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.