reassure her, it will take at least one more visit from them. This was a great read, I loved it and could not have imagined the ending, with suspense building up to a crescendo, I really didn't see it coming. Great story-telling! I would happily read more of this series.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

If the Bed Falls In (Book 1 of the Bedfellows series)

author Paul Casselle
reviewed from e-reader

- A Man in Two Minds: are Either of Them His?
A most unusual book, a deep psychological thriller that kept me glued to it. I actually enjoyed wandering around what seemed like illogical thoughts of the prolific characters in Tom's head. Quite fascinating, in a strange way, almost like a manifestation of split personality except there are too many other characters with him. But what is really odd is that no one else seems to acknowledge that he isn't who he should be, but is exactly who they think he is. Who, then, is a killer? Is anyone?

Most of  the group meeting appears to have some connection to Tom's crew of imaginary and diverse agents; a planned assassination, but who will do it? What role will each play? Who or what is the Spring? Well, that is at least one thing that may be explained. It apparently doesn't matter who does what or thinks what, as backup they have a British Olympic shooter. Now the question bodes, who is the target and why? Does anyone in this group wonder? Why do different members of the plot keep showing up individually in the dark of night?  Everyone wants information on the Bedfellows, not least of them is Will and Cyril.

I really enjoyed this book, fast action, but I have to admit I took notes to keep the characters sorted out simply because I wanted to have the information straight to write this review. It all makes sense in some strange way. The smoothness with which the characters, though often changed, were carrying out the subplots was remarkable. International spies and an assassin but they are all the same yet different. What a wild ride through an addled mind. Is it something affecting the brain? Is it Tom's previous use of cocaine causing a cocaine hallucination? How can that be, it's not just him that changes character but all his friends and cohorts. This book is fun, scary, and a bit off the wall, and that's what makes it so enjoyable. I'd say it was a murder mystery, but the mystery is that the murdered turn up alive...every time! Paul Casselle is a very talented writer, precise and exciting. The title is derived from the old Goodnight, Sleep Tight rhyme with two extra lines I'm not familiar with but it's very fitting, and perhaps a clue.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Fool Me Twice - a Carol Golden Novel #6

Author Alan Cook
reviewed from e-reader

The latest book in the Carol Golden series and once again Alan Cook has put a new spin into the story. Carol, the girl of many names and few memories, is now the wife of Rigo who saved her life in the first book, and the mother of Stevie, an adventurous and bold one-year-old. One might say that he is determined enough to maybe someday follow in his mother's footsteps.

This time around, Carol finds herself completely befuddled in how to deal with the elderly victim of a huge scam who refuses to go to the police. Both are rather adept in figures and puzzles, but Peter Griffenham, a retired professor who taught business courses, seems reluctant to pursue any action on his behalf to reclaim a very large sum of money that he wired to an unknown. Though he worries his son is going to try to get control of his money, he has just parted with $100,000 to an off-shore account. Is this the action of the author of a book, "Holding on to Your Money" he wrote years ago?

It's hard not to like Peter, but equally hard not to give up on him, enough to want to pull your hair out. He's not dense or senile, one supposes he is one of those people who either don't want to admit they made a mistake or one who doesn't want to get anyone in trouble. Whichever, it seems that one embezzler has been beaten to the punch by another. Amy is a delightful surprise in this book; she is smart, beautiful, an actress and a puzzle. The relationship between Peter and Amy is unusual but I feel both benefit from meeting each other, not in the usual beneficial way of friends but friendly with a few surprises. What is keeping Peter from going to the police or a lawyer? Who does he really suspect? For that matter, he seems to have a few surprising secrets himself. With Carol still trying to retrieve her memory each book has me involved in a very different story. Another fascinating book by Alan Cook, as always, I find the gymnastics of logic in the story very entertaining.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Hummingbird Wizard by Meredith Blevins

reviewed by e-reader
by Meredith Blevins

Wow, this book almost wore me out! Fasten your seatbelts, you're in for a wild ride! The characters are fun to read, always plotting against each other or with each other, characters you won't readily forget. This mixed Gypsy and non-Gypsy family is fascinating to follow. Full-blown life and sudden death; a dose of magic and the paranormal mixed through the plot. Who is the mysterious Hummingbird Wizard? Gypsy lore, bit of culture mixed in. This is a story to keep one glued to the pages. Meredith Blevins has given us a remarkable roller-coaster of love, murder and deceit. It is also a very full story with a lot going on throughout. The matriarch is fully in control, fierce but full of life. A true gypsy fortune-teller and a woman of many surprises, she is a bundle of conflicting emotions and brings the reader into them like a moth to flame. So many twists I got dizzy. The interaction between Madame Mina and Annie Szabo, the mother-in-law and the widowed daughter-in-law, is a tug-of-war of feelings. I don't believe I've ever read a story like it. It grips you and doesn't let you go. First in the Annie Szabo Mystery Series, and I think I'll be back for the second.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

War, Spies and Bobby Sox - Stories About World War II at Home

reviewed from e-reader
by Libby Fischer Hellmann

The first part of this book was amazing, and the rest of the book ran true to its beginnings! It is very suspenseful, very well-written, and though fiction, is full of factual occurrences or persons. I don't speak of just the beginning of the book, as it is really three stories of war, so I find it easier to concentrate on each separately. Nevertheless, the whole is still wartime in terms of WWII, and how those at home cope, or often don't. These are the times I grew up in. Those of us old enough to recall what it was like growing up in the troubled times of the 1930s and 1940s, then in the mid '40s through the 1950's the beginning of the nuclear age with all the fears and the famous "duck and cover". The terror inflicted by the armed forces, FBI, CIA, and other organizations that your neighbors may be Communists and should be reported. This chapter in history turned innocent people into spies and this theme runs throughout the stories. But I digress, simply because this book is so close to home, the memories flow.

Libby Fischer Hellman has dug deeply into that dark pit where one enemy infiltration, particularly the Nazis, leaves off and another, Communism arrives. It is also the beginnings of nuclear experiments. And so we begin, following the life of one Jewish girl, Lena, whose family is among those who are seeking asylum in other countries. Sent to live with relatives in America, she never hears from her parents again. Libby starts the story fairly close to the time the United States came into the war, particularly into the 1940s of Rosie the Riveter, European countries gobbled up, women desperate for love and families, but we also find that there are spies. These covert infiltrators seek to enlist people to spy for them, report to them, give them intel, but never let their chosen know who they are really working for. Lena has been working in the Physics Dept. in the university, who better to induct? She has a young child, she is poor, she is alone, working where the early development of splitting atoms is going on. Of course she has been sworn to secrecy in her job, who better to train as a spy? The events in this section of the book are very close to reality. Especially what she is spying on. I found this book to be a very honest fiction if such can be said. Lena is trained under threat, becomes a very good spy but does have some tricks up her sleeve, too, if it weren't for an additional demand for her to spy on the spy, more or less. Who is spying for whom? A shockingly big twist near the end of this part. This first section of the book I will leave here, the reader must enjoy the suspense for themselves. I am moving into the second part.

This is what this book is about, life for those left behind whether Jews seeking asylum, families receiving letters that their loved ones have been killed, teens trying to handle blossoming sexually, living on farms where POWs come to work. The latter certainly applies to Mary-Catherine, who is at the heart of "what happens in rural America". The war has basically ended against the Nazis, though some Nazi POWs don't believe it; but the attack on Pearl Harbor has turned the world against Japan and sped up the race to splitting the atom. The world was ripe for picking. Spies and counter-spies played a huge part at this time. This section features a young farm girl and POWs who come to work under guard on the farm. Mary-Catherine's father is still fighting in the Battle of Midway. As the family, mother, two young children and a beautiful teen-age girl, hear a truck rumble in they come to see what is happening. The mother gives her assent to the guard for the prisoners to work on harvesting the crops. The prisoners are a mixed group, German soldiers, SS, Nazis, even intel; some arrogant, some friendly, some unscrupulous, at least one honest; and any of them can be enemies still, spies, especially one prisoner who is a loyal Nazi. A fight between prisoners of different factions, a lockdown, a murder, an accident; and a disgraced daughter is sent away. Another glimpse of what can and will happen when consorting with the enemy. They've had time to think and plot escape. A short story, but very honest in what could and often did happen post-war. This story was compelling and sad, taking place entirely in Illinois.

Now we come to another side on the home front. The day Miriam Hirsch disappeared. Two boys from different parts of Chicago; Jake Forman in Hyde Park, a German Jew and Barney Teitelman in Lawndale, the Jewish neighborhood on Chicago's West Side whose family was from Russia or Lithuania. The families are opposites in most ways, but the boys remain best friends. It was in Lawndale where they first see Miriam, beautiful, an actress, probably a German Jew. Next they knew, Skull, a low-level gangster, began to be seen with her. The area they were in, where Barney lived, was composed of gangs, though protective. Irish street gangs, Nazi sympathizers, and Skull, casino owner. Jake was devastated to see them together. Then comes an evening when he and Barney overhear Miriam tell Skull that she "...won't do it. Stop asking me." The conversation carries on in much the same tone, Skull wanting some information, pleading with her. Did she agree finally? He is hugging her, but they don't hear an answer. After that night they never saw her with Skull again. Her routines were different. Skull tries to hire the boys to work for him. And here we come full circle again. No trust, become an informant, murder, but the real common denominator is hatred and suspicion. All the parts of the whole. A novel that seems more like the truth. Lives lost, conspiracies grow, threats become reality. This book is truly exceptional, three parts of a whole. One of the best. Libby, you've done it again.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

No Darker Place - a Shades of Death novel by Debra Webb

published by MIRABooks
written by Debra Webb

There is no darker place than the mind of a serial killer.

Tension started mounting the minute I started reading this book by Debra Webb. I'm not sure I can take a breather, I know I will become deeply involved in the story. Bobby Gentry, police officer, is the first survivor of kidnapping and torture by the Storyteller, a serial killer who normally sticks to a once-a-year killing. Since he met Bobby, once a year was no longer the case. How could he carry on with the same timing once she had escaped? Even after he killed her husband and her baby died. Bobby's long healing physically and mentally is still taking its toll on her when she is finally allowed back in the force. This is a story of revenge. She believes it is "her" case and wants to solve it herself, taking extreme chances, trying to draw him out of the woodwork so to speak. Her prime objective is to kill him. She knows he will be waiting for her. Now she fears he has taken the nurse who treated her. She knows that he will commit the same horrors on Gwen as he did to her. There is no darker place than the mind of a serial killer.

Who is the stranger who is hunting the killer? He seems to have been stalking him for a very long time, but he is not with the police nor the FBI. Although both groups are aware of him and his search, no one knows who he is. This is a very tense and well-written thriller, The first book by Debra Webb that I have read and it's a killer, metaphorically speaking. As always, there is a back story that is as horrific as the present; and indeed the back story here runs true to form. Now Bobby's biggest nightmare is coming to life. A sudden shock of fear as women begin to arrive at the police station asking for Detective Bobby Gentry and bringing with them photos of their children who have suddenly gone missing. This is one of the Shades of Death novels and it definitely fits this novel. There are many shades of death. There is so much included in this storyline, victims of illness, accident, and yes, definitely murder, but not your normally quick and deadly murder. Enough to make your toes curl and your heart pound. Who can outwit and remove the Storyteller before he can claim Bobby once again?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Paying Back the Dead - a Millerfield Village mystery

reviewed from e-reader
author Carrie Marsh

Who killed the taxman?

Imagine the pleasant surprise of hearing one is going to get a rebate when they are simply expecting to pay their taxes. Top this off with finding out the consultant she is about to see is the husband of her mother's cousin. Cousin Judy. A relative they had lost contact with over a number of years. In this delightful British series, unfortunately this reunion was not to be, at least not today. Instead, Laura will be seeing a different consultant. After an hour she finds herself a few hundred pounds richer heading home.

Laura has a special bond with her pet cat, it's as though they are able to communicate almost as two humans. I enjoyed the connection between the two. A most communicative feline at that. I have to say besides Laura, the best character and most fun is Monty the cat. I love the setting of this book, I feel connected somewhat, living in the country by a small town myself, though I've never found a body, which is something that just happened at the very bank she came from. Who would kill the husband of her newly discovered relative, even if he wasn't well-liked? Clues are found, suggesting murder, but very strange. As always, I like to learn something new, and the probable cause of death gave me that. A slight nod to Romeo & Juliet when our star-crossed lovers can't get a moment to themselves because of the case. How can Howard help Laura solve the case when the police keep her on such a tight rein? When Laura meets Judy at a tea, she feels extreme sadness in Judy's life. What will happen now to Laura's cousin Judy and her children?

There seems to be a slight lull toward the middle of the book, but when Laura gets a feeling of being watched and unexplained break-ins happen, it takes on a more sombre feel. Who is stalking her? It feels like even the police are involved in the mystery, and there is slow progress on the murder. Why is a famous person who supposedly left the village the day before in a hurry still there? Who is with her? A very interesting and enjoyable cosy mystery with an unexpected twist; I look forward to reading more by Carrie Marsh. I usually read more serious mysteries, but enjoy dipping into a cosy as well, especially those with unique twists. This one makes me want to backtrack and read the previous ones. Besides, I've fallen in love with Monty!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Bootlegger's Goddaughter (Gina Gallo #5) by Melodie Campbell

published by Raven Books

For sheer wackiness, character portrayals and laughter galore, you can't go wrong with Melodie Campbell's Gina Gallo mysteries! Rapid Reads give you a complete story in a novella, the perfect combo for Gina Gallo's exploits trying to escape her family "business" whatever it may be. No matter how hard she tries, she is always drawn in. But what do crows have to do with anything? Well, obviously everything, because as so-called harbingers of bad luck they are outdoing themselves in this latest book. Not to mention everything is screwing up her upcoming wedding. From being robbed to her wedding venue blowing up, and being shot at, she is not having a good day. Such is the life of a Sicilian goddaughter who is a don't-wannabe. Her continued efforts to stay out of the family businesses are hilarious and makes for a great series in a quick but full-fledged read. I love Gina Gallo's exploits.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Uneasy Spirits: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery Book 2 by M. Louisa Locke

reviewed from ebook

This is the first book by this author I have read, and I am sure to read more! I enjoy the history of Spiritualism in a time when palmists, palm readers, tarot, mediums and seances were extremely popular. One thing I found interesting in the book was the beginning of each chapter featuring a news headline, which I firmly believe is an actual headline from the 1870s. That said, this is a particularly well-written story with great character portrayals. The book is suspenseful, intriguing, and strangely captivating in its portrayal. The characters are consistent, except possibly in the case of Evie May. Evie May is totally unique and fascinating. Who is Evie Mae really? Annie Fuller, hearing some possibly unscrupulous practices about a mesmerist and a medium who hold seances, decides to investigate, hoping to to help save her clients and other people from being duped. Aside from the investigation, the book is really in the category of a "mystic" but deadly mystery, and I for one am glad to see it is a series. I can hardly wait to both catch up by reading Book 1, then following the further adventures of Annie. M. Louisa Locke is the perfect author for this series. I loved it!