Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Åre Murders Book One) by Viveca Sten translated by Marlaine Delargy
This start to a Swedish murder mystery set in the northern skiing area of the country made me shiver for many reasons. A few of the flawed central characters were well-developed because it was told from multiple POVs. Hanna Ahlander is taking a break from her stressful job working with battered women for the Stockholm police but the young woman who comes to clean at the home where she’s staying, her sister’s place in the mountains, shows signs of being battered. Meanwhile, an eighteen-year-old woman from the area has gone missing after a party and the local police, led by Daniel Lindskog, set out to investigate. As others have noted, there is some strange formatting in a few of the early chapters at least in the Kindle version of the story, which distracted from the multiple plots. Otherwise, this is a solid Nordic noir story.
Tuesday, December 6, 2022
Five-star review of The Case of the Canterfell Codicil (Anty Boisjoly Mysteries Book One) by PJ Fitzsimmons
This fun quick read features two locked room mysteries and, to solve them, as the POV main character, Anthony Boisjoly, a witty Englishman whose greatest accomplishment was being on the Oxford rowing team. Former teammate Evelyn Fairfax (‘Fiddles’) Canterfell invites Anty to join him at the families manor in Sussex when his uncle jumps from a window of a locked room and that’s just the start of the excitement. Like most amateur detectives, he notices much the police don’t. The setting is very British including the town where the manor is located. I enjoyed this novel enough to look forward to the next one in the series.
Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Three-star review of Over Her Dead Body by Susan Walter
Tuesday, November 22, 2022
Five-star review of Keeper of Enchanted Rooms (Whimbrel House Book 1) by Charlie N. Holmberg
Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Four-star (more like 4.5-star) review of A Train to Moscow by Elena Gorakhova
Tuesday, November 8, 2022
Five-star review of Vox by Christina Dalcher
Tuesday, November 1, 2022
Three-star review of Credible Threat, Ali Reynolds series book 15 by J.A. Jance
Tuesday, October 25, 2022
Four-star review for Can I Get There By Candlelight?
Tuesday, October 18, 2022
Five-star review of Grand Ellipse by Paula Volsky
This book was surprisingly enjoyable to read. I thought it would be like Around the World in Eighty Days, but it was so much more. In a fantasy world, a self-styled adept has created a form of fire that is green and responds to his mental commands. The rulers other nations in the world all want this potential military weapon, but the king who sponsors the adept claims neutrality. The king is portrayed as a man who has whims and when he does he follows them whole-heartedly. His latest is to sponsor a contest, the Grand Ellipse, in which contestants from many nations follow a prescribed route through many countries. The government of Vonahr sends two entrants, a woman they hope will win and then get the ear of the King to offer a substantial sum for the so-called Sentient Fire, and a man to make sure she wins. The series of experiences are mostly followed through the eyes of this woman, Luzelle Devaire, and many are much more dangerous than anything Phineas Fogg ever encountered. Along the way she, the other contestants, and the reader learn about the atrocities the nation of Grewzia are willing to inflict on the peoples of the lands they’ve recently conquered or otherwise made part of their imperium. The political angle of the story brings to mind the land grabs by Germany during WWII, but also more recent events.
Wednesday, October 12, 2022
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
Four-star review of The Night Searchers by Marcia Muller
Sharon’s P.I. firm’s client and Hy’s security company’s
case intertwine early on. With Hy off on another international assignment, it’s
up to Sharon to steer both teams to find out what the Night Searchers, a bunch
of folks seeking thrills as a relief from boring lives, have to do with her
client’s wife seeing unbelievable and grisly events. Despite a number of
inconsistencies, which could have been avoided by more careful editing, this is
a fast, engaging and often exciting read. Many of the regulars of the series
are here in one capacity or another. Others are mentioned but don’t appear. I’ve
been reading the last ten or so books in this series out of order, but that
hasn’t dulled my enjoyment of this 30th book in the series.
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
Four-star review of The King’s Highway by Caryl McAdoo
I was not prepared for such a faith-based post-apocalyptic story but it was well-enough written for me to enjoy this quick middle-grade read. I only gave it four stars more because of the section near the end extolling the superiority of Red River Texas rednecks. They couldn’t be the only ones to continue a peaceful way of life after an EMP (and possibly Russian aggression) knocked out all electric and electronic parts of life as we know it in the 21st Century. The young characters are wonderful and their journey across the state was often exciting. I’d read more about them if I knew the author wouldn’t harp on the idea that this was the only town or community starting to rebuild. This is the first of a series, so there are more adventures ahead for fifteen-year-old Jackson and his band of kids.
Tuesday, September 6, 2022
Five-star review of The Brighter the Light by Mary Ellen Taylor
We follow a family’s history in two time periods. In the present part of the story, Ivy Neale returns from New York City to the beachfront cottage in North Carolina’s Outer Banks where she grew up with her Grandmother Ruth. Ruth has died and the family’s seaside resort was destroyed by a storm that also uncovered the shipwreck of the Liberty T. Mitchell. The wreck is subject of all sorts of ghostly stories, but none as gripping as the story of what happened at the resort in 1950 when Ruth was twelve years old and working with her adoptive parents to keep the resort going. As we go back and forth between Ruth’s childhood story and Ivy’s current one, secret after secret is revealed. Although some seem contrived, the cast of characters are interesting enough to keep my interest. Ruth is intrigued by the singer, Carlotta, whose showboat is in dry dock for repairs while she’s chosen to sing at the resort. Ivy must face Dani, her former best friend, and Matthew, her ex-boyfriend, that she left behind twelve years ago to become a chef in New York. As Ivy sifts through her grandmother’s hoard of items from the resort, she finds photographs from the summer of 1950. She also leans more about her grandmother and herself, including what she wants to do with the rest of her life. This book is not my usual read, but I liked the mysteries and the characters.
Tuesday, August 30, 2022
Five-star review of Killer by Jonathan Kellerman
Tuesday, August 23, 2022
Four-star review of Perseid Collapse: A Post-Apocalyptic Survival Thriller (Alex Fletcher Book 2) by Steven Konkoly
Tuesday, August 9, 2022
Five-star review of Deep Sleep by Steven Konkoly
This is the first in a conspiracy series in which Devin Gray, a counterespionage agent, is tasked by his mother after her death with following up on her work to unearth a huge Soviet sleeper cell in the US. He doesn’t work on it alone. The characters are mostly fleshed out and some progress is made in this first book on finding second and third generation members of the cell, a few in positions of power, but there is obviously a huge amount for Devin and his crew to do in the sequels. Great action sequences but the quieter ones are also well-written. I look forward to spending more time with Devin and his friends.
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
Five-star review of The Last Lie Told by Debra Webb
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
Four-star review of Aeon Rising: The Apocalypse Rises by Matthew Mather
Watching the effects of Aeon (a supernova or maybe hypernova) on the Brazilian rainforest with Max Carver, on the western US with his very pregnant wife Talisha, at an Antarctic research station with Dr. Xin Rou and on D.C. with Senator Copeland and Colonel Buchannan was interesting enough. Then throw in the conspiracies, the experiments at the Colony Max was sent to, and assorted other complications to deepen the plot and raise the tension throughout the novel. Although there were some positives at the end, there were also still so many unanswered questions and possibilities of what would happen next, that I’ll definitely read the second in the series. That lack of a clear-cut ending led to me giving it four stars instead of five.
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Four-star review of The Peacekeeper (The Good Lands book 1) by B. L. Blanchard
Chibenashi is a Peacekeeper in the village of Baawitigong in the Great Lakes Ojibwa nation of a never colonized North America. Twenty years earlier, his mother was murdered during a Manoomin celebration and his father admitted to killing her, so Chibenashi has raised his sullen, withdrawn much younger sister. Now, a woman who has helped him and his sister has been murdered during the same ceremony. His father cannot be responsible since he’s incarcerated in a Shikaakwa prison. The world-building in this novel is commendable including all the cultural differences from life in the US as we know it. I can see why Chibenashi didn’t figure out who the murderer was until near the end of this story, but those around him should have been able to. It was obvious to me. And the true nature of the killer, though a sudden reveal, was predictable.
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
Three-star review of Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan
So far in the series, this fifth one was my least favorite. As usual too much unnecessary description, of course, but also, the focus on Rand and his internal struggles confirms he’s my least favorite character. I like all the women, but they’re all becoming too negative. The dream world was a good way to have the women meet up. Mat’s become a two- or at most three-note character, his gambling, womanizing and fighting his destiny are defining him. And where was Perrin? We spent more time with Siuan than Moiraine and almost none with Lan. It’ll be a while before I start book six, mainly because I don’t care about these characters as much as I did in the earlier books. After the interesting parts about the Aiel in the previous book, they just seem to be there. Yes, the maidens are guarding Rand but their part in the battles is minimal. All in all, a disappointment.
Tuesday, May 31, 2022
Four-star review of Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliott
Overall good start to a cozy mystery series with a few characters that bear further development. Addie Greybourne has inherited her great aunt’s mansion in Greybourne Harbour, as well as her father’s and aunt’s book collection, so she opens a bookshop in the small New England town, that, like all those British small towns, has more murders, and murderers, than residents. And, of course, Addie gets involved. Even the deaths of her father and aunt come under suspicion. This was a quick read.
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Four-star review of The Frequency by Amy Quick Parrish
This novella, or maybe a very long short story, has a good premise and characters you care about but after a big reveal just ends. There’s every indication that the story will continue, but it seems to be just getting started, that what we have here is a prelude to a more complete story. After her home and her hometown are wiped out by a monster storm and her parents are killed, Emily sets out to find her grandmother and uncovers a conspiracy. So, it’s intriguing and I enjoyed it, as long as it.
Tuesday, May 17, 2022
This sixth book in this family of books (the author doesn’t want to call it a series) follows Felix’s eventual journey to Australia at the age of 14. His voice is still enthralling, but the characters of Anya and Gosling aren’t as well developed as Zelda and Gabriek were in the earlier books. Some the situations the kids got into seemed overdone. I didn’t feel tension from the ongoing threat of Zliv until the very end. Still, I read this short book in just three days (between everything else I was doing.) Each time I picked it up, I had a hard time putting it down. It comes back to Felix’s voice, the way he tells the story. Maybe it should be four-and-a-half stars.
Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Four-star review of First Encounter by Jasper Scott
This first novel in a new series from one of my favorite Sci-Fi authors has its high points and parts that were uncomfortable for me. Scott created several likeable and dislikeable characters aboard a colony ship from Earth. Their first encounter with alien life leads to unexpected consequences for the officers and colonists, as well as for Earth. How will Clayton and the others get out of the situation they find themselves in at the end? And will they ever successfully set up an Earth colony? Guess I’ll have to read on to find out.
Wednesday, May 4, 2022
Five-star review of Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
4-star review of Cleopatra’s Dagger by Carole Lawrence
Elizabeth is a newspaperwoman in late 19th Century New York City, although she comes from a wealthy family. She goes from covering society stories to being a crime reporter after witnessing a murder and then finding a body where ground is being prepared for installation of the title monument behind the Museum of Natural History, but that’s really the last we read about Cleopatra’s Dagger. The author did her research on conditions during the time of the story, and it shows. There are interesting characters that could be filled out even more. The writing is smooth making for a quick read. Most of the tension is left to the imagination of the reader, but I understand how hard it is to write dangerous situations for a protagonist.
Tuesday, April 19, 2022
Five-star review of My Evil Mother by Margaret Atwood
Actually a long short story, The Evil Mother is about a child’s belief and interpretation of what her mother has told her. Do we consider our mothers’ warnings as coming from a concerned parent or a witch? Do our mothers try to scare us into complying with their demands? If your answer to these questions was ever yes, you’ll be able to relate to the narrator. And when do we become our mothers?
Wednesday, April 13, 2022
Four-star review of Murder at the Mortuary by Lee Strauss
Thursday, March 24, 2022
Four-star review of City of Whispers by Marcia Muller
Years ago, I read all the Marcia Muller books I could get my hands on, but I’ve been reading so many other novels lately that I fell behind on the Sharon McCone series. In this one, the twenty-eighth, Sharon is looking for her unstable half-brother Darcy Blackhawk with help from nephew Mick and eventually from her husband. Many of the familiar characters, including other members of her staff are mentioned but don’t appear. With Darcy missing and possibly a murderer, it falls to Shar to search for him. The story revolves around two dead women and their long-ago group of friends. Sharon needs to unravel what happened to the two women in order to find Darcy, whose emotional unbalance is shown in occasional short characters from his POV. The backdrop of a changing San Francisco helps create the atmosphere of the book—especially the slowly clearing fog. My only quibble was the amount of repetition.
Tuesday, March 15, 2022
Five-star review of The Bone Thief by Claire Buss
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Four-star review of Tall Boots by Linda Wilson
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
As with the first book in this series, I was in the middle of two other books when I started this one and I ignored them until I’d finished this one. It was even better than the first. A young mapmaker’s apprentice has gone missing, and Glass and Steel are asked to find him. India’s hand warms when she touches one of the exquisite maps the apprentice drew, telling her it’s magical, and so is he. Meanwhile, Matt’s Aunt Letitia is trying to arrange a marriage between him and every eligible young woman with at least a little noble blood. Matt’s pals, Cyclops and Duke and his cousin, Willie, join in the fun through the main parts of London in Victorian times. This story involves another guild, this one for mapmakers, as well as the desire to keep their magical abilities secret due to the antipathy of non-magical people.
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
Five-star review of A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Tuesday, February 1, 2022
Four-star review of Sideris Gate: Paradisi Chronicles by Cheri Lasota
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Four-star review of Devil’s Corner by Lisa Scottoline
Tuesday, January 18, 2022
I thoroughly enjoyed Locke’s foray into science fiction with her Ddaera trilogy and was glad to see her sense of humor again in this historical mystery. Billed as a Victorian San Francisco Mystery doesn’t do it enough justice. Annie Fuller, a young widow whose husband lost any money they had and then committed suicide, finds herself the proprietress of a mansion that has been turned into a boarding house. There, as clairvoyant Sybil to earn extra money, she advises gentlemen about how to invest their funds based on a study of business conditions. When a client, Matthew Voss, is murdered, one of Voss’s lawyers comes looking for Sybil because Voss left her stocks. Annie becomes involved in the case and with the lawyer, disguising herself even more to act as a maid in Voss’s home. This is the first book in a long series. I look forward to reading more about Annie, her boarders and staff, and the lawyer, Nate.
Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Four-star review of Hidden Prey by John Sandford
Tuesday, January 4, 2022
Five-star review of Through Ddaera’s Touch by M. Louisa Locke
Although a few thread are left dangling after the end of this third book of the Caelestis Trilogy of the Paradisi Chronicles, it still is a satisfying ending. The development of the relationship of Mei Lin and Jaxon, the wonderful sentient Daeran animals and hybrids, and the cooperation among the Daerans, the Challenger passengers and at least some of the original settlers all contribute to the enjoyment. Although there are a few other Paradisi Chronicle books, I hope there’s another series coming where Mei Lin’s brother Albert gets his due and she shows everyone why her great grandmother made Mei Lin her heir. I also want to know what caused the psychic abilities of a few of the characters, perhaps from Dr. Eleanor’s viewpoint.