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Friday, December 01, 2017

Crime and Science Fiction

Thieves on the Fens by Joy Ellis.

Someone is targeting thieves and calling DI Nikki Galena giving details that might help her prevent a murder.  Not that Mad Tom always plays the rules; he certainly cheats on the first play in his game.  Nikki and her team scramble to interpret the messages and protect the intended victims.

In the meantime, a dear friend of Nikki's mother Eve dies of a sudden heart attack.  Eve, who has a background with the RAF and the MOD is devastated, but also uneasy.  This is the second death among a circle of close friends, and Eve fears an unseen and powerful hand at work.  

If Eve is right, both she and her remaining friends are in danger.  And Eve is right--but the reason the women have been targeted is the question.  What did Ann and Jenny know that led to their deaths?  

Joy Ellis' Nikki Galena/Joseph Easter books are always a pleasure, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of genuinely knowing the characters she has created.  The Lincolnshire Fens add a sense of remoteness to many of the locations and frequently add to the suspense.

 Joy Ellis is one of my favorite authors of crime/detective fiction, and I highly recommend the series--but start at the beginning and enjoy the way the characters develop.

(Her DI Jackman/DS Evans series is equally good.)

NetGalley/Joffe Books

Detective/Crime.  Nov. 28, 2017.  Print length:  309 pages.

The Silent Children by Carol Wyer is the fourth in a series featuring DI Robyn Carter.  I haven't read any of the previous books in the series, but The Silent Children functions perfectly well as a stand-alone, even though there is an arc carried over from previous books.

Another book interspersed with sections on a back story, The Silent Children keeps the narrative bouncing between past and present.  

Overall, I wasn't that impressed with this one, but Wyer has a number of fans who really loved the book.  I never wanted to abandon it, but when I finished, the only character who truly engaged me was Robyn's cousin Ross, and he had a minimal role.


Mystery/Crime.  Dec. 7, 2017.  Print length: 426 pages.

Evan Currie's Odysseus Awakening is the latest installment of this series featuring Confederation captain Eric Weston and the crew of the starship Odysseus.

I like science fiction and space operas and have enjoyed all the books in this series.  Lots of action and suspense, but since some of the intelligence concerning the starships falls into enemy hands, another book will have to detail just how much information the enemy gained.  Does it include the location of earth?

This is not my favorite in the series, but things in the Black are not over yet, and I'm eager to know what happens next.

This isn't a series that works well without having started with the first book, Odyssey One:  Into the Black.

My reviews of the earlier books in the series are here.

NetGalley/47 North

Science Fiction/Space Opera.  Dec. 12, 2017.  Print length:  318 pages.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dick Cole's War by Dennis R. Okerstrom

Dick Cole's War by Dennis R. Okerstrom was a gift from my son-in-law and personally inscribed by Dick Cole, the last of the famous Doolittle Raiders, who was at Barksdale Air Force Base recently.  Even at 102, Cole was signing copies of Okerstrom's book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and learned a great deal, not only about the famous Tokyo Raid with pilot Jimmy Doolittle and co-pilot Dick Cole, but about Hump Pilots, the CBI (China, Burma, India theater), the Air Commandos--and much more.

One poignant moment occurs when on Dec. 7, Cole writes his mother to say that he won't be home for Christmas after all.   No need to say why leave has been canceled.
The problem with letters was a consistent one throughout the war.  Longed for and appreciated and re-read, but not timely.  Even today, it takes about 3 weeks for my letters to Melody to arrive in Singapore.  As much as servicemen longed for word from home, letters took a long time and sometimes arrived out of order.  Nevertheless, the letters to and from home are an important documentation of the war.

As we often note when reading history, authors can take a fascinating event or period and suck the life out of it, or as Okerstrom does, pull you in and make you feel a part of the historical drama.  

You can't see all of the pages I marked, but you can probably tell that I'd have trouble trying to include all of the information that gripped my interest in the pic I took of my copy--before I quit even trying to flag all the parts that intrigued me.  

Following Dick Cole is an ideal way to look at the war in the Pacific and Asia because he was involved in so many important missions during the war--his first was the Doolittle Raid over Tokyo, but his time as a hump pilot and as an air commando part of Project 9 were also critically important roles.  The information about the gliders was just one amazing element.

I knew very little about this portion of WWII, and so I would frequently be stunned at the difficulties and complications involved.  

My admiration for the men involved and for Dennis R. Okerstrom for making the book such an informative and engrossing read is immense.

Dick Cole's War should be on the list for anyone interested in WWII and the Pacific arena.  

Nonfiction.  2015.  336 pages.

Below is the front of the postcard I made for Chris as a thank you note--the message and correct postage are on the other side.  I was pleased to have a few stamps that featured planes even if they were only for air mail.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Crossing the Line by Kerry Wilkinson

NetGalley has offered two of Kerry Wilkinson's stand-alone psychological suspense novels that I read and enjoyed.  I didn't review Two Sisters here, but I did review The Girl Who Came Back. When I realized that Wilkinson's police procedurals featuring DS Jessica Daniel were available through Kindle Unlimited, I went through them like candy.

There are ten books in this UK series, and Crossing the Line, is the eighth installment here in the U.S.  

I like the complex characters who become more fully developed and interesting with each new book and the skillful and well-thought out plots that are fresh and original.  Oh, and I should not fail to mention the dialog that feels natural and is often cleverly amusing. 

Although the books can be read as stand-alones, this is a series that benefits from seeing how the dynamic of each plot influences and alters the characters.  The series gains strength as Jessica evolves and adapts to each experience.  The changes in the secondary characters are less profound, but they, too, feel rounded and genuine.

Twenty-five ago, the Stretford Slasher was convicted.  When he dies in prison, the media note the occasion, but then several apparently random acts of violence occur in broad daylight that evoke some of the fear experienced twenty-five years earlier.  The attacks are violent, but not deadly, and the police have difficulty making any connections between the targets--except for the fact that they are all disagreeable bullies.  There are a couple of other secondary story lines as well that keep the pace moving.

While the book can function in isolation, it is the way the books build, one on another, that makes this series so interesting.  I can't wait for the next one.  

Read in Oct.; blog review scheduled for November 27.


Crime/Police Procedural.  Dec. 12, 2017.  Print length:  300 pages.

Monday, November 20, 2017

First Bookplate and a Few Recent Reads

The first known printed bookplate and other examples of early proof of ownership.

It isn't that I haven't been reading, but most of my books are from NetGalley and won't be published until 2018, so I hold reviews.

Look for Me by Lisa Gardner   (I like the D.D. Warren books that I've read and was pleased that Flora Dane was back in this one!)

The Undertaker's Daughter by Sara Blaedel  (I've only read one of Blaedel's Louise Rick series, and I enjoyed it.  But this is a stand-alone and this one takes place in the states, and I liked it even better.)

City of Endless Night by Preston & Child.  (You know--Special Agent Pendergast and all kinds of weirdness.  I may be getting a little tired of this series, but can never resist seeing what is happening to these characters--the ones who survive, that is.)

SINthetic by  J.T. Nichols.  (Synths were created to perform all the jobs humans despise; they have no rights; they are disposable.  This one is pretty dark, but makes you think.)

I saw this quote recently and it certainly struck a chord with me:

Warning-- Dates on calendar are closer than they appear.

Ready for Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The Whispering Room by Dean Koontz

I haven't read a Dean Koontz novel in years, but the blurb for The Whispering Room (Jane Hawk #2) caught my attention.  Although I have not read The Silent Corner, which precedes TWR, Koontz includes enough background to make this an easy read.

TWR is a fast-paced, action-driven novel about conspiracies,
hi-jacked science, nanotechnology, and the lack of privacy that is now an ever-present part of the human condition.

Jane Hawk is a rogue FBI agent on the run, pursued by the very agencies people believe can keep them safe.  The conspiracy involves the mega-wealthy and has devotees in many branches of government.  Jane finds it difficult to find trustworthy allies; she has a few who are willing to protect her son and provide aide, but she needs someone who can expose the conspiracy.  

Jane finds an unexpected ally in Luther Tillman, sheriff of a small town that has just experienced a deadly suicide attack.  Luther can't understand why 40-year-old Cora suddenly becomes... not only willing to commit suicide, but willing to take dozens of innocents with her.  After a government agent shuts down the investigation and Cora's house is burned down, Luther begins reading Cora's journals. Cora's repeated phrases about a spider in her brain and the phrase "Play Manchurian with me" set Luther on his own investigation.

Suicides, nanotechnology, and mind-control?

Is it scary?  Yes.  Believable?  I'm not sure, but science can always be abused, and there are always people who think they know what is best for others.  In a world where technology reveals everything about an individual's personal and financial life and there is no way to go completely off-grid because one way or another technology will find you, what if the next step is nanotechnology implanted in your brain? 

Not a book of any depth, no fully developed characters, plenty of violence--The Whispering Room is guaranteed to make readers uneasy.  TWR must be read for what it is--action and suspense, combined with paranoia-inducing fears about the future.

Koontz' clever use of The Manchurian Candidate was my favorite part of the novel.  

Read in Sept.  Blog review scheduled for Nov. 8
P.S.  I came back to this scheduled review after reading an interview with Franklin Foer about his new book World Without Mind.  Here is an excerpt from the interview:

Franklin Foer: Let’s get apocalyptic. I worry that we’re headed to a world of total surveillance—and that the presence of watchful eyes will inhibit us from thinking original, subversive thoughts. I worry that we’re outsourcing too many of our mental activities to machines—and these machines are run by a small handful of monopolistic corporations. I worry that we’re creating an economy that squeezes producers of knowledge—the journalists, the novelists, the essayists, who produce the words that help us make sense of the world. I worry that the big technology companies use their surveillance of us to create a portrait of our mind, and that they exploit their intimate knowledge of us to keep us clicking and watching. In short, I worry that we’re headed to a world without contemplation, a world lacking in originality and depth.

Check here for another interview with Mr. Foer.  

 While Mr. Foer's argument is not quite the same as the novel's premise, it is interesting.  Some of Foer's concerns have bothered us me for some time, but we I have become pretty cocooned by Amazon, FB, and Google, relying on Google daily.  It is difficult to let go of the conveniences provided...right?  

Read in Sept.  Blog review scheduled for Nov. 8.

NetGalley/Random House

Techno-thriller.  Nov. 21, 2017.  Print length:  528 pages.  

Monday, November 06, 2017

The Perfect Victim by Corrie Jackson

Sophie Kent is a journalist whose friend and colleague Charlie Swift is a murder suspect.  Charlie and his wife Emily appear to be a loving couple, and Emily, whose blog and instagram sites have a huge following, wants their marriage to be as perfect-picture as her fantasy.  

Sophie desperately wants Charlie to be innocent, but as he fails to come forward and details accumulate, both Sophie, friend and confidante, and Emily, the steadfast wife, begin to see fault-lines opening everywhere.

Intense and suspenseful, I didn't see where this one was going and had a number of surprises along the way.  Corrie Jackson deftly moves back and forth from the present, to the weeks before the murder, and to Charlie's childhood.  This could have been complicated and confusing, but somehow worked.  

The Perfect Victim keeps you wondering exactly who the perfect victim is.   I changed my mind more than once.  Jackson's twists and turns kept me enthralled.

NetGalley/Bonnier Zaffre

Crime/Psychological Suspense.  Nov. 16, 2017.  Print length:  448 pages.

Sunday, November 05, 2017


Sometimes serendipity is a quiet coincidence, followed by another coincidence.  Sometimes it snowballs.

I recently read I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke in which four-year-old Max wears Gruffalo pajamas and insists that his father read him The Gruffalo each night.  (I Know My Name is a psychological mystery, not a children's book.)  

I am always intrigued with the titles and illustrations of children's books that I see on various blogs and on book review sites.  Gruffalo sounded familiar, but I had no picture of a Gruffalo in mind, I just liked the kid in his favorite pajamas who loved the book.  So I looked up The Gruffalo, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

A day or so later, I was looking at postage stamps that intrigued me (I love mail art and whimsical stamps).  I saw the following bird stamp on Pinterest, which led me to this article.    Axel Scheffler had created the delightful images for The Royal Mail's 2012 Christmas Stamps!

Huh?  Axek Scheffler illustrated Julia Donaldson's The Gruffalo!  The stamps I'd found were serendipitously connected to a small detail in a recent novel.  

Then a couple of days later, I was looking at the article again and checked Axel Scheffler's website and discovered he had illustrated a cover for T.S. Eliot's Ole Possum's Book of Practical Cats, one of my favorite books of all time.

My copy is the one illustrated by Edward Gorey, but I love Scheffler's version as well.  So...I looked at other Scheffler books and found that I had a copy of Room on the Broom, also written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Scheffler.  I bought a copy of Room on the Broom for Bryce Eleanor about five or six years ago.  I had it out for Halloween as inspiration for October mail art, but didn't use it.  Maybe I will next year, after finding all these serendipitous connections.

And since I love letters, postage stamps, and mail art, I think I want to read about Postman Bear, too!   

Without ever paying attention to the name of the illustrator, 
I have consistently been attracted to Alex Scheffler's art.  

Saturday, November 04, 2017

The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross by Lisa Tuttle

The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross is the second in the Jesperson & Lane series.  The first in the series (The Curious Case of the Somnambulist & the Psychic Thief reviewed here) had a great set-up, and I remember being pleased and expectant as I read the first few pages, but I ended up being disappointed.  "Maybe," I thought, "the next one will be better.  The author will have a sense of direction and the characters will emerge as more than pawns."

Alas, not so.  Once again, an interesting beginning full of all  kinds of possibilities and intriguing characters.  Once again, a failure to take advantage of what worked and instead taking a ridiculous direction that seemed almost a spur-of-the-moment inclusion.

Jesperson is controlling, holding back information and failing to keep Lane fully apprised of his theories or knowledge.  Lane is ostensibly a partner in this psychic detective agency, but her purpose is largely to give a first person account of the cases they encounter.  Rather than a partner as indicated on the calling card--Lane is a sort of attendant, even though her role in events is more detailed.

The best characters in the book, the ones with such potential, are the three sisters at Wayside Cross.

Read in August; blog review scheduled for Nov. 4.

NetGalley/Random House

Mystery/Supernatural.  Nov. 28, 2017.  

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

The Forsaken Throne by Jeff Wheeler

The Forsaken Throne is book 6 in the Kingfountain series by Jeff Wheeler.   The books all combine magic and adventure, complex characters, and re-imaginings  of British history and myth.

I've enjoyed each and every book in the series and was especially happy in this concluding installment to find one of the issues that bothered me at the end of the previous book has been resolved to my satisfaction.

The Forsaken Throne also makes connections to the Muirwood and Mirrowen series that prove interesting.  I read and enjoyed the first two books in the Mirrowen series several years ago.

Jeff Wheeler's world-building and character development in this series had me devouring each new entry like Halloween candy.

Read in September; blog review scheduled for Nov. 1


Fantasy.  Nov. 14, 2017.  Print length:  332 pages.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Jubilee Problem and Sitting Murder

The Jubilee Problem has Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and Lucy James working together to prevent any disruption of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebration in 1897.  Who might want to cause death and destruction on the occasion? 
 The "threat of terrorism was very real and police chiefs, who had received a tip-off about ‘an anarchist outrage’, brought hundreds of retired officers back into service to keep the public safe." (source)
In the novel, Holmes and crew  include the Fenian Brotherhood and Kaiser Wilhelm's agents as major suspects who might threaten the celebration.  

So...who is Lucy James?  Ahem, she is the daughter of Sherlock Holmes, given up for adoption by her mother.  In an earlier book in the series, it seems the young Lucy came to Holmes asking for his help in seeking information about her parents.  Evidently, they were both surprised.

A light read that felt a bit like a YA novel.

NetGalley/Wilton Press

Historical Mystery/YA?  Nov. 1.  Print length:  352 pages.

Sitting Murder by A. J. Wright is the fourth book in the Lancashire Detective series.  I have not read any of the previous books, but this one works perfectly as a stand-alone.  

Sitting Murder is set during the late Victorian period in Wigan, a town known for its cotton mills and coal mines.  When a mine accident takes the life of Alice Goodway's husband Jack, Alice's grief and sense of abandonment is intense.  

But then it seems that Jack is able to communicate with Alice from beyond the grave, acting as a spirit guide.   Word spreads and a number of people want Alice to contact their loved ones. Jack's abrasive aunt, moves in with Alice and persuades her to do a limited number of "sittings."

Alice views these sittings as a way to comfort those who are grieving, and along with the pat phrases offered by most purported mediums, Alice reveals information she should have no way of knowing.

Although the thoroughly detestable aunt makes sure the privilege is paid for, Alice only responds to a few of the people who are eager to commune with the dead, and most of these petitioners are comforted to feel that their loved ones are content.

Then the first threatening letter arrives, and DS Michael Brennan and Constable Jaggery are consulted.  Brennan, while seriously skeptical of  the whole mediumship-and-communication-with-the-dead scenario, is definitely concerned about the implied threat and tone of the letter.  

Before Brennan and Jaggery can prove who wrote the letter, Alice's aunt is murdered, and  Brennan suspects that the real target was Alice.  As the investigation delves into the secrets of most of the those who requested sittings, Brennan and Jaggery try to keep Alice safe while narrowing down the list of suspects.

Sitting Murder was a fun historical mystery with complications that kept me guessing--and that is precisely what I want from this genre.  It fit the mood of the season with the psychic/medium element, provided a solid mystery in a favorite time period, and introduced two likable characters in DS Brennan and Constable Jaggery.  

NetGalley/Endeavor Ink

Historical Mystery.  Oct. 12, 2017.  Print length: 282 pages.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Tonight You're Dead by Viveca Sten

I eagerly await each new translation of  Viveca Sten's Sandhamn Murders series and was gratified to find the latest translation (Tonight You're Dead) on NetGalley.  

Marcus Nielsen, a university student, is initially suspected of suicide; Thomas Andreasson, however, can't exactly understand what bothers him about the scene.  After finding out what Marcus has been researching, Thomas visits one of the men Marcus interviewed.  

The man, a former member of the Coastal Rangers, is found dead shortly after Thomas' visit.  The investigation leads to the island of Korso, where the training for the elite Coastal Rangers took place in 1977.  

Part of the narrative is in the present and part is in the form of diary entries made by one of the trainees --a record of the treatment of the young men by a sadistic sergeant.  

Although Nora Linde features less in the mystery portion of the novel, we are updated on her life as she attempts to adjust to the process of her divorce.  There are changes in Thomas' personal life as well as he and Pernilla seek to re-establish their relationship, but the thrust of the narrative deals with the consequences of what occurred on Korso thirty years ago.  The past has a way of lying quietly for years before the repercussions materialize, and Marcus Nielsen's research precipitated events he could not have imagined.

I've enjoyed each of the novels in this series, and now must wait for the next translation.   If you are interested in this series, the English translations which have been published so far are available on Kindle Unlimited.  There is also a television series based on the novels.

Viveca Sten is a Swedish author of Scandinavian crime fiction novels. She writes the Sandhamn Murders series. Viveca is not only an author; she currently works as head jurist at the Swedish postal service. She earned her law degree from Stockholm University in addition to her MBA from the Stockholm School of Economics. Viveca lives outside of Stockholm, Sweden with her husband and three children. She has always spent her summers on Sandhamn, an island near Stockholm where her family has owned a house for multiple generations.
Prior to publishing her work in English, Viveca Sten had written three different non-fiction books and published six crime novels in Swedish. Her first novel to appear in English was Still Waters in 2015.  (source)

NetGalley/Amazon Crossing

Crime/Police Procedural.  November 14, 2017.  Print length:  416 pages.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James

After reading Simone St. James' The Broken Girls, I decided to try another of St. James' paranormal mysteries. In the aftermath of WWI, many in a nation grieving the loss of a generation of men and boys turned to seances, psychics, and mediums who promised communication with the dead.

The Other Side of Midnight, set in 1925 London during this resurgence of spiritualism, involves psychics and a handsome debunker of psychics in a paranormal mystery/romance.

When Ellie Winter's former friend and rival Gloria is murdered,  Gloria's brother engages Ellie to find out who killed her and why.  Ellie teams up with James Hawley, war veteran and debunker, and the two begin investigating--discovering secrets and courting danger along the way.

The Other Side of Midnight is a pretty light read.  There were elements I liked well enough, but I wasn't bowled over by any means.  I do like that St. James wants to write books like the ones she enjoyed by Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart:

"It wasn’t until my mid-20s that I discovered the old Gothics that were popular from the 1950s to about the 1970s – those musty old books you can find by the dozens, each one featuring a variation on the cover of the girl with flowing hair and nightgown fleeing a dark, foreboding house. These books are, shall we say, of varying quality (my personal favorite from my own shelf: “Lois Chalfont must choose between the devil and death!”) But several of the authors of old Gothics were truly talented, Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt being the top names of the genre.
I read – and still read – those books like crazy, and as I did I asked myself, “Why doesn’t anyone write these anymore?” So I write them, but I add my own sensibility to them. I make my heroines strong and independent. I set them in the 1920s. And I add ghosts."  (source)

The Other Side of Midnight was a bit of a disappointment after reading The Broken Girls, St. James' latest book.  (I wrote a little about The Broken Girls here when talking about books out next year.)  It was a modern ghost story with roots in the past that kept me enthralled and uneasy the entire time.  My full review is scheduled for Feb. 28, and the book will be published in March.  

So...while The Other Side of Midnight was not exactly what I was hoping for, I want to try Lost Among the Living, which returns to the post WWI setting.

And if you love a good ghost story, pre-order The Broken Girls!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Their Fatal Secrets by Janice Frost

Their Fatal Secrets by Janice Frost is the 4th in the DS Merry/DI Neal series.  I haven't read the previous books, but this one works fine as a stand-alone.  

From the blurb:  "Two students coming home from a drunken night out see something strange in the river. It is a young woman’s body.

Hours later, a second young woman’s body is discovered on another stretch of the same river."

DS Ava Merry and DI Jim Neal are assigned to both investigations. And they’re joined by a new detective, Tom Knight. 
There is an interesting premise in this novel involving the backstory behind the murders.  The villain (the standard woman-hating lover of violence for this kind of novel) is revealed almost immediately--and although a frightening character, he is both despicable and strangely uninteresting.  

The main characters are not especially developed, but since this is the third entry in the series, for regular readers this probably isn't necessary.  The connection between the women makes the plot interesting and persuaded me to finish it.  

NetGalley/Joffe Books

Crime/Police Procedural.  Oct. 21, 2017.  

Friday, October 20, 2017


Reading can be an escape from reality or a confrontation with a reality that sometimes we would like to avoid, but sometimes, a literal escape from our everyday life is in order.  We took a short trip into the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas in hopes of finding some of the gorgeous fall foliage that is missing here at home.

The dry weather that has plagued us in northeast Louisiana for the last couple of months has meant that fall color is scarce here, but we discovered that drought has been a problem  in northern Arkansas as well.  Climate change--whatcha gonna do?  

We didn't see much fall color--little of Shelley's "pale, and hectic red" was to be seen and not much gold, but we did have a fine escape from the flat plains for the Red River Valley.  We went from the flat farmland, through the rolling hills, and up into the Ouachita National Forest and mountains.  Climbing up the hairpin, serpentine roads, passing through tiny towns and abandoned communities, and finally, to Mount Magazine and the lodge where we stayed.

The weather was perfect.  Cold in the mornings and evenings and in the 60's and low 70's during the day.  The lodge afforded gorgeous views of sunrises and sunsets.

We walked and hiked and enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere, avoiding our phones, news, and social media.   Although I brought my Kindle, I didn't even read.

Mount Magazine State Park offered a tranquil escape in a beautiful setting where every effort is being made to preserve the plants and wildlife of the region.  The state park is known for its birding and for its diverse butterfly population.  Thankfully, we didn't see any black bears, but we did see some deer.

Now that we are home, I'm now in the midst of Kelley Armstrong's latest Casey Butler book, and the goings on in Rockton are, as usual, dramatic!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Hostage Heart by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

 A little romance, a little mystery.  The Hostage Heart by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles has little in common with her more accomplished historical novels like The Morland Dynasty or her excellent Bill Slider detective series, but it is an interesting look at the author's earlier efforts.

From the Author's Note that precedes the novel:

"This book is the work of a very young me; but it's the product of an energetic, enthusiastic and optimistic self in what seemed a simpler world, and I'm very pleased to see it back in print.  If you know my later books, I hope you will uncouple your expectations, and just enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it."

There is something touching about Harrod-Eagles' attachment to the works that helped shape her into the author she is today.  I loved the section of the Author's Note where she says that when she ran out of pony novels at the library, she had no choice but to write her own, and  "Between the ages of ten and eighteen I wrote nine pony novels."

Read in August; blog review scheduled for Oct.

NetGalley/Severn House

Mystery/Romance.  Nov. 1, 2017.  Print length:  224 pages.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Whispers of Warning by Jessica Estevao

Although the second in the Change of Fortune series, Whispers of Warning functioned well as a stand-alone.  I liked the setting--a spiritualist hotel with echoes of the real spiritualist towns of Lily Dale, NY and Cassadaga, Florida.  

Ruby Proulx is happy to be living with her aunt in a hotel which offers various psychic readings to its guests.  Ruby is a "clairaudient"--a voice guides her talent as a medium, and her abilities are growing.

When Sophronia Foster Eldridge arrives as a guest, Ruby is impressed at both Sophronia's reputation as a Spiritualist and as an outspoken Suffragette.  But Sophronia's goal is more complicated than purely seeking the vote, and she presents a threat to someone who wants to derail her platform.

Ruby begins to recognize that Sophronia has a manipulative side, yet she still wants to support Sophronia's goal of gaining the vote for women.  

While the setting intrigued me, the book was a little slow.  I think I was looking for something similar to Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer, something a little more complex, but I like the cover.

Blog review scheduled for Oct. 17, 2017.

NetGalley/Berkely Publ.

Paranormal Mystery.  Sept. 19, 2017.  Print length:  331 pages.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Scandal in Battersea by Mercedes Lackey

I read the first in Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series over ten years ago, and at the time, I intended to read more.  The only other one I've read is The Wizard of London, but I enjoyed both books and don't know why I never followed through with the entire series.

I didn't even realize A Scandal in Battersea was part of the Elemental Masters series, but as soon as I started reading, the familiarity of certain elements was evident.  

There are wizards, psychics, mediums, hobs, and spirits, and a school for young children with magical abilities.    Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson and his wife Mary also play important roles, along with Lord Alderscroft, Master of the White Lodge.

The previous books in the series take a fairy tale as a starting point, but the association is very loose and transferred to the Victorian era.  A Scandal in Battersea makes a slight departure into a folklore figure. 

A vague and powerful evil begins inserting itself into the world, but as young women begin disappearing, the threat increases and London itself could be utterly devastated.  Psychic Nan Killian and Medium Sarah Lyon-White are enlisted by Dr. Watson and Mary to examine a young woman who had herself committed to an asylum for disturbing visions of murders.  Her latest vision is of London in ruins.  The initial question is whether the visions are delusions or evidence of clairvoyant abilities.

Whatever this ancient evil is " will take the combined forces of Magic, Psychic Powers, and the worlds greatest detective to stop the darkness before it can conquer all."

It would be an advantage to have read more of the books in this series.  Although the books I read years ago let me recognize a few things, I would like to know more of the background of characters like Nan and Sarah and about some of their previous adventures.  

NetGalley/Berkley Publishing

Fantasy/Supernatural.  Oct. 17, 2017.  Print length:  320 pages.