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Thursday, July 19, 2018

What Happened that Night by Sandra Block

Sandra Block's What Happened That Night is an intense examination of a brutal crime.  Justice or revenge?

After Harvard senior Dahlia is the victim of a callous rape, she drops out of school suffering from loss of memory and PTSD.  Eventually, she becomes a paralegal, and although the events of that night continue to haunt her, she remains unable to recall who was responsible.

Fortunately, Dahlia does have a good support system with her friends and makes an effort to endure the anger she continues to feel toward her unknown attackers.

Then a video of her rape appears online.  Dahlia is again humiliated, but her rage is fierce.  Now she knows where to begin to make payback for what she has suffered.  James, a co-worker, comes up with a plan....

If not entirely believable, you can't help but sympathize with Dahlia's determination to expose the young men who have gone on to live their lives without any repercussions. And Dahlia was not the only victim.  Of course, when the perpetrators realize that she knows who they are and is intent on unmasking them, they are not going to take it lying down.

Short chapters told from both Dahlia's and Jame's pov keep this novel moving rapidly.

NetGalley/Source Books

Crime/Suspense.  June 5, 2018.  Print length:  352 pages.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Expose by Danielle Girard

Expose is the third book in this series featuring Anna Swartzman, but the first I've read.

What I liked:  Hal.  The forensics.

Not so much:  Women tortured and killed by evil psychopath.  One psychopath isn't enough, so add Anna's ex-lover to the mix.  Oh, and a cliff-hanger.

Although I received this one from NetGalley, all three books in the series are available at KindleUnlimited.  

Read in June.  Blog review scheduled for July 17.

NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer

Mystery/Crime.  July 24, 2018.  Print length:  378 pages.

Just for fun...
Wrong Hands | Cartoons by John Atkinson. ©John Atkinson, Wrong Hands

Friday, July 13, 2018

A Measure of Darkness, Spring Shadow, and Summer Storm

A Measure of Darkness (Clay Edison #2)

Last year I read Crime Scene, the first in this series in which father and son collaborate and liked it very much.  (reviewed here)  

Long a fan of the Alex Delaware novels by Jonathan Kellerman and having enjoyed the first in the Clay Edison series, I genuinely looked forward to A Measure of Darkness.  

I'm sorry to say that this one didn't do much for me-- in characterization, plot, or writing.   In some places it seemed to try too hard, in others, not hard enough.  There were a couple of spots that I had to reread because I thought I'd missed something.  

Maybe it was just me because the ratings on Goodreads so far are three 5* and one 4*.  

Read in May; blog review scheduled for July 13.

NetGalley/Random House/Ballentine

Crime/Mystery.  July 31, 2018.  Print Length: 352 pages. 

I reviewed Winter Song, the first in this series a while back.  Spring Shadow is the second stand-alone mystery in the Seasons Pass series featuring Houston Homicide Detective Noah Daugherty.  

Noah, who trained as a classical musician, is assigned as  bodyguard/band member for a singer who has been threatened.  Paige is an up-and-comer in the country music business and the mayor doesn't want any bad publicity associated with scheduled outdoor concert--so a reluctant Noah becomes a babysitter for Paige. 

An entertaining mystery that keeps you a little off-balance about Paige's past and the identity and purpose of the stalker. 

Noah and his partner Connor are engaging characters, and we get more personal background about each in this book.  Watching characters gradually develop from book to book keeps a freshness to a series, and the plot is interesting.  While I didn't like it as much as the first book, Spring Shadow kept me involved throughout.

Kindle Unlimited

Crime/Mystery.  2016.  326 pages.

There have been a number of baby food scandals over the years (check Clean Label for some studies that list some of the toxins and heavy metals in various infant products).  Susan C. Muller's Summer Storm bases her mystery on the murder of a CEO of a company whose products target those vulnerable children requiring special diets.

Noah and Connor investigate the original murder, but find themselves bereft of suspects as each person who may have wanted CEO Madlyn Gwinn dead--ends up dead in turn.   

Powerful people attempt to avoid exposure and a hurricane threatens the city as Noah and Connor struggle to unravel this mystery.  Connor, whose wife is expecting their first child, has a personal concern, and Noah, having set himself a deadline associated with his past, is fighting his own demons.

Another good addition to Susan C. Muller's series.

(Stories that bring to light sometimes overlooked news reports intrigue me.  I was shocked at the content of some respected baby foods and infant formulas reviewed by Clean Label.)

Kindle Unlimited.

Crime/Suspense.  2017.  Print length:  288 pages.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker

I'm a fan of Kerry Wilkinson's Jessica Daniel series and have enjoyed several of his standalone novels.  The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker is the latest standalone to be released, merging mystery, YA, and paranormal.  It feels different from the other standalone novels by Wilkinson, but the premise hooked me from the beginning.

Eleanor wakes up and drags herself from a river.  Her memory of how she got there is a blank, but she is aware that someone held her under the water, drowning her.  She has bruises on her neck and chest marking the efforts of her killer.  

Eleanor can interact with people who see her and talk to her, but she doesn't eat, doesn't sleep, and doesn't feel pain.  She attempts to find out what happened at the party she attended before waking up in the river, trying to discover who was responsible for drowning her.  

A year previously, her brother's girlfriend Sarah was found in the same river.  Her brother Ollie went through a difficult time with the loss of the girl he loved and with the accusations, whispers, and rumors blaming him for Sarah's murder.  Even as Eleanor searches for her own killer, another young girl goes missing, and once again Ollie is under suspicion.

You have to be willing to accept the implausible and just let yourself be entertained.  The "suspension of disbelief" is required for a great deal of fiction, and although I questioned, I continued to enjoy this novel.  

Blog review scheduled for July 10.


Mystery/YA/Paranormal.  June 26, 2018.   

Friday, July 06, 2018

Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz

"The Nowhere Man is a legendary figure spoken about only in whispers. It's said that when he's reached by the truly desperate and deserving, the Nowhere Man can and will do anything to protect and save them."  --from description

Orphan X is a black ops assassin trained from childhood by an off-the-books government program that, as so many of these secret programs do, goes awry.  When ordered to kill another "orphan,"  Evan Smoak decides the problems in the program run too deep to ignore.  Using the training and finances he has received, Evan builds an untraceable life.  

What to do with the skills he has mastered?  Since he doesn't have an alternate career path, Evan embarks on missions to protect the innocent, his only requirement is that whomever he helps must pass his Nowhere Man name and number to someone else in difficult circumstances.  One mission at a time, Evan pursues the despicable evil-doers.

What I liked:  Exciting and full of adventurous action.  Kind of...action fantasy.

What I disliked:  1)  The emphasis on the aesthetic treatment of alcohol.  I mean, Evan doesn't drink much, but when he does the alcohol is really special--distilled 7 or 9 times, blah, blah, blah.   2)  Too many, too detailed fight scenes.  While realizing the need to establish his fighting skills and variety of techniques, describing it punch by jab becomes filler rather than fun.  I get it.  Hurwitz knows what he's talking about and/or has expert researchers.

OK--so Evan Smoak is a high-tech Jack Reacher.  Hurwitz gets a lot of background and details established in this first book and it is fun when things are moving.  It took me a little while to decide whether or not I liked it because of the excess of information setting up Evan's knowledge of alcohol, martial arts, and weapons, but I did end up enjoying it. Don't we all wish for a superhero kind of vigilante to defeat and punish the bad guys?

Once you accept that this is fantasy-vigilante-hero stuff--Orphan X is great fun.  I liked Evan Smoak and cheered him on, but a lot of bad people die.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Techno-thriller.  2016.  Print length:  367 pages

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Independence Day

Bas Bleu posted 18 Literary Quotes to Celebrate Independence Day 2018.  My favorite is the quote by Peter Marshall: 

“May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.” ―Peter Marshall

Each quote gives you something to think about, and in this country divided, we really need to examine what we think freedom and democracy mean.  I may be having trouble finding things to celebrate this year, but stopping to ponder each quote off and on all day may help me remember to hope.

Monday, July 02, 2018

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

I just read the NetGalley ARC of  Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson, a new series set in the world of The Remnant Chronicles!  I have a review scheduled, but since it will be another year before the next installment, I decided to go back and finish The Remnant Chronicles.  

I read The Kiss of Deception as an ARC in 2014 and got involved with the characters and adventure.  Although I planned to continue the trilogy,  somehow--you know how it goes--I missed the follow up books.

When I finished Dance of Thieves, rather than wait a year for the next adventure, eagerly ordered The Heart of Betrayal.

The Remnant Chronicles in order:

The Kiss of Deception
The Heart of Betrayal
The Beauty of Darkness

In  The Heart of Betrayal,  I was once again immersed in the lives of Lia, Rafe, and Kaden and to a lesser extent Griz, Pauline, Ebon and a few others.  Yes, it is a YA fantasy, and there is a love triangle.  But the political machinations, the greed for power, the world-building, and the suspense!   There is plenty of deception going on in Venda.

Mary E. Pearson is a skilled writer--her descriptions are excellent, and I could visualize so many of the scenes.   I love that she does this without giving you too many details of the characters' appearances.  No washboard abs, although muscles are mentioned (the guys are trained as soldiers or in Kaden's case, as an assassin, so muscles are OK). 

 Lia's description is also limited; we know she is dirty and ragged after the terrifying journey to Venda, but no emphasis on details of her eyes or hair or figure.  Thumbs up on that.  One problem I find with so many YA books is the cliche descriptions--as if young adults are incapable of visualizing better images of the characters.  

Even the love triangle isn't really a triangle.  The Heart of Betrayal is escapism and entertainment mixed with apprehension and suspense.  The villain is chilling, but even he has a bit of a backstory that makes him, not sympathetic, but more understandable.

Short chapters made it difficult to put down.  "Just one more chapter" kind of thing, and I didn't get much done on any of the mundane household chores until I finished!  A great follow-up to The Kiss of Deception.


YA Fantasy.  2015.  Print length: 470 pages.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Snap by Belinda Bauer

This is my first book by Belinda Bauer, but I will be looking for more.  Snap had me engrossed from first to last.

When their car breaks down, Jack and his two younger sisters are told to wait while their mother walks to phone for help; it is 1998 and not everyone had cell phones.  Ten minutes turns into hours in the hot car, and finally the children decide to get out and find their mother.  What they find is the dangling receiver of the emergency phone.  Eleven-year-old Jack immediately senses that something has gone terribly wrong.  

A few days later, the body of their pregnant mother is discovered; the family disintegration is rapid.  The father that Jack depended on is unable to cope, and Jack is angry.  Angry at the mother who "left" them and at the father who spends his time crying and who eventually abandons his children to fend for themselves.

Forced into being responsible for his younger sisters, Jack does everything he can think of to prevent authorities from realizing that the three children are now on their own.  The idea of being taken in by social services is unbearable, and Jack finds a kind of security from the most unlikely of sources.  His weird savior is Louis, who introduces Jack to thievery.  Learning to break into homes (Louis knows when the families will be absent), Jack becomes a skilled burglar and Louis acts as the fence.

While still a bit of a hand-to-mouth existence,  Jack is able to keep the family together and fed, and The Goldilocks Burglar frustrates police.  

When Jack is fourteen, he burgles a home that isn't empty and finds a knife that he is certain is the one that killed his mother.  This is the inciting moment that changes the course of the story.

Snap is an unusual mystery filled with intriguing characters.  Some of the characters that I initially disliked unexpectedly grew on me, that alone is a positive.   I found it an engrossing read that slowly connected several different threads.  In spite of the emotional aspect of a young boy doing his best to deal with his grief and the burden of responsibility to his sisters, Bauer manages to include some humor by including the unpredictable elements of human nature and relationships.   

Read in May.  Blog review scheduled for June 28.

Highly Recommended.

NetGalley/Grove Atlantic

July 13, 2018.  Print length:  352 pages.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe by Madeline Miller.  (I wrote about this on my other blog in April.  I'm just copying and pasting instead of writing another review)  

It was wonderful!  Beautiful prose and a fascinating look at myths and gods from the point of view of Circe, daughter of Helios, who drove his chariot of the sun across the sky each day.  Circe (unloved child, nymph, sorceress, witch) exiled to her island tells her version of the gods and heroes and monsters she knew.  

Circe has a depth that the other, more powerful gods lack.  She has the ability of introspection; she makes mistakes and regrets them.  She resents the power of both the Titans and the Olympians and stands against them as best she can.

Her first rebellion was a kindness to Prometheus when--as a timid child--she brought him nectar in secret.  Prometheus, the god who aided mortals, is aided by the young Circe; a theme develops. 

A few excerpts...

At one point, Circe speaks of her beautiful loom, a gift from Daedalus, innovator and craftsman:  "I have it still.  It sits near my hearth and has even found its way into the songs.  Perhaps that is no surprise, Poets like such symmetries."

  Witch Circe skilled at spinning spells and threads alike, at weaving charms and cloths:  Who am I to spoil an easy hexameter?"  

She recalls a song she has heard of her meeting with Odysseus:  "I was not surprised by the portrait of myself:  the proud witch undone before the hero's sword, kneeling and begging for mercy.  Humbling women seems to be a chief pastime of poets.  As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep."

Later, in a conversation with Penelope, Penelope tells Circe:  "I am from Sparta.  We know about old soldiers there.  The trembling hands, the startling from sleep.  The man who spills his wine every time the trumpets blow."  I like that passage because I never thought of the Greek warriors suffering from PTSD, but of course they did.  
Madeline Miller's Circe is one of my favorite retellings of ancient myths.  I love the way different authors interpret the stories: telling the tales from one POV or another, adhering  to the original or expanding and enhancing incidents, and sometimes, changing outcomes entirely.

There are also some other wonderful retellings available:  The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood and Weight by Jeanette Winterson are also great examples of modern mythic retellings; these are much shorter, condensed, but powerful.    Antigo Nick is a campy, amusing modern translation of Antigone by Anne Carson.

Do you have a favorite myth or modern retelling?

Read in April.  Blog post scheduled for June 26.

NetGalley/Little, Brown

Historical Fiction/Myth.  July 10, 2018.  Print length:  400 pages.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Salt Lane by William Shaw

Last year I read Shaw's The Bird Watcher and enjoyed it for several reasons:  the bleak Dungeness setting on the Kent coast, the distinctive characters, the depth of plot.  Salt Lane is also set in Dungeness and DS Alexandra Cupidi continues her struggles to balance work and home life.

Alex isn't an immediately likable character, but she takes the lead role in this latest book, and she grows on you.  Often tactless, she says what she think often without considering the way her words could be received.  She's headstrong and her impulsive nature can make situations more difficult...and dangerous.

An excellent crime novel that tackles some of the current problems that society faces and blends characterization and atmosphere in a first-rate plot.  Two separate cases evolve and intertwine creating a suspenseful and thought-provoking whodunnit...and why.

Alex's partnership with Constable Jill Ferriter is developing into an appealing alliance and her relationship with her mother and her daughter also holds more possibilites.  

Whenever a second novel in a series appears, I wonder if it will hold up to the first--in this case, it does more than that.  Salt Lane gives promise to more stimulating additions to the series.

 NetGalley/Mulholland Books

Crime/Detective Fiction.  June 26, 2018.  Print length:  464 pages.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Scandal Above Stairs by Jennifer Ashley

Wendy introduced me to this series a while back, and I read and enjoyed Death Below Stairs.  When NetGalley offered Scandal Above Stairs, I wanted to find out what Kat Holloway and Daniel and all of the characters introduced in the first book had been up to!  

I suppose both books can be classified as Victorian cozy mysteries.  The characters are an interesting mixture of above and below stairs, although the main character Kat Holloway is definitely below stairs as she is the cook in a prominent household.  

Daniel...well, Daniel McAdam is a bit of a mystery.  We know he comes from a rough background, but he has the ability to transform himself and be accepted in almost any role, from handyman to gentleman.

I liked that Cynthia and Mr. Thanos (above stairs) get to play a role in solving the mystery in this one and wouldn't mind these two graduating into even larger roles.

Tess is a new addition, and her character also shows promise of evolving.  

When I read Death Below Stairs, I didn't initially realize that Jennifer Ashley and Ashley Gardner were the same person.  I've read and enjoyed Ashley Gardner's Captain Lacy series set in Regency London.  Both historical mystery series develop interesting characters, are well-researched, and are entertaining.  :)

Read in May; blog review scheduled for June 20.

NetGalley/Berkley Publ.

Historical Mystery.  July 3, 2018.  Print length:  320 pages.  

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Providence by Caroline Kepnes

As I read the first few chapters of Caroline Kepnes' Providence, I was delighted and expected to love the book.  But...that didn't happen.

There was an abrupt turning point, and the novel took an unexpected turn that didn't work well for me.

from the description:  Growing up as best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe are the only ones who truly understand each other, though they can never find the words to tell one another the depth of their feelings. When Jon is finally ready to confess his feelings, he's suddenly kidnapped by his substitute teacher who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity.

Including an H.P. Lovecraft element sounded interesting; however, the way the story proceeded was much less interesting than the initial chapters.  I didn't find it suspenseful, and I plowed through most of it.  

Lovecraft was a strange man, but I've never been particularly interested in reading his work.  I have been interested in the way his pulp fiction influenced other writers, though, which is why I wanted to read Providence.   The love of all things Lovecraftian was one of the weirdest parts of the book--the "love" of all the people who attended the annual Necronomicon festival in Providence and pseudo-philosophical stuff was bizarre.  

There was so much potential, and yet the book wandered around, repeating itself, and never truly examining the most interesting parts about Blair and his experiments.  It will please some people (reviews on NetGalley cover the spectrum), but Providence left me dissatisfied.

NetGalley/Random House

genre?  June 19, 2018.  Print length:  359 pages.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Ghost Gifts by Laura Spinella and Some Links

Lately, I've been in the mood for ghost stories and decided to try Ghost Gifts by Laura Spinella which was free on Kindle Unlimited.  

Ghost Gifts was an interesting blend of mystery, ghostly visits, and romance.  Aubrey has inherited a psychic gift and "sees dead people."   Sometimes her gift gives a sense of closure to the ghosts make contact.  But sometimes the connections are dangerous, and Aubrey makes every effort to control her contacts. 

In the present, Aubrey is managing quite well with her job at a local paper dealing with real estate, keeping her unusual talent a secret.   

Then her boss assigns her to work on the shocking discovery of a skeleton found sealed in a wall.  Way out of her usual purview.  Unable to get out of the assignment, Aubrey is partnered with the difficult investigative reporter Levi St. John.    

Aubrey is no shrinking violet;  she has worked hard for a normal life and has attempted to avoid unwanted ghostly contacts, but she has no problem speaking her mind.  Both reporters resist the partnership, but eventually, they work together, and Aubrey's gift turns out to be crucial to solving the murder.

Interesting characters, a well-plotted mystery, subtle clues that entwine characters and events past and present into a complex whole.

Kindle Unlimited.

Mystery/Supernatural.  2016.  Print length:  386 pages.   

I often collect links of interesting articles, then forget about them.  Here are a few that I found on an unfinished draft:  

For readers who enjoy the supernatural, this article on ley lines.

I've been following Steve McCurry's photographic blog for years.  The photos are from every part of the world and cover most human activities along with quotes.  The title is this entry is "To Light a Fire" -- with photographs of readers from Afghanistan to Yugoslavia.  I love his blog.

Wage inequality: A study of more than 2m books has revealed that titles by female authors are on average sold at just over half the price of those written by men. (Source)  The article goes on to say the study was a result of VIDa counts that foun a "skew towards reviews of books by male authors, written by maler reviewers."

Read a Book--it could save your sanity.  From a study by  The Journal of the American Medical Association: "researchers discovered that readers’ risk [of dementia] was significantly lower than non-readers."  YAY!

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

What My Sister Knew, The Ghost of Marlow House, and True Fiction

Twins--their similarities, their difference, their relationships--consistently provide fodder for novels.  When you are a singleton, twins are a genuine curiosity, and novelists make the most of our inquisitive nature.  What My Sister Knew by Nina Laurin examines the strained relationship between a pair of fraternal twins.  

The dynamic between good-looking, smart, and dominant Eli and his less attractive and bullied sister Addie is cause for unease even during their childhood.  

When Eli, at thirteen, is convicted of a terrible crime, Addie's life does not immediately improve.  Years after the tragedy, however, Addie finally seems set for a better life.  She's in a good relationship and has overcome many personal demons.

Then Eli turns up again, and Addie's world begins disintegrating.  What does his sister know?

Read in May.  Review scheduled for June 5.

NetGalley/Grand Central Publishing

Suspense.  June 19, 2018.  Print length:  384 pages.  

The Ghost of Marlow House  is a fun cozy paranormal mystery.  Danielle inherits an old mansion that she hopes to turn into a B&B.  But in addition to the house and furnishings, she quickly realizes that she has also inherited a ghost who doesn't realize he's dead.  

Light and entertaining, The Ghost of Marlow House reminds me a bit of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.   Danielle needs the ghost to move on in order for her B&B plan to work. Eventually she manages to convince Walt Marlow that he is, indeed, dead.  Walt, however, is not ready to leave his home and enter the afterlife and persuades Danielle to investigate his death.

This is the first in a long series and reads as such in several ways, but I found it an entertaining counterbalance to some of the darker mysteries I read.  

Free on Kindle.

Paranormal Mystery.  2016.  Print length:  256 pages.

True Fiction is another book that lands on the light side of the scale.

From the blurb:  When a passenger jet crashes onto the beaches of Waikiki, bestselling thriller writer Ian Ludlow knows the horrific tragedy wasn't an accident.

Years before, the CIA enlisted Ian to dream up terrorism scenarios to prepare the government for nightmares they couldn't imagine. Now one of those schemes has come true, and Ian is the only person alive who knows how it was done...and who is behind the plot. That makes him too dangerous to live.

Comical and yet...I've often wondered, as I'm sure some of you have, if some fictional scenarios have not actually been translated to real life.  The idea that the CIA or terrorists  have taken ideas from fiction doesn't sound that far-fetched to me.  Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.

True Fiction offers adventure, suspense, and comedy as Ian Ludlow, nerdy author, must think like his fictional protagonist if he wants to survive.  

Kindle Unlimited

Suspense/Humor.  April 1, 2018.  Print length:  248 pages.

JUST for Fun

We are all influenced by book covers, but take a look at some of the pulp covers of classic literature!  (source: Literary Hub)

Friday, June 01, 2018

Jar of Hearts and The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder

Jar of Hearts is a compelling tale of bad decisions.  When she was sixteen, Georgina (Geo) Shaw falls in love with Calvin James, an older man at twenty-one.  Angela Wong, Geo's best friend, disappears without a trace.  Kaiser Brody, the third in the group of best friends, later becomes a detective determined to catch a serial killer.

from the description:   This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who's been searching for the truth all these years.

Jar of Hearts is an edgy, suspenseful tale that has some grim elements.   While wanting to sympathize with Geo, it is sometimes difficult to do.  Geo is, however, brutally honest with herself.  While she keeps some things secret, she accepts and admits her role in Angela's death.  

The book follows Geo in the past and in the present, and the  events on the night in question are revealed a little at a time.  In the present, a new nightmare is about to begin.

The conclusion bothered me a bit and seemed a bit rushed, but this is an intense book that 
will keep you turning the pages, getting involved with the characters and their situations, and puzzling through your own opinions.

Read in April; blog review scheduled for May 29.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Suspense/Crime.  June 12, 2018.  Print length:  320 pages.

The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder features thirteen-year-old Jasper Wishart who is autistic, suffers from prosopagnosia (face blindess), and is a synesthete.   His autism and face blindness (he can't recognize faces and must depend on voices and clothing to identify even his own father) are definite drawbacks, but Jasper thinks of his synesthesia as a wonderful gift.  

Sounds are colors, and Jasper delights in the myriad colors of voices, music, even memories--his mother is cobalt blue.

What I liked:  Jasper.  It is difficult to truly imagine some of his autistic and facial blindness difficulties.  Although his conditions are natural for Jasper, they seem remarkably frightening for the reader.  Imagine only being able to recognize your father and distinguish him from others by the sound of his voice (and for Jasper, the color of his father's voice--a muddy brown) and his clothing.  All of the normal relationships in life would be so slippery!  

I enjoyed Jasper's curious approach to life and his charming character, but Harris also managed to make me imagine the frustrations of living with a bright child with so many complications.  Jasper's father does the best he can for his child, but he is also a single parent who must dress the same way each day to help his son recognize him.

Bee Larkham, the beautiful and unconventional new neighbor, captures the imagination of the entire neighborhood, but not always in a positive way.  She provides the impetus for some unpleasant situations.

Not so much:  The overuse of the color trope can get a little irritating.  There are also places where things drag; the story might be better served if it was a little shorter and tighter.

Reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon in the use of an autistic main character.  Sarah Harris has written a book that makes you curious about autism and synesthesia, but you still wonder about how the accuracy/realism of some of the details.

I enjoyed The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder and look forward to what Harris does next book.

Read in March; blog review scheduled for May 29.


Mystery/Coming of Age.  June 12, 2018.  Print length:  368 pages.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Woman in the Woods by John Connolly

The Woman in the Woods is the latest Charlie Parker novel.  Although I am not generally a fan of horror, the Charlie Parker novels combine excellent writing, compelling characters, suspenseful mystery, and the supernatural in an unusual amalgamation that makes me hold my breath each time.

Always: a battle of good vs evil with collateral damage on both sides, the loss of good people, characters that you come to love despite their decidedly criminal backgrounds, a creep factor that chills down to the bone, and usually some unexpected, but much appreciated humor.

Deep in the Maine woods, the body of a young woman who had recently given birth is discovered.  She has been buried for several years, but no infant body is found.  A star of David carved into a tree grabs the attention of lawyer Moxie Castin, who then convinces Charlie Parker to follow the investigation, and if the baby survived, to find it.  

The police are investigating, trying to identify the young woman, Charlie Parker is also searching, but there is someone else also looking for the young woman.  Someone not simply bad, but repellently evil.

Short chapters move back and forth between characters, the main plot, and secondary plots.  The roles of Louis and Angel are more limited in this one, but Louis is responsible for an inciting incident that plays into the larger plot later.  

"And in a house by the woods, a toy telephone begins to ring and a young boy is about to receive a call from a dead woman."  --from book description

Read in March.  Review scheduled for May 29

NetGalley/Atria Books

Crime/Mystery/Supernatural.  June 12, 2018.  Print length:  496 pages.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Mystery, History, Suspense

For Richer, For Poorer by Kerry Wilkinson is the latest in the series featuring DI Jessica Daniel. The current bothersome case involves home invasions and robberies of cash and jewelry involving unusual prior knowledge of the homes and their security systems.  The new DCI is frustrated and wants the robberies solved posthaste.  

If that were not bad enough, the day following each robbery, the police begin getting calls from various charities saying someone made huge anonymous donations in cash.  Are the thieves taking a page from the Robin Hood tales?

In another tangle, Bex asks Jessica to see if she can help a friend whose neighbor's activities are disturbing her...which leads to a revelation involving sex trafficking.  

Jessica is still dealing with the aftermath of events in the last book and a new DCI who doesn't appear to have much confidence in Jess or her abilities.

NetGalley/Book Outure

Crime/Detective Fiction.  May 15, 2018.  Print length:  354 pages.  

The Shadow Killer is set in Iceland in 1941 during the change over from the British to U.S. troops.  Tiny Iceland, which had been largely isolated, was first invaded by about 25,000 British troops.  When the novel begins, the British are about to depart and the Yanks are taking over in even larger numbers.

A time of great upheaval--the war, the Allied troops, the cultural and social confrontations.  A young man is found murdered with a bloody swastika on his forehead.  The weapon, a Colt 45, is associated with the American forces.

Flovent, an Icelandic policeman, and Thorson, a Canadian seconded to the American Military Police are united again in the investigation.  (I have not read The Shadow District, the first book in this series).  Both Flovent and Thorson are likable characters who lack the super-crime-solving abilities of many detectives.  They do the best they can in a difficult situation fraught with all kinds of social and political ramifications from both Icelandic and military interference.  

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Mystery/WWII.  May 29, 2018.  Print length:  368 pages.  

Never Alone is one of those tricksy novels meant to keep you uncertain.  One of those methods (I won't mention the technique) began to bother me early.  Something wasn't meshing, and I wondered why.  It wasn't long before the suspicion was...not exactly verified, but I began to realize that one of the blurbs I'd read had deliberately set up the wrong perspective.  

So.  A widow, Sara, struggling financially on an isolated Yorkshire farm.  An old flame, Aiden, returns to the area, but is intent on keeping his private life off-bounds.  Sara's daughter Kitty, who visits during university breaks.  Sara's son, Louis, who became alienated from Sara after his father's death.  Sophie, Sara's friend and confidante.  Will, a friend of Sara's son Louis, who arrives in the area after a long absence.

The bleak Yorkshire winter setting lends itself to suspense, but the story dawdled along for quite some time.  The bad guy isn't too difficult to detect, and once you do, you wonder why Sara is so slow to wise-up.  I also found an element of the story just--weird and uncomfortable.    

Myriad Editions ARC in the mail.

Suspense.  2016.  354 pages.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

A Sharp Solitude by Christine Carbo

I've been reading Christine Carbo's suspenseful novels set in Glacier National Park since NetGalley offered the first one (The Wild Inside) in 2015.  The natural beauty of the park and the often terrifying threats of the wilderness are always crucial elements in the novels.  The park itself is more than setting; it is character as well.

Carbo's tendency to take a minor character from one novel and give him or her a lead in the next novel is much the same as in Tana French's novels.  This penchant of developing secondary characters contributes a freshness and energy to each succeeding plot.  

A Sharp Solitude features FBI investigator Ali Paige and Reeve Landon.  Landon is Ali's former boyfriend and the father of her daughter.  When Anne Marie Johnson (a journalist who was last seen accompanying Reeve Landon  and his service dog for an article she was writing) is murdered, Landon becomes the chief suspect.  Intensely private and with a secret past he is desperate to keep hidden,  Landon is arrested after not admitting that Anne Marie visited his cabin.

Ali Paige refuses to believe Landon is guilty and gets involved in the investigation using her FBI position to get information.  But Ali is not authorized to do so and is jeopardizing her own career.  She is also afraid she may discover something she doesn't want to know.

I thought I knew where the novel was going because issues concerning gun control appear early, but while that is an interesting aspect, the truth is something different.

Shifting between Reeve Landon and Ali's perspectives, the reader learns of the events in their pasts that contribute to the situation in which they find themselves.

Monte Harris and Gretchen Larsen have only cameo appearances.  

A fine addition to this series, but I wonder who will take the lead in the next installment.

Read in March; blog review scheduled for May 17.

NetGalley/Attria Books

Suspense.  May 29, 2018.  Print length:  368 pages

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Winter Song by Susan C. Muller and Some Mail Art

Winter Song introduces Houston Detective Noah Daughtery and his partner Connor Crawford.  Noah is still grieving over the loss of his wife and trying his best to get along with Sweet Pea, the dog who loved and misses her.  Sweet Pea's grief targets Noah, and Sweet Pea punishes him in the way only dogs can.

When a woman is killed on the way home from a yoga class, the wealthy husband is a suspect, but since he didn't commit the crime himself, Noah and Connor look for a third party.

When they get too close, the killer targets Noah.  And Sweet Pea.  

I enjoyed this first book in a new-to-me series and look forward to more.

Kindle Unlimited/Stanford Publishing

Detective Fiction/Crime.  2016.  Print length:  332 pages.  

 I had fun with National Letter Writing Month and National Poetry Month in April.