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 refered 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 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 realized 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 does 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 rendevous, 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. 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.