Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Convenient Death by Laurel Heidtman

A Convenient Death (An Eden Mystery)A Convenient Death by Laurel Heidtman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Convenient Death is a mystery set in a small, college town in Kentucky. Two bodies, an elderly man, Kenneth Griswold, and the store clerk, Tracy Andrews, are found in the backroom of a convenience store. They've both been shot. The ballistics report shows the bullets came from a single gun, but the murder weapon is not found in any of the logical dumping grounds.

Jo Valentine, a detective in the Eden Police Department, is assigned the case. She soon finds something unusual about these murders. Tracy had an overactive sex life with lots of emotional baggage and Kenneth had his own set of secrets. These issues, along with the setting, a convenience store during the night shift, provide Jo with an enormous list of suspects. The problem is too many people with reasons to kill.

A Convenient Death is a well written novel and one that is hard to put down. The characters care for each other and worry about their personal lives. They act like people normally do in work environments, sometimes getting along well, sometimes not. The dialogue is well constructed with banter that is believable for a police department. There's also a good deal of tension throughout the book, not only through confrontations with suspects, but also with office politics.

This is an excellent book for anyone who enjoys murder mysteries.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul, White Horse Regressions, Hopatcong Vision Quest, and Under a Warped Cross.


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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Nights Arose by Andrea Roche

Nights AroseNights Arose by Andrea Roche
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nights Arose is a good vs. evil story centered in 17th century Jamaica, but spreading out as far as the Sea of Marmara in Turkey. The novel is filled with magic on both sides: power to transform people into animals, power to witness events in the past, power to make oneself invisible, power to create great storms, and many others. These powers go head to head like opposing armies on a battlefield, increasing in page-turning intensity as the book moves on.

The “good” is represented by Nessarose (Arose) Du Mouchelle, a young woman blessed with exceptional talents - enhanced by the magic of a gem stone given to her by Bess, a gypsy woman. “De spirit of de stone will protec' you always.” The “evil” is represented by Morel, a Voodoo priestess, whose power seems to grow with each paragraph. Her goal is to steal the powerful gem and use it for her own purposes.

What I enjoyed the most about this novel is that it is not only a fantasy about a war between good and evil, but also Arose's coming of age story. This young woman is able to send her spirit into the astral plane, and, from there, witness events she has already lived. We get to see her youth, as she competes with her friends and first meets her Uncle's valet, who will turn out to be important to her. We also get to see her awakening sexuality, which happens in a beautifully written vision:

Her center started to ache. She thought of how liquid his movements were. How each movement, once begun, tumbled imperceptibly to the next, cascading as water would over rocks in a stream...She wanted him; she wanted his strong arms around her.

I recommend this novel for fans of well written fantasy.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul, White Horse Regressions, Hopatcong Vision Quest, and Under a Warped Cross.


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Thursday, August 30, 2018

What Angels Fear by C S Harris

What Angels Fear (Sebastian St. Cyr, #1)What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What Angels Fear is a fast paced historical thriller written by C. S. Harris and a fun read.

This book is the first in a series of novels about a nineteenth century, aristocrat in London, named Sebastian St. Cyr (or Lord Devlin). Sebastian has an array of talents which help him deal with violent opponents, including sensitive hearing and eyesight. He is also blessed with athletic abilities he uses to escape from his opponents when he can. Sebastian St. Cyr seems like a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Batman, but if you're looking for a light read and a page turner, this is a good thing.

I enjoyed the characters surrounding Sebastian. In some ways they are cliché, a rich father who has trouble communicating, a wily young boy who attaches himself to our hero, and a beautiful actress who loves Sebastian, but doesn't feel worthy of him. Yet there is depth to these characters and as we discover the details of their lives we understand the ways they are unique. I believe Harris' choices work well.

I also enjoyed the picture of 19th century London this author created, complete with the stench of the polluted Thames and the effect of the class system on the lives of ordinary people.

I intend to read other books in this series

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul, White Horse Regressions, Hopatcong Vision Quest, and Under a Warped Cross.





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Friday, August 10, 2018

The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff

The Kommandant's Girl (The Kommandant's Girl, #1)The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Kommandant's Girl is a World War II novel set in Poland. The main character, Emma, is a jew who hides in plain sight by switching her name to Anna and taking on the identity of a gentile. Her husband, an active member of the resistance has arranged this opportunity to keep her safe and to protect the young son of a prominent Rabbi who also poses as a gentile.

But Emma/Anna is soon offered an opportunity to work for the local Nazi Kommandant. Working with her enemy will be dangerous, yet the opportunity is too good to pass. She might be able to use her new position to collect important information. This chance is even more important because her parents are living and suffering in the Jewish ghetto.

It soon becomes clear that Emma's boss is attracted to her. This presents a much greater opportunity for the resistance and a difficult choice for Emma. Should she allow her relationship with the Kommandant to move from business to romance? If she betrays her husband, she might discover something that would help the cause and perhaps even save his life. Yet, would Emma's infidelity be more than Jacob would willingly sacrifice? And what about her own feelings? It didn't help that Emma was drawn to the Kommandant, despite his role in the Nazi atrocities.

The strength of Pam Jenoff's novel lies in Emma's dilemma. Under normal circumstances, her values would lead her toward a quiet life of love and devotion to her husband. But the circumstances in war time Poland were far from normal.

Emma makes some decisions as the novel runs its course that are so stupid they lack credibility, but overall her character is well drawn and interesting. Her major decisions are dangerous, difficult and emotional, yet understandable. I love novels that keep me thinking after I've read them. The Kommandant's Girl is one of those.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul, White Horse Regressions, Hopatcong Vision Quest, and Under a Warped Cross.



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Monday, July 23, 2018

Wanderling by Hannah Stahlhut

Wanderling (Spirit Seeker Book 1)Wanderling by Hannah Stahlhut
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wanderling is an exciting YA novel about a seventeen year-old woman, Adala, and her younger brother, Shem. They live in the city of Gerstadt, in the empire of Bolgir. This is a society that has reached a time when people sail the sea under wind power and fight battles with knives, swords, and bows and arrows. They are a privileged society, but a brutal one, banishing anyone found guilty of a crime to the surrounding desert and never allowing them or their descendants to return. The banished people have formed into tribes which compete for the meager resources in the desert.

Adala and her brother are forced to leave their home for a village of banished people when Shem's unique skills are revealed. Shem is kidnapped and Adala follows him. The plot is about Adala's efforts to protect her brother, but also about her relationships and dreams. She is a trained, efficient warrior, but also an emotional teenager.

The land of Gerstadt and the people who reside there are carefully described with each detail having purpose and fitting into the plot like pieces of a puzzle. This is the first volume of a series (Spirit Seeker), so there are unanswered questions leading readers toward book 2. Yet Wanderling still stands on its own. It is a well-written, exciting novel with a carefully woven plot.

Steve Lindahl - author of Motherless Soul, White Horse Regressions, Hopatcong Vision Quest, and Under a Warped Cross.


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Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Baker's Husband by Jeannie Sharpe


The Baker's Husband is a mystery/romance. The mystery surrounds Chloe Livingston's husband, who has been gone for two year, since an accident where his car was totaled but he wasn't found. The romance involves Mitchell Terrison, a detective who is in charge of finding Chloe's missing husband. Although two years is a long time and Chloe finds she is attracted to Mitchell, her feelings are complicated by her belief in the sanctity of marriage and the fact that despite numerous problems, Chloe loved her husband.

The most fascinating part of this book, is Mitchell's dilemma. He's competing with the man he's trying to find, who may or may not be dead. I was reminded of Rebecca by Dame Daphne du Maurier, although in The Baker's Husband the story is about a potentially dead man rather than a dead woman.

Another aspect I found interesting in the book was Chloe's religious beliefs. She's a Christian who prays often, both in public and in private. I like the way Jeannie Sharpe handled this aspect of Chloe's personality. Of course Chloe prayed for miracles, but more often she prayed for strength. And the plot followed a logical path rather than one altered by divine intervention.

The book reads quickly and the dialogue is especially well constructed. This is a good read for anyone who likes a unique romance.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul, White Horse Regressions, Hopatcong Vision Quest, and Under a Warped Cross.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas

Prayers for SalePrayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Prayers for Sale is a series of short stories linked together with a book length narrative about the relationship between two women living in the Colorado mountains during the gold rush years. One of the women is 86 and has lived in Middle Swan for many years. The other is a young woman who has just moved to the small mountain town with her husband. The younger is lonely and needs a friend, while the older needs someone who is interested in hearing the stories of her life. Both women have experienced similar tragedies and have a need to share the pain.

The book's strength is in Sandra Dallas' ability to capture life among the women of this small nineteenth century town: their language, their quilting, their gossiping, their society class levels, and the way they forget all these things to help each other during hard times. The plot that unifies the story is a little spotty, with elements that are introduced, then forgotten, then brought back in ways that could have been handled better. Also, the overall narrative doesn't come into its own until the end of the book.

Steve Lindahl – author of Under a Warped Cross, Hopatcong Vision Quest, White Horse Regressions, and Motherless Soul.


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