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.