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Tag: "mystery"

Review: Lady of the Bog by Peter Hayes

[ 1 ] April 17, 2014

18619311Reviewed by Amanda Farmer

My Lady of the Bog was the first book I have read by Peter Hayes. After reading it, I have mixed feelings. The story opens to Xander Donne, an American anthropologist finding a mysterious lady buried in an English bog with her body staked, treasures buried with her, and a book that he is unable to translate without help. He becomes obsessed with finding out her identity and why she was buried in the bog seven hundred years ago. What he doesn’t realize is that his Lady of the Bog is not just any ordinary sacrifice. She may well have been a witch or something greater, possibly a Deshi princess–no one really knows. He is determined to uncover her identity at all costs.

As Xander strives to uncover his Lady, he soon finds himself transported to medieval India, with his complicated love, Vidya. Vidya has her own complicated past and quite a lot of baggage. Xander believes that no matter what, the two of them will find out his Lady’s identity and have a life together. The book he found with his Lady seems to be enchanted and has the ability to really pull the reader into its pages, literally. As he deciphers the book, he realizes there is more at stake than just his need to find out who his Lady is–his life and career are at stake.

I found the book’s summary to be interesting in that it had mystery, love, sacrifice, intrigue and history all in one. Unfortunately I found the book itself to be too long winded and confusing at times. I felt like there were too many plot holes to the story and that everyone just took whatever they saw as fact without questioning anything. All the pieces seemed to fall too neatly into place as the story progressed and became to unbelievable for me. I didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters and I wanted to. I wanted to like this story but had a hard time finishing it because of the inconsistencies. Towards the end, I found myself losing interest in who the Lady of the Bog was and why she was buried in the English bog all those years ago.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Amanda loves spending time at home with her husband and their dog, Oreo. She loves reading, playing puzzle games, beading and watching movies. When she’s not reading, she’s working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by The Permanent Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Regency Detective by David Lassman & Terence James

[ 1 ] April 8, 2014

the-regency-detective-2013-x-200Reviewed by Caleb Shadis

The Regency Detective was written by two authors, David Lassman and Terence James, and I’m fairly certain that I could point out who wrote which parts. There was the story that was the driving force of the book, and there was the history which gave background and ambiance. There was lots of cool history but there was also the ‘ya, ya, let’s get on with the story’ history. At times, it really felt like the mystery was just a way for them to convey their knowledge of the location where the story was taking place. That got irritating.

As far as I can tell this is the first book in the series but it feels like the second or third. This is supposed to be a mystery series and we get three separate mysteries in this book alone. Who killed Jack Swann’s father, who does Lockhart work for (the man courting Jack’s sister) and who committed the murders. The first is an obvious several book arc and I didn’t really expect it to end in this one. The second has some kind of overlap with the first. The third is where I dropped the stars down to 3.5. The third mystery – the one that gets solved – doesn’t even begin until almost two thirds of the way through the book. It felt like “Oh ya! We need to give them a mystery that is actually solved in THIS book!” In many ways this book felt like an episode instead of a full book.

Jack Swann is a man on a mission. When he was 12 he witnessed the murder of his father, and he has been trying to find the murderer ever since. He was adopted by the family his father worked for and grew up with his “sister”, Mary. When Jack was old enough, he set himself up as a detective (along the lines of Sherlock Holmes, without the chemical dependencies). He has made a name for himself and is doing quite well with the business. He can pick and choose his cases, but he never passes up a case that might relate to the murder of his father. This is how he ends up going to Bath.

Wherever Jack goes, trouble seems to be able to find him. He also has been practicing the art of observation and thus has a very good memory. He also has the remarkable ability to put together odd clues–even ones that are not apparently related. I like Jack and I am certainly willing to try the next book in the series. I hope by then the writing has evened out a bit and the story flows smoothly.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by The History Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Secrets She Carried by Barbara Davis

[ 4 ] March 24, 2014

16056382Reviewed by Colleen Turner

After losing her job in the print magazine publishing world of New York City two years previously, Leslie Nichols is quickly running out of money and options for making any. After receiving a message that the time limit for her to accept her claim to her grandmother’s estate is fast approaching, Leslie thinks this might be the perfect opportunity for her. Yes, she has refused to return to her family home of Peak Plantation for thirty years after her mother’s tragic death and has no wish to relieve the painful memories that tragedy stirs up. But she has nothing better to be doing right now and selling the plantation might solve her money issues. And with her ex-con father – the man everyone believes was responsible for her mother’s death – recently released from jail and sure to be tracking her down for money soon, returning to Peak Plantation also offers her a way of avoiding him. She can swallow her fear of the past, sell the plantation and move on for good.

Getting rid of Peak Plantation doesn’t prove to be as easy as she hoped, however. Someone else has a claim as well. Jay Davenport, the caretaker of Peak who took care of Leslie’s grandmother before she died, has been cultivating the land Leslie’s grandmother left to him in the hopes of turning it into a prosperous winery. For better or worse, Leslie and Jay will have to work together to do what is best for Peak as well as themselves. But as Leslie and Jay continue long buried secrets of the plantation and Leslie’s family begin to surface, including the life and death of a lady’s maid, Adele Laveau, who came to the plantation in the 1930s. As the two restore Peak and delve into its various mysteries they will be forced to face shocking truths – about Adele, Leslie’s family and each other – that will change their lives forever.

The Secrets She Carried does that wonderful thing so many books I’ve enjoyed lately do: effortlessly combine the past and the present, swirling the secrets and truths of the two timelines together until all the connections are laid open for the reader to marvel at. The modern day story of Leslie and Jay was very enjoyable, showing a slow but sweet love affair open up for these two characters that have been hurt in the past and need each other’s perspectives and honesty to move on from the pain they have been harboring. Without giving anything away the way the conflict between Leslie and her father is brought to a head is incredibly touching and I think the way both Leslie and Jay learn to open up and let other people in was spot on.

As usual the story line set in the past was my favorite part, however. Adele is such a captivating character and what she does for love is heartbreaking. While some of the secrets we learn were easy to see coming, other aspects were a total surprise for me and had me going back and rereading earlier passages to see how I could have possibly missed it. That, for me, made The Secrets She Carried that much more entertaining and a book I will remember for some time.

The Secrets She Carried is a touching look at the damage secrets can cause and the redemptive power of facing your demons, letting go of the past and opening yourself up to others. None of the characters are perfect which makes them easily relatable and sympathetic. Even thought the novel wraps up neatly by the end I enjoyed the characters so much that I have a secret hope the author writes a sequel so I can continue with the story of Leslie, Jay and Peak Plantation. That, to me, proves how enjoyable this novel is.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by NAL. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Never Go Back by Child Lee

[ 3 ] March 5, 2014

914axwbH+PL._SL1500_Reviewed by Caleb Shadis

Never Go Back is the 18th book in the Jack Reacher series. I’ve listened to several earlier ones, and all of them have Jack Reacher as a large man that doesn’t back down to anyone for any reason. He finds a threat of any kind a challenge and you better be willing and able to back it up.

This time Reacher has finally decided to look up Susan Turner, the new commander of his old unit (had a part in 61 Hours four books earlier). He was attracted to her then and since he’s in the area, he stops in to say hello and see if the person matches the voice. He’s disappointed. She isn’t in residence any more. As a matter of fact she was arrested just the previous day, for accepting a bribe of all things. The man sitting in for Major Turner also seems to be laying in wait for Reacher. He has a sucker punch; he reenlists Reacher and orders him to stay in the area and await trial. He’s accused of both a murder and not paying child support.

Needless to say, with Reacher, this is just like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Not only that, less than five minutes after he is dropped off at his cheap motel, a couple of military type bad boys show up to run him off. Little do they know what they are getting themselves into!

The harder someone pushes Reacher away, the harder he pushes back. When he is arrested for the brutal beating of Susan’s lawyer, Reacher has had enough and decides to take matter into his own hands. Someone is trying very hard to cover something up and isn’t afraid to get some else’s hands a little dirty in the process.

Reacher is mostly Reacher. He likes women, he protects the innocent and permanently deals with bad guys with extreme prejudice. He is violence incarnate when he lets loose and he does so with no remorse. Most of these stories appeal because Reacher does things many would like to do to those who oppress and force their wants on others. He’s an avenging angel.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Delacorte Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour: The Fixer by T.E. Woods

[ 9 ] February 26, 2014

the-fixer_approved2-225x300Please join T.E. Woods, author of The Fixer, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!

Reviewed by Jessa Larsen

The Fixer is a person you hire when you need something fixed in a very permanent manner. She has strict standards and criteria, so you better have good reasons behind your request. She doesn’t do more than one job per country, per year. She’ll only fix your problem if there is absolutely no way it can be fixed any other way. The Fixer does her job with skill and precision. There will never be a trail or an investigation; the law will never be involved. She is invisible and lethal.

Unbeknownst to The Fixer, there are mechanisms at work which may prove to be her very undoing. A beautiful young female is in emotional turmoil. She makes the decision to visit a clinical psychologist in quiet Olympia, Washington. She puts up walls and behaves in an extremely guarded fashion, telling only riddles and lies. A few towns over, in Seattle, a detective is working a complex case whilst also trying to help his son, a dedicated journalist, look into a suspicious death. They begin to follow a trail that seems to only become more tangled as they get closer and closer to knocking on the death’s door.

I’ve read so many mystery novels and psychological thrillers that I can typically figure out “whodunit” before I even reach the halfway mark. The Fixer, to my pleasant surprise, wove its story in such a fashion that it really got me wondering and second guessing myself. I enjoyed how well Woods crafted each character, making them relatable, likable, complex, and interesting. There were so many facets to the story line, yet it was put together in an intelligent and understandable way.

This is definitely a book you don’t want to start too late into your evening, as you’re not going to be able to put it down. You’re going to have to grab a cup of coffee and pull an all-nighter to find out how this story ends. Woods has a sequel coming out in June 2014 and I can’t wait to find out what she will come up with next.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, 2 sons, 2 dogs and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She is a full time mom and enjoys writing short stories in her spare time. She also likes watching anime, reading books, and playing video games.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Alibi Publishing. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon

[ 4 ] February 13, 2014

17618286Reviewed by Colleen Turner

On August 6th, 1930, Judge Joseph Crater – a man with seedy mob ties who was under suspicion for purchasing his seat on the New York State Supreme Court – disappeared without a trace. To this day his disappearance remains a mystery. The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress uses what is known about Judge Crater, his various connections and the people closest to him to present a thrilling and emotional story of what might have brought down this flawed and powerful man.

The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress is told from the point of view of the three women closest to Joseph Crater: his wife Stella, their maid Maria Simon and Crater’s mistress Sally Lou Ritz. Ariel Lawhon does an excellent job of bringing these three women to life, flaws and all. Each woman has gotten herself wrapped tightly into a spot that could prove quite dangerous if they try to break away on their own terms. In a world of dark and seedy speakeasies where powerful and violent men hold all the cards, the women will have to keep level heads and beat the men at their own games to survive.

The pacing is perfect, starting the story 39 years after the judge’s disappearance with Stella coming back to one of her husband’s favorite hangouts, Club Abbey, on the day of Crater’s disappearance for her annual vigil and meeting with Maria’s husband, Jude Simon, one of the detectives assigned to investigate the judge’s disappearance. From there the story goes back and forth, releasing little tidbits and details from each woman until the truth is revealed to Jude in a letter from Stella given to him before she leaves the club for the last time. The excitement and emotion is really in the details, however, with the reader being pulled along on a thrilling mystery that leaves you guessing but one that also forces you to become emotionally invested in the plights of the players with good hearts who are pushed into doing things they wouldn’t do in a different time and place. But don’t be fooled for a moment into thinking that every person involved is good or innocent. There are some vicious characters sprinkled throughout, namely Judge Crater himself and Owney Madden, the mobster who seems to be pulling all the strings. There are a number of bright lights and kind hearts to be seen, but there is just as much vice, lust and greed and that keeps the story moving at an exhilarating pace.

I was not aware of Judge Crater’s disappearance or the mystery and legend surrounding it before reading The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress but this captivating novel has me very excited to read more details and theories which, to me, is the hallmark of a great story and an equaling talented author. I’m very excited to see what Ariel Lawhon presents next.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Doubleday. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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