The Doll by Taylor Stevens is a thriller with heart-racing action, unexpected twists and dangerous turns.
The main character, Vanessa Munroe, can changThe Doll by Taylor Stevens is a thriller with heart-racing action, unexpected twists and dangerous turns.
The main character, Vanessa Munroe, can change herself and "become" whatever she needs to be to survive. She's a fighter. More importantly, she is a survivor. In The Doll, she gets kidnapped and taken into an underground world in Dallas where women and girls are sold, used and abused. This world and the women forced there are controlled by a man known as the Doll Maker. He captures women and young girls and sells them.
Munroe has not only herself to save, but also a young girl, Neeva, who also has escaped. Munroe doesn't want to be saddled with Neeva, but Munroe knows if she doesn't take Neeva with her, Neeva will either be killed or taken back into slavery.
Munroe is used to violence. Most of her life has been marked by violence. She can speak multiple languages and she knows how to fight and how to survive. She could escape and disappear into the shadows, but she'll have to take Neeva back to the Doll Maker, even though she knows what will happen to her.
Munroe will have to decide between Neeva and someone she dearly loves. I give The Doll a rating of Hel-of-a-Ride. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This is a dark book. Women and young girls being kidnapped and used in sex trade. It took me a while to realize the book was set, not in some far away country, but in Dallas. But the story moves at a fast clip and will keep you turning pages. ...more
I downloaded What She Saw from Audible and listened to it on my iPad. The main character, Jenna, has lost her memory. In the opening, she is on a traiI downloaded What She Saw from Audible and listened to it on my iPad. The main character, Jenna, has lost her memory. In the opening, she is on a train and has no idea how or why she's there, let alone where she's going. She also has no idea why she has amnesia. When the train stops, she gets off and decides to stay since the area seems a bit familiar. But since she remembers almost nothing, she has to find not only her life, but also herself.
What She Saw moves quickly with unexpected turns and dark secrets. There are no dull moments as the action and plot moves at a fast pace. As Jenna tries to find who she is, she realizes she must be very careful about who she trusts. Some things are familiar, some are not. People who seem to know her are strangers to her.
This is the first Sheila Lowe book I've read, so I can't compare it to others in the Forensic Handwriting Mysteries. This one is a page turner with lots of twists. It's fast-paced and will pull you into Jenna's world, along with her fears, doubts, and, in the end, her strength and determination.
If you like thrillers or suspense, I recommend What She Saw. ...more
The Roses Underneath by C.F. Yetman is an historical novel set in a time of war. But it's not about the war. It's about Anna and her daughter Amalia.The Roses Underneath by C.F. Yetman is an historical novel set in a time of war. But it's not about the war. It's about Anna and her daughter Amalia. The Roses Underneath is about survival. And hope … and love and fear and a time period that should not be forgotten.
From the opening paragraph of The Roses Underneath, you see and feel how desperate the conditions are for Anna. She eats a spoonful of lard for her breakfast and brushes her teeth with her finger. Anna does not make enough for child care, but she does find a spot where Amalia can sit and Anna can see her from her office window. She finally gets a job working for the Americans and is able to make enough money to buy bread for her and Amalia. She is making enough that she and Amalia can survive.
Because she can speak English, she is recruited to help the Americans find and catalog the stolen art. She begins working at the Collecting Point of the American Army's Monuments Men. As she begins to help find stolen art and to translate, she begins to trust the Army architect she is assigned to. But there are others she cannot trust. Her life is better, but it is also tenuous.
The Roses Underneath is not a book to read and forget. It will stay with you. It will touch you. You will see yourself in Anna. You will worry for Amalia. You will come to know the people in Anna's life. And you will be taken back to a time and a war that you've read about in history books. With The Roses Underneath, you can live that time through Anna.
I give The Roses Underneath a rating of Hel-of-a-Time. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ FTC Disclaimer: The Roses Underneath was sent to me by C.F. Yetman's publicist. I read the book because it was interesting. I kept reading it because it was captivating. I have a feeling that if you begin reading it, you, too, will keep reading....more
A Wilder Rose: Rose Wilder Lane, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Their Little Houses was written by Susan Wittig Albert. It's a really interesting book, forA Wilder Rose: Rose Wilder Lane, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Their Little Houses was written by Susan Wittig Albert. It's a really interesting book, for many reasons.
You can tell that Susan did her research. Her writing takes you back to the 1930s, a time of depression and dust storms. Have you ever read Little House in the Big Woods? If not, have you seen the TV series based on Laura Ingalls Wilder's books? If you can say yes to either question, then I suspect you'll find this book very interesting. It takes you back to that time period and you'll learn about how Laura Ingalls Wilder's books were written and how they came to be published. You also learn about her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. This book is primarily about Rose.
At the front of the book, Susan has written A Note to the Reader. It's only a page and a half long, but once you read it, you'll see how much research Susan did to write this book. All that research paid off because the characters feel as real as if they were still alive today.
I found it fascinating to read about this time period and the relationship between Rose and Laura. No one at that time wrote down conversations or the words that were spoken, but Susan Wittig Albert does a great job of giving them voices that feel true.
I recommend A Wilder Rose and give it a rating of Hel-of-a-Story....more
Forgiving Effie Beck is Karen Casey Fitzjerrell's second book. Her ﬁrst book, The Dividing Season, won the EPIC Award for Best Historical Fiction. EffForgiving Effie Beck is Karen Casey Fitzjerrell's second book. Her ﬁrst book, The Dividing Season, won the EPIC Award for Best Historical Fiction. Effie Beck’s story takes place during the Great Depression and is told through multi-points of view, though mostly the reader will “see” the world through the eyes of Mike Lemay, an interviewer for the Federal Writers' Project.
Effie Beck, an elderly ranch woman is reported missing in the ﬁrst pages of the book. Mike Lemay is drawn into the search for the woman and discovers she had secrets that no one knew about. Through Mike’s interviews we learn about other people in town, not all of them lovable, and none of them are paper dolls. They come across as real people with real feelings, problems, joys, and secrets. You can tell Fitzjerrell did her research on the time period and place. She seamlessly settles you into the hearts of the town’s people and into times long gone.
Over the course of the book, people accept Mike as one of their own. He discovers some things he doesn't want to know. But most of all, he discovers truths about himself -- and Jodean Travis, the young woman who rents him a room.I'd like to read another book set in this town with these people. This time is long gone, but so very relevant to today's world....more
The President's Hat is a book by Antoine Laurain. The book starts in a Parisian brasserie. An accountant, Daniel Mercier, is astonished to see PresideThe President's Hat is a book by Antoine Laurain. The book starts in a Parisian brasserie. An accountant, Daniel Mercier, is astonished to see President Francois Mitterrand sit down to eat at the table next to him. He's even more surprised when Mitterrand leaves, forgetting to take his black felt hat.
From the moment Mercier picks up the hat and puts it on his head, he changes. In fact, his life changes. He sets out with the idea that he will return the hat, but the hat makes such a difference in his life that he can't give it up. He becomes more sure of himself. He moves up in the status of life. The lives of those around him change.
Mercier is not the only one affected by the President's hat. When he loses it, someone else picks it up. And their life changes.
The President's Hat was interesting. I enjoyed watching (or reading) the changes that occur because of a hat. It’s not that the hat is magical. It's more about what the hat symbolizes to each individual who puts it on and then sees themselves differently.
Just under 200 pages, The President's Hat is not a long book. It kept me reading, though. I enjoyed seeing the changes these people underwent, all because of how the hat made them feel and how others saw them. I give The President's Hat a rating of Hel-of-an-Idea. ...more
The Suicide Shop by Jean Teule (the last name should have an accent mark over the final "e", but I have no clue how to insert that) is book of black hThe Suicide Shop by Jean Teule (the last name should have an accent mark over the final "e", but I have no clue how to insert that) is book of black humor. Long ago, there used to be a cartoon character who always walked with a black cloud hanging above his head. His sadness was nothing compared to the invisible black clouds that follow these characters. Everyone in the Tuvache family, along with just about everyone in their town, is depressed. Their only joy is The Suicide Shop, which carries a vast array of ways to kill yourself.
No one smiles when they come to the shop, even when they find the perfect-for-them suicide tools.
But then the unthinkable happens. A happy child is born to the Tuvache family and he refuses to step into the darkness and follow his family. He is the oddball in town and an enigma to his family.
This book was almost depressing, as person after person comes into the shop looking for ways to kill themselves. The Tuvaches have an unlimited list of methods to get the job done. And yet, there is Alan's tiny smile and joy that bring light to the shop, much to the chagrin of the family and shoppers.
Can the smile of one boy change his family? His town? Or will he succumb to the doom and gloom?
If you like dark humor, you'll probably like this book. I give The Suicide Shop a rating of Hel-of-a-Twist....more
Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman is an intimate look at the actor, Christian Bale, by his assistant and former publicist, HarrisChristian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman is an intimate look at the actor, Christian Bale, by his assistant and former publicist, Harrison Cheung, along with reporter Nicola Pittam. According to Cheung, he's the one who rocketed Bale to stardom.
Cheung began an online fan site for Bale long before such sites were the norm. The Internet was still pretty much in its infancy. For years, he focused on Bale and was the driving force behind Bale's rise to stardom. So much so, that Bale eventually hired him. Cheung ended up living and working with Bale for almost ten years.
The book doesn’t focus on Cheung, though. It's a tale of Bale, who doesn’t come across as a particularly likable person. Cheung does, however, show how committed and driven he is. Bale throws himself completely into characters. Doing whatever it took to become that character, including losing incredible amounts of weight when the role called for it. He would change himself into that character. At times, Bale is unable to control his anger, either with his family or on set. He does, also, come across as an actor totally immersed in the characters he played and dedicated to stepping into their skin, no matter the cost to himself.
We are taken from when Christian Bale was a child actor to years later when he took on his most known role as Batman in the movie, The Dark Knight. And I admit that as soon as I finished reading Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman, I loaded my copy of The Dark Knight and watched it. Having a new understanding of the actor, I saw the movie and the role differently. Knowing how completely Christian Bale becomes the character he's playing makes you worry about what kind of toll it takes on him. This book isn't a fan book. Christian doesn't always come across as likable. But in ways, it helps the reader understand Christian. Cheung shows the sad childhood of Bale. Keeping the family afloat and housed fell on Bale's shoulders, even as a child.
This is an interesting book, whether you're in the movie industry or not. For those who are entering the field, it can be a cautionary tale. For those of us who are not, it's a look behind the red curtain and into obsession.
I give Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman a rating of Hel-of-a-Story. ************** Disclaimer: I do not know Christian Bale. I do not know Harrison Cheung, although I did meet him when we were both doing readings at Central Market....more
The Edge of Black by J.T. Ellison is fast-paced. It moves from Washington to Colorado and back, as Samantha, "Sam", and Xander try to find out who relThe Edge of Black by J.T. Ellison is fast-paced. It moves from Washington to Colorado and back, as Samantha, "Sam", and Xander try to find out who released a pathogen into the Washington Metro, killing three people. Sam and Xander are dating, so they're juggling the start of their relationship with this case that has to be solved before more people die.
This is the second in a series starring Samantha Owens, a forensic pathologist. I, however, felt this book had duo lead characters -- Sam and Xander. The two of them work well together and complement each other with their viewpoints and skills. They have to find out who's behind the release of the pathogen and why.
They also have to determine whether this was a mass attack or an assassination. And heating on the back burner is the question of whether their relationship will go to the next level.
The Edge of Black is a fast read. Not because it's short, because it's not. It's a fast read because I kept picking it up and reading instead of doing other things that needed to be done. It has a lot of interesting side characters, action, twists, and just a tad of a growing romance.
I give The Edge of Black a rating of Hel-of-a-Situation...more
The Bughouse Affair, by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini, is the first in their Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery series. This series is set in the nineThe Bughouse Affair, by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini, is the first in their Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery series. This series is set in the nineteenth century in San Francisco and stars Sabina Carpenter (a former Pinkerton operative) and John Quincannon (an ex-Secret Service agent).
The time period allows for an interesting backdrop to the story. We get to see the Barbary Coast as it was at that time. There are even pirates and what we today would call whore houses, but back then were called houses of joy. And, yes, of course there are murders and robbery and thievery, and even piracy. There's even a man claiming to be Sherlock Holmes. But how can he be Sherlock Holmes? Holmes is dead ... or isn't he?
Carpenter and Quincannon remind me of Sherlock and Watson. Carpenter and Quincannon are working separate cases and don't work together often, but they employ the same methods of detection and deducing. When their separate cases come together, they join forces to solve both of the cases they were working.
I especially enjoyed seeing a female detective on equal footing of the male, which I suspect would have been unusual in this time period. The story and the characters are believable and strong. It doesn't take long to pick up on the lingo of the time and it's fun to trek along with them through the streets and bowels of early day San Francisco. They go and search many places that I, a wimp, would have avoided.
This has the makings of a new great series. So, if you like historical mysteries, get The Bughouse Affair and get in on it from the beginning.
I give The Bughouse Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini a rating of Hel-of-a-Story. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by a publicist with Tor/Forge. I was asked if I would like to read the book. I said yes. I was not asked to write a review. But I did. I have never met Marcia Muller. Nor have I ever met Bill Pronzini. I have never met John Quincannon, nor have I met Sabina Carpenter. Okay, the last two are characters, not real people, although they seemed real as I read their story. In fact, I think perhaps Sabina and I are related. Cousins, once or thrice removed. I mean, we must be. Carpenter was my maiden name. If Muller and Pronzini ever set one of the series' books in Austin, I'll invite Sabina over for tea and barbecue. That's what cousins do. ...more
The Seven Wonders is the latest in Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series, set in ancient Rome. There are now 13 books in the series. This one, though,The Seven Wonders is the latest in Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series, set in ancient Rome. There are now 13 books in the series. This one, though, instead of being a sequel, is a prequel. It takes readers back to the beginning, or actually, before the beginning of the series.
In The Seven Wonders, the protagonist, Gordianus, is 18 years old and he sets off with Antipater of Sidon as his guide. Their journey takes them on a tour of the Seven Wonders of the World. Of course, as readers, we go along on the journey.
I found the book fascinating. We're taken back to the year 92 B.C. as we travel with Gordianus and Antipater to Greece and Asia Minor to Babylon and Egypt. We see the beginnings of the Olympic Games. We not only see the wonders of the world, we go inside them. We're introduced to the politics of the time.
Discovery by discovery, experience by experience, we follow Gordianus as he comes of age. There are murders; travel by sea, foot and camel; plotting; love; new experiences; and unexpected twists.
What I most enjoyed was seeing the Seven Wonders. I've never seen even one in real life. Through this book, I saw them all and got to see what they looked like centuries ago, both inside and out. I also got to see the beginnings of the Olympics and the people of this time period.
Saylor shows all of this through the action, conversation, and eyes of the characters. He does it without teaching or preaching. For me, it was a page-turner of a book.
I give The Seven Wonders a rating of Hel-of-a-Book....more
Here's the back cover blurb for Every Day by David Leviathan:
I wake up.
Immediately, I have to figure out who I am. It's not just the body -- opening mHere's the back cover blurb for Every Day by David Leviathan:
I wake up.
Immediately, I have to figure out who I am. It's not just the body -- opening my eyes and discovering whether the skin on my arm is light or dark, whether my hair is long or short, whether I'm fat or thin, boy or girl, scarred or smooth. The body is the easiest thing to adjust to, if you're used to waking up in a new one each morning. It's the life, the context of the body, that can be hard to grasp.
Every day I am someone else. I am myself -- I know I am myself -- but I am also someone else.
It has always been like this.
Now, if that doesn't make you want to read the book, I don't know what would. It drew me in, for sure.
Let me just state right up front that Every Day is fabulous and the author is brilliant. And, no, I don't know the author and no one is paying me to say that. I…loved…this…book. It was the first thing I picked up each morning. I wanted to see who he would be that day. I wanted to know if he would find his way back to the girl he fell in love with. I wanted to know if there would ever be a day when things would change for him and he would not skip from body to body, girl to boy, place to place.
He's never in the same body twice. And every day he has to adjust to who he is for that day. He has to try to take on their persona so as not to totally disrupt their life. After all, tomorrow he will be gone and the body he leaves would have to suffer the consequences if he screws up.
And he has to keep his secret. Not let anyone know about his body skipping. What would be the consequences? To him? To the body he's inhabiting that day? He knows the danger. And, yet, there comes a time when he's willing to take that risk. Even though he knows it won't make a difference. He'll still skip to the next body.
Let me state again, I really, really, liked this book. So, yes, I recommend it.
I give Every Day a rating of Hel-of-an-Author/Book...more
Baby Shark's Showdown at Chigger Flats is the fifth in Robert Fate's Baby Shark series. I've read them all. I've loved them all.
Her sidekick is Otis MBaby Shark's Showdown at Chigger Flats is the fifth in Robert Fate's Baby Shark series. I've read them all. I've loved them all.
Her sidekick is Otis Millett, a private investigator. They're a team. But in Baby Shark's Showdown at Chigger Flats, Baby Shark, whose given name is Kristin Van Dijk, is fighting on her own for the majority of the book. She's fighting for Otis' life. She's going to have to find him, get past the guns guarding him and save him. And she's up against some really bad folks.
Showdown at Chigger Flats, set in 1960, starts fast. From page one Otis and Kristin are in a gun fight. It picks up speed from there. And keeps racing to the end. Will Kristin be able to get to Otis in time? Or will he be dead by the time she shoots her way through those standing between her and Otis?
This really is one of those books that starts fast and doesn't let up until the end. It kept me turning pages. I also like that this one put Kristin front and center. For a big chunk of the book, she fought alone, facing down some really nasty folks. She's a hero because she's not only willing to do what has to be done, she does it.
Opening Baby Shark's Showdown at Chigger Flats was like slipping into my most comfortable pajamas. Reading it was like being in a heart-racing cross-country bike-a-thon. Finishing it was like saying goodbye to a friend.
It did leave me with a question. Robert, when will the next Baby Shark book be out?
I give Baby Shark's Showdown at Chigger Flats a rating of Hel-of-a-Character. ...more
The sub-title for The Five O'Clock Follies is: What's a Woman Doing Here, Anyway? Well, that was intriguing to me. Theasa Tuohy's book is a "novel ofThe sub-title for The Five O'Clock Follies is: What's a Woman Doing Here, Anyway? Well, that was intriguing to me. Theasa Tuohy's book is a "novel of the press in Vietnam." That, also, caught my attention since Vietnam had such an impact on our country. It's already gotten good reviews from well-known authors, as well as Kirkus. Here's my take on it.
I liked it.
It kept me turning pages. The main character, Angela, arrives in Vietnam, determined to cover the war. She has no paper behind her. But Angela is determined and strong and resourceful. She is also a freelancer who steps into a raging war where the male reporters are not exactly happy about her arrival.
What, for me, made this such a good book is that the author, Tuohy, focuses on the people, not the war, although the war rages and motivates the characters. It is the characters who carry the story. Their dedication to covering the truth, their emotions and feelings, their decisions and determination. There's even room for a bit of romance in the midst of war.
The author, Theasa Tuohy, has worked for the Associated Press, as well as five daily newspapers. She is able to bring the war to the reader's doorstep. The Vietnam war is no longer history. There are scenes that will stick with you, whether you want them to or not. But it's not all war. When not out in the war zone, reporters have down time -- and Tuohy includes those scenes as well. We come to know the characters. They come to life in our heads. They stick with you after you put the book down.
The book also includes some pictures from the Vietnam war. The Five O'Clock Follies is based on reality but it is fiction with legs. It'll keep you running from one page to the next.
I give The Five O'Clock Follies a rating of Hel-of-a-Time....more
Iced Chiffon is set in Savannah, Georgia. How could I not read a book set in my birth state? Plus, it's a cozy murder mystery -- the first in the ConsIced Chiffon is set in Savannah, Georgia. How could I not read a book set in my birth state? Plus, it's a cozy murder mystery -- the first in the Consignment Shop series by Duffy Brown.
The main character, Reagan, is recently divorced, strapped for money, about to possibly lose her home, and trying to keep her head above water. To make money, she turns her home into a consignment shop and begins selling her clothes. The women of Savannah show up to gossip and to buy, and they also bring things for her to sell.
Reagan gets caught up in a murder -- her ex-husband's mistress -- and sets out to discover the real murderer… before the police pin the murder on her. This is a town where everyone knows everyone, and your business is their business.
It's an easy, interesting read with characters who are southern, unique and full grown. It's often funny and will keep you guessing as to the real murderer. You'll also like Reagan who runs at full speed, her friends who help her start and keep open her new in-home shop, and her commitment to solving the murder.
Not only will you keep guessing, you'll keep reading.
I give Iced Chiffon a rating of Hel-of-a-Debut....more
Out of Our Minds is a short story collection written by members of the North Texas Professional Writers Association. The authors are not out of theirOut of Our Minds is a short story collection written by members of the North Texas Professional Writers Association. The authors are not out of their minds, but the stories are now out of their minds and in a book. There are 36 stories in this collection, so you'll find something for everyone.
There are sweet love stories, funny stories, stories that touch the heart and the mind. Some that will make you almost cry and some that will have you laughing out loud. There's murder, mayhem, romance, mystery, even poetry.
An Act of Mercy by Darrell D. Bartell was one that I especially liked. It has a great twist at the end.
Both A Matter of Taste by Charlotte Schreck Burns and The Excavation by Darrell D. Bartell made me laugh.
Broken Glass by LaNelle Pierce teaches forgiveness.
The Lifeline, also by LaNelle Pierce, made me want to cry.
These are only a few of the stories. I like short story anthologies because often I only have a few minutes to read at a time. With Out of Our Minds, I could read a story while taking a work break.
There is something for everyone. I liked all the stories. I listed some of the stories here just to show that there's a wide variety.
Check out Out of Our Minds and be sure to read the author bios in the back.
I give Out Of Our Minds a rating of Hel-of-a-Group-of-Writers. ...more
Demon in the Basement by Laura Eno is a wonderful collection of short stories, ranging from creepy to spooky to downright scary. None of them are espeDemon in the Basement by Laura Eno is a wonderful collection of short stories, ranging from creepy to spooky to downright scary. None of them are especially long, so you can read one when taking a break or while having lunch. All you brave souls could even read them before going to bed.
If you're reading at night, though, you might want to skip Moonrise for the Dead.
I liked every story. Each one either gave me the shivers or make me turn pages quickly so I could see what was going to happen. It's hard to pick a favorite story since each one is unique.
I liked all the stories, but The Sound of Silence stuck with me. It's rather quiet. Soft. With a twisted end.
The final story, and the longest, is called Demon in the Basement. It definitely is a scary end to the book.
Overall, I'm just amazed at Laura Eno's imagination and writing skills. If you like creepy, scary stories, this is the short story anthology for you or for a friend.
I give Demon in the Basement by Laura Eno a rating of Hel-of-an-Imagination. ************** Disclaimer: Demon in the Basement was given to me by the author. This did not influence my review. I was rather influenced by the cover, though. It's really creepy, you know? That's scary enough. But, of course, it's not enough, not by itself. The 381 pages of creepiness inside the cover -- now that's enough. Read each story without rushing to the next one. I suggest you read with the lights on and not before going to bed. As Laura says on the back cover: "Leave a nightlight on before you go to sleep. Something's coming for you." Makes you wonder what goes on inside Laura Eno's head, doesn't it? ...more
A Suitable Husband was written by S.B.Lerner. Not sure what category this would fall in. Definitely historical since it's set in the 1930s. It's a comA Suitable Husband was written by S.B.Lerner. Not sure what category this would fall in. Definitely historical since it's set in the 1930s. It's a coming of age book since Bianca grows into herself and becomes a woman surviving difficult and horrific times. It's also a bit of a romance since she learns what love really is.
I guess the category I would put it in is: Good.
It's set in Poland during a time dangerous for the Jewish. Everything's falling apart - the government, Poland's economy, society, and Bianca's life. Bianca's been sheltered most of her life. Opening her eyes to the situation, her family's plight, and her own circumstances is a shock for her. She doesn't want to give up the way her life had been, but there's no turning back. She must decide what path her life will take and what she will do to survive.
I liked A Suitable Husband because it took me to places I've never been. It set me amidst lives and people I came to like and respect. S.B. Lerner puts you in the middle of a haunting time period with characters you care for and worry about.
I give A Suitable Husband a rating of Hel-of-a-Time **************** Disclaimer: If I remember right, the author sent this book to me. That did not influence my review. I was influenced by the setting, the time period and the subject matter. I don't believe Lerner ever used the word "persecution," yet Bianca's story and the story of her family plops you right down in the middle of the persecution. You can feel the fear, understand the hopes, and taste the pain. That did influence my review. ...more
When the Past Haunts You by L.C. Hayden is the latest in her Harry Bronson Mysteries series. Despite the word "haunts" in the title, there aren't anyWhen the Past Haunts You by L.C. Hayden is the latest in her Harry Bronson Mysteries series. Despite the word "haunts" in the title, there aren't any ghosts in this story. Just memories, regrets, and pain, both emotional and physical, for Harry Bronson. His sister, whom he hasn't seen or spoken to in years is killed and dies in his arms.
Bronson, although retired from police work, sets out to find out who killed her. In the process, he untangles her past and comes to regret their falling out. His remorse has to be set aside, though, while he digs deep into her past and the years they were apart.
I've never read a Bronson mystery, but I quickly felt comfortable with Harry. By laying bare the life and missteps of his sister, we also see his regrets and failings. I quickly eased into the story and followed him on his quest and shared in his discoveries.
As happens in real life, Harry sometimes breaks the rules and he drags in his friends to help. And as in real life, he doesn’t always come out on top and he doesn't know everything. But like the rest of us, he picks himself up and he figures out what has to be done.
While he can't go back and save his sister's life, in the end, he'll have to save his own life.
When the Past Haunts You moves quickly. There's always action and discoveries. And while I was not too worried about Harry dying (it is a series, after all), I was worried for those around him since Bronson is up against some ruthless foes.
I give When the Past Haunts You a rating of Hel-of-a-Character. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Disclaimer: I know L. C. Hayden from long ago. I met her through Sisters in Crime. I've not seen her in years, though. She's quite active in the writing community. If I remember right, she, at some point, taught writing classes on cruises. Now that just sounds like a mighty fine gig to me. You get to go on a cruise AND talk about writing. I'd want to do that. Well, maybe not so much now with all the craziness with cruises lately. Seems like you're likely to either tip over or drift powerless in the middle of the ocean or get boarded by pirates. Maybe a cruise down or up the Mississippi. 'Course a few years ago, the Mississippi flooded. That wouldn't be much fun. You could end up like a dry docked Noah's Ark in somebody's back yard. Maybe I'll drop this idea of teaching on a cruise ship. I'd probably end up with sea sickness, anyway. Wait a minute, what was I supposed to be saying? Oh yeah. Disclaimer. Dis is what I claim…I know L.C. She probably doesn't remember me, but I’m sure I'm on her list of co-teachers for the next cruise she goes on. ...more
Going Home by Evelyn Palfrey is a romance, but probably not your typical romance. Yes, there's a man and a woman leading the story. But as Evelyn PalfGoing Home by Evelyn Palfrey is a romance, but probably not your typical romance. Yes, there's a man and a woman leading the story. But as Evelyn Palfrey says on the cover, she writes romance novels for the marvelously mature.
Thalia Allen has recently retired after 30 years on the job. She dreams of traveling, but then Hurricane Katrina invades New Orleans. Thalia doesn't live in New Orleans, though. She lives in Austin, Texas. But as the refugees begin to escape to the shelter in her home town, she steps up to help. She works at the shelter, taking her granddaughter along. Eventually, she takes Joe Lambert and his nephew Kyobe into her home.
I enjoyed reading Going Home. Katrina wasn't that long ago -- just long enough to see that time for what it was … chaos and tragedy for those involved. Joe wants to go back to New Orleans, back to his home and the crew who work for him, but he doesn't even have a car. He works hard to put together some money. And yet he's torn since he's starting to have feelings for Thalia.
Reading Going Home brought back that time, the shock, the fear, the helplessness. Even if you live far away from New Orleans, Evelyn Palfrey gives you a taste of that time. Despite the growing feelings between Thalia and Joe, he's determined to go home. Kyobe is just as determined, but the reason for his resolve is something neither Joe nor Thalia know anything about.
Evelyn Palfrey has quite a few books out in her Mavelously Mature series.
Going Home has lots of twists and turns and is set against a compelling backdrop. I give Going Home a rating of Hel-of-a-Character(s). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ FTC Disclaimer: I bought Going Home. This did not influence my review....more
Usually, I do book reviews, but in this case, I'm reviewing a short story called The Assassin's Mistress. This thriller short story was sent to me byUsually, I do book reviews, but in this case, I'm reviewing a short story called The Assassin's Mistress. This thriller short story was sent to me by the author, J.H. Bogran. I've written short stories before, but this is my first time to review one.
The assassin, Robert I. Prescott, saves the life of a woman, Chantal, who has skied off the cliff of a mountain and is hanging on with freezing fingers. Saving a life is new for him and this incident leads to an ongoing affair. Robert continues his work of killing those he's hired to take care of. He has no qualms about his avocation.
But then, he's assigned a job that could change his life, and, just as importantly, Chantal's life. He has to make a decision. What he does indeed changes lives, but not in the way he expected or hoped.
The Assassin's Mistress is only fourteen pages long, yet in that short time, you get to know the two main characters enough that you care about them. I don't know if there are other stories starring Robert Prescott, but I could certainly see a full book with him. Even with just this small piece, he was developed enough that he could carry a book, which would undoubtedly reveal more of his story.
I give The Assassin's Mistress a rating of Hel-of-a-Character because I'd like to read more Robert I. Prescott tales. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ FTC Disclaimer: The Assassin's Mistress was given to me by the author, J. H. Bogran. This did not influence my review. ...more
Her Deadly Web is a true crime by Diane Fanning. It's the story of Raynella Dossett Leath who found her husband in bed, dead from an apparent suicide.Her Deadly Web is a true crime by Diane Fanning. It's the story of Raynella Dossett Leath who found her husband in bed, dead from an apparent suicide. There were some concerns, though. For one thing, apparently 3 shots were fired. And this wasn't the first husband Raynella had lost. And she doesn't wait too long before tying the knot again.
Rather than tell you the ending, I'll tell you what I liked about the book. Diane Fanning has written many true crimes. As in the past, she does extensive research, which shows in the pictures, detailed interviews, and court records. The people are real. Diane does not let you forget that these are real people.
But this story isn't just about the suspicious deaths of one woman's husbands. It's also the tale of how status in a community can act as a barrier between a high-standing suspect and police arrest.
I don't read much true crime, but when I do, I read ones written by Diane Fanning. She does so much research and has such a way of using the truth to bring the people to life.
If you like true crime, I can recommend Her Deadly Web by Diane Fanning. If this had been fiction, I wouldn't have believed anyone could get away with such crimes for so long. I give Her Deadly Web a rating of Hel-of-a-Story. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ FTC Disclaimer: I bought Her Deadly Web with my own money. I don't like to spend money, but doing so did not influence my review. ...more
Red Cell by Mark Henshaw is non-stop action, from the opening chapter to the final word. Rookie case officer, Kyra Stryker, after almost losing her liRed Cell by Mark Henshaw is non-stop action, from the opening chapter to the final word. Rookie case officer, Kyra Stryker, after almost losing her life on an assignment in Venezuela, is brought back to Langley where she joins the CIA’s Red Cell and is paired up with analyst Jonathan Burke. That pairing takes Stryker and Burke from Langley to China to impending war in the South China Sea.
Red Cell is an intense, fast moving read that’ll keep you turning pages. Lives are on the line and war is rumbling like a dark cloud overhead. What makes Red Cell even more intense is knowing that the author, Mark Henshaw, knows what he’s writing about. Henshaw is a decorated CIA analyst and was awarded the Director of National Intelligence Galileo Award. And he is a former member of the CIA’s Red Cell think tank.
But as much as the book is about Henshaw and Stryker, it is also about Red Cell’s undercover operative, called Pioneer, in the People’s Republic of China. At constant risk of life, he passes on information to his handlers, knowing that at any time he could be found out and killed by his own countrymen.
There’s a lot of action in Red Cell, with time to catch your breath along the way. As the intensity built, though, I found myself reading faster, wanting to find out if Pioneer would survive as the MSS close in on him and if the U.S. warships in the South China Sea can win the air war and stop an invasion of Taiwan.
I give Red Cell by Mark Henshaw a rating of Hel-of-a-Story. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ FTC Disclaimer: Red Cell was sent to the Heart of Texas chapter of Sisters in Crime by Shida Carr with Simon & Schuster. HoTSinC then sent it on to me to review. Getting the book for free did not influence my review. ...more
Immortal Desires is a paranormal romantic suspense by Laura Eno. Deanna Cameron is a modern 20th century woman. After being dumped at the altar, she tImmortal Desires is a paranormal romantic suspense by Laura Eno. Deanna Cameron is a modern 20th century woman. After being dumped at the altar, she takes a job at Light Street Corporation. The company, however, is not what it seems. Before long, she finds herself in a castle with a man named Ian Mackay. Sounds rather like a typical Romance. Not really, because now it's the year 1505, not 2012. And her very presence there could cause the end of Mackay clan and the end of Deanna's life.
Deanna Cameron may be hurt after being dumped at the altar, but she's a strong woman - stronger than she would have thought when her world fell apart. I liked that Laura Eno wrote her as someone who could stand up for herself even while trapped in time. And when she finds love, she fights for it. I know nothing about the 16th century, but the people, places and emotions felt believable. It was interesting to learn about that time and place as Deanna Cameron did.
There are a lot of questions in the book. Will she ever get back to 2012? Can she adjust to this new time and place? Will there be a war partly because of her mysterious appearance at the castle? What will Ian MacKay do to her? She is, afterall, a Cameron and the Cameron clan are his enemies.
Immortal Desires is, I believe, the first book in Laura Eno's Well of Souls series. I like meeting new characters and going to places I've never been. Immortal Desires not only took me to a new place, it took me into a new, to me, time period. Deanna Cameron went from a woman losing herself after being dumped to a woman able to stand up for herself and change history.
I give Immortal Desires a rating of Hel-of-a-Character. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ FTC Disclaimer: The author, Laura Eno sent me this book. That surprised me, but it did not influence my review. I was influenced by Deanna Cameron's ability to adjust to time travel. ...more
I believe The Lies Have It is the third in Jill Edmondson's Sasha Jackson Mystery series. I've read and reviewed the first two, Dead Light District anI believe The Lies Have It is the third in Jill Edmondson's Sasha Jackson Mystery series. I've read and reviewed the first two, Dead Light District and Blood and Groom. I like Sasha. She's tenacious. She gets a case or two or three and she keeps working until she solves them. She doesn't zip around town in a red sports car having meetings with the rich and famous. She hoofs it or takes public transportation. She doesn't slip into an evening dress and glide into a celebrity ball unnoticed. She doesn't pretend to be something-- oh, wait a minute. She does dress appropriate to the occasion, like in The Lies Have It, which starts with Sasha working the bar at a fetish party at The Stealth Lounge.
And from there, we follow her into places and lives both troubled and fascinating. Edmondson makes Toronto come alive on the page. She makes me want to go there. She brings even minor characters to life. Here's an example. This is from page 22. Sasha and a friend have been discussing one of the participants at the fetish party:
I folded my arms across my chest, and pressed my knees closer together than words in a dictionary. Right now, I kind of wished I were wearing a medieval chastity belt.
From that, you have no idea what or who has caused this reaction, but you know this may be a coming out party, but there are no debutantes attending. Some parts of The Lies Have It would probably be rated R, although not overly graphic. I figure that will entice as many buyers as it will scare away.
Sasha tends to take the cases other investigators won't. And because she's willing to tromp around in grunge clothes, talk to street people, and go where others won't, she solves problems, she finds people, and she steps into situations that sometimes turn out very bad. But more of them turn out very good.
The story moves fast. I would estimate the book is about 10 to 20 percent prose and the rest is dialogue. When Sasha works a case, she doesn't sit in an office. She's out on the streets finding answers and finding people.
I give The Lies Have It and Sasha Jackson a rating of Hel-of-a-Character. ...more
False Front by Diane Fanning is the latest in the Lucinda Pierce mystery series. Pierce is a Homicide Investigator who’s called out to a home where aFalse Front by Diane Fanning is the latest in the Lucinda Pierce mystery series. Pierce is a Homicide Investigator who’s called out to a home where a woman has been found hanging from the second floor balcony. Suicide or murder? This is not Pierce’s first time to a scene like this and she’s not jumping to any conclusions.
But this is not just a book about Pierce trying to unknot the twists in the case. It’s also about her boyfriend, FBI Special Agent in Charge Jake Lovett, who’s off on a case of his own, which involves a murder three decades old. Their two cases collide, though, when Lovett comes across a connection between them. Sharing notes and information doesn’t necessarily make things easier.
Lucinda Pierce is a formidable protagonist. She’s smart, determined, loving and flawed. You would want her on your side. You would not want to be on her wrong side. The case is complicated with lots of twists.
This is not my first book by Diane Fanning nor my first Lucinda Pierce book. In 2009, I reviewed Punish the Deed and in 2010 I reviewed Twisted Reason.
Each Lucinda Pierce book gets more complex. While each paints a cold picture of crime and evil, Fanning also lets us see a warm still-developing picture of Lucinda Pierce.
I give False Front by Diane Fanning a rating of Hel-of-a-Character. ...more
The Dividing Season by Karen Casey Fitzjerrell is historical fiction. Under her hand, though, the place, people, and time come alive. The main charactThe Dividing Season by Karen Casey Fitzjerrell is historical fiction. Under her hand, though, the place, people, and time come alive. The main character, Nell Miggins, lives in tough times, but the times have not made her tough. They have, however, made her strong. Her way of thinking and living were different from mine, but her desires and worries are ones I could identify with.
She runs a Texas cattle ranch handed down to her by her father. She is not totally alone because she has men working for her who help to herd the cattle and take care of the ranch. She has reached a time in her life when she wants more. She wants to travel, to step out of her normal life, even though she is past the time when she might have married and had children. She also accepts that she’s past the time when she might have found love.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Dividing Season. It moves quickly. The characters emerge as real and unique people. Nell Miggins charts her own path and accepts the consequences of her decisions. The story felt real and true to the time period and place. Each character is well-defined and brought to life.
There’s a lot of action and adventure in the story, but the true glory of the story are the characters.
I give The Dividing Season a rating of Hel-O! I believe this is Karen Casey Fitzjerrell’s first book. I am tapping fingers as I wait for the next. ...more
Archive of Fire, Sentinel Book One by Betsy Dornbausch is a dark urban fantasy. Twins Aidan and Kaelin have been trained by their mother to fight andArchive of Fire, Sentinel Book One by Betsy Dornbausch is a dark urban fantasy. Twins Aidan and Kaelin have been trained by their mother to fight and kill since they were young kids. She has told them their father descended from the demon Asmodai. When the book starts, they are teenagers and nothing has ever happened. Until their mother disappears and they are kidnapped by their father. They reluctantly join their father and the Sentinel, a coalition of demidemon rebels who work to protect humans from demons.
The twins end up separated and unsure who to trust. They join with the demidemons to protect humankind, but that means trusting their father. And when their mother returns, they’re not sure they can trust her either.
Humans can’t detect the demons and demidemons, so they don’t see what goes on around them. The story is complicated, but woven well. The twins get separated and aren’t sure if either will survive.
I don’t know if this is classified as adult or YA, but either group could read it. There’s a lot of fighting and pain, and in places it was intense. On the other hand, it’s also a tale of two brothers finding their way in a world they didn’t know existed.
I give Archive of Fire by Betsy Dornbausch a rating of Hel-of-a-Story....more
Child of Silence is the first in Abigail Padgett’s Bo Bradley Mystery series. I believe there are eight other books out in the series. Child of SilencChild of Silence is the first in Abigail Padgett’s Bo Bradley Mystery series. I believe there are eight other books out in the series. Child of Silence is very interesting with a lot of action. What most fascinated me was the main character, Bo Bradley. Bo, a child advocate deals with memories of her sister, as well as her own manic depression. Being in her mind brought her to life and kept me turning pages.
She’s called out to advocate for a young boy who’s found on the Barona Reservation tied to the mattress with a clothesline in an abandoned house. Although he’s been labeled as retarded, Bo realizes he’s deaf. She not only advocates for the boy, she sets out to find out what happened to him and keep him from those hunting him. Her efforts to protect him put her in danger, even as she sinks deeper into her own depression since she’s on the run without her medication. Along the way, she breaks rules and enlists others in her quest.
I liked Child of Silence. It took me to places I’ve never been and inside a mind both fascinating and unknown. I will look for more in this series. I give Child of Silence a rating of Hel-of-a-Character. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ FTC Disclaimer: I downloaded the book for free. This did not influence my review. ...more