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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Eye of the Storm by Denise Moncrief



Eye of the Storm by Denise Moncrief
Publisher: Still Moments Publishing
Genre: Mystery/suspense, contemporary
Length: Short Story (26 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Stephantois

Kieran Talbot’s problems as a resident at a Tallahassee hospital force her to take a leave of absence and escape to the beach. One stormy night, a bruised and bloodied man collapses in the front doorway of her borrowed house.

A storm blows in off the warm Gulf waters, promising to drench the coast with the first downpour of a very hot summer. Kieran retreats to the beach house as the deluge begins. Just as she gets comfortable, the door bursts open. Rain soaked and bloody, Davis Jackson falls through the doorway. He needs a hospital, but he doesn’t want the cops involved. Danger follows Davis wherever he goes. Kieran won’t tell him her story and Davis won’t tell her his. Together they must fight for their lives during a Class Three Hurricane on Florida’s Gulf coast.

Kieran's beach getaway is about to take a turn for the mysterious. Relaxing, sun-soaking, and de-stressing were in the plan; a bloody, unexpected visitor during a monsoon...not so much.

Writing a suspense story that keeps you turning the pages isn’t always easy but penning one in only twenty-six pages is even harder. Ms. Moncrief not only kept me in suspense, she pulled me in and carried me from page one to the perfect conclusion. She wasted no time plunging you into the setting, drama, and introducing these two interesting characters. I liked both of them and the constant banter between them which was very realistic. The story unfolded nicely and there were twists and turns I didn’t see coming.

The storm makes this story even more atmospheric and ups the tension level. I really enjoyed the last ten pages and felt like I had to keep reading. It has a satisfying ending and my only complaint…it ended too soon. I would have loved to have seen this story extended into a full length novel.

If you like suspense with just a dash of romance and haven’t got time for a full length mystery, I recommend this one to you. I’ll be looking out for more books by the author and the Moonlight Mystery titles.



Monday, May 28, 2012

The Yuletide Yorkshire by Susanne Marie Knight



The Yuletide Yorkshire by Susanne Marie Knight
Minx Tobin Mysteries Case Five:
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Holiday, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (104 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

HO, HO, HO ... OH!

Home for the holidays, Minx Tobin introduces her parents to her homicide lieutenant, Gabe Harris. Unfortunately for her, her ex-fiancĂ© Jared drops in on them, creating friction. But Jared soon needs Minx’s help in the sleuthing department because a gruesome “present” is found under the tree. Once again, Minx is hot on the trail of a desperate killer.

All Gabe wants to do is propose to the woman he loves. Instead, he has to deal with a cast of East Coast characters, including an unexpected murder. Why do dead bodies always seem follow Minx Tobin??

All Minx wanted to do was introduce her new love to her family. He’s a cop and very good looking, as well as a loving man. So when did solving a murder become a "home for the holidays" tradition?

This is Minx’s fifth case, but it’s the first time I’ve read this author’s work. Ms. Knight does a nice job of creating a cozy mystery that's a bit unusual. Who expects your next door neighbor to be shot to death? She gives you enough suspects, all with motive, so it’s not obvious right away who the culprit is. The author writes a story that flows well and includes some jealousy because the next door neighbor’s son was once engaged to Minx and Gabe isn’t sure the attraction is completely over. As Gabe works with Minx to solve this murder, the local cop is unhappy because they are messing in his case and he’s acting a bit funny towards Minx, too. Poor Gabe…

The author writes a good drama/trauma story with almost everyone being a bit guilty for some reason. She also gets you into the romance between Minx and Gabe and you find yourself hoping neither one of them will be bullheaded enough to ruin their budding romance. Ms. Knight kept my attention and kept me reading to see just how she would end the story. I was not disappointed.

If you like a good cozy mystery, get a cup of tea and find a comfortable chair. This one will fill the bill for you. Why not see if you can identify the murderer before Minx? I think you’ll be surprised by the way it turns out.





Friday, May 25, 2012

However Long the Night by David Pereda



However Long the Night by David Pereda
Publisher: Eternal Press
genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery Length: Full Length (281 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poppy

Cuban-born, award-winning Miami Architect and successful real estate developer Cid Milan suddenly faces a dilemma when his dying father reveals to him a shocking twenty-five year old family secret. Cid realizes there is only one thing he can do to unravel the mystery of his own past and right the wrongs committed. He must return to the land he abandoned. In his quest, Cid rediscovers himself and his roots as he searches frantically throughout Cuba for his teenage flame, Sandra, and the secret she kept from him all these years. In the process, Cid learns an invaluable lesson about love, forgiveness and redemption which changes his life forever.

However Long the Night was a gritty, incredibly realistic portayal of life for Cid Milan, a Cuban who came to America more than twenty years prior to the story's real beginning.  Cid wasn't always the most heroic of heroes, at least not at the start.  I admit I struggled to like him for the first several chapters.  He's arrogant, selfish and I wasn't overly impressed with his moral compass (especially about what caused an estrangement between him and his brother, Manny).  Still, as time and pages passed, it became clear that Cid was molded by his past and that underneath the outer layer was a man with a good heart and a sense of right and wrong.  I may not have always agreed with his behavior or choices, but I understood the reason why he acted the way he did.

This story is layered with conflict over conflict, from the discovery of a family secret and Cid's decision to return to Cuba and the things he learns there, to the internal machinations of people looking to betray Cid within Cid's own company.  There's so much going on sometimes, it leaves the reader breathless.

I thorougly enjoyed reading about Cuba. For most of us here in America, Cuba is a land of mystery. We know little about it, and Mr. Pereda certainly embued his story with loads of information about the country:  its sights, sounds and people -- the good and the bad.

I think the story really gained traction once it entered Cuba. More questions were posed, intrigues about Cid's father's past there and the hunt for Sandra, the love of Cid's young life and mother of the son he never knew.  The author writes with flavor and sensual detail.  Occasionally, it slowed the story, but the reader is never truly bored.  Perhaps it's only because we have so many questions and worries that we get frustrated when things don't move forward quickly enough to satisfy the need to discover just what's going to happen.

Overall, though, I recommend However Long the Night, not as a romance as it's billed by the publisher, though there are romantic elements, but as a fascinating suspense with a Cuban flavor and a completely satisfying ending.





Monday, May 21, 2012

Christmas Chaos by Marion Kelley Bullock



Christmas Chaos by Marion Kelley Bullock
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Holiday, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (155 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

A spunky spinster helps rescue a boy, his pigs, and his family from corrupt officials and thieves.

Grace Gary, a young widow, struggles to rear her three children and keep her job. Due to her dirty-dealing boss, she's given 90 days to pay off her mortgage or lose her house. If her son's (Paul's) pigs win the local and then the state fair, they'll make enough money to save their home. But the pigs keep escaping, eating the neighbor's chickens and galloping to Mimi Witherspoon's farm at the edge of town. Police tell Grace to get rid of them. Mimi, known for her Good Works, comes to the rescue, offering to let Paul keep the pigs at her farm. Her nephew, Tim, helps Paul move the pigs and falls in love with Grace. Then the pigs are pignapped. Tim and Paul find the pigs and catch the thieves.

If there is one message you should take away from reading this book it would be this:  Never raise pigs…

Ms. Bullock writes a delightfully heartwarming story of a woman who has lost her husband to cancer and is trying to survive with a mortgage and three children. Grace has no interest in men; she’s too busy trying to keep her head above water.

The author pulls no punches in her story. Grace is the victim of sexual harassment, the bank tries to foreclose on her home for non-payment (despite having extended the mortgage and giving her time to catch up), and her financial situation looks bleak. Grace is good woman with a young man at home who wants to protect her and help with their financial situation. When Paul has a chance to win the pig championship at show, it could result in a financial windfall for them. But someone doesn’t want them to succeed.

This is really a funny story filled with odd characters. It’s so off the wall, it makes it believable. You want to think things like this can’t happen, but there are good and bad people in the world in general and quite a few are in someone else’s pocket. This author’s tale flows well, makes you care about all the “good” characters, even the weird old lady that donates money to good causes and her adopted grandson, Tim. You even start to worry about the pigs as the story goes on.

Christianity is a theme in this story, but it doesn’t overwhelm the story. Ms. Bullock has written a fast moving story with lots of action and antics that will make you laugh out loud. The pigs themselves are a big part of this story and you will want to read about Percy and Priscilla’s shenanigans. Why not get yourself a copy and settle into a comfortable chair and see how long it takes until you find yourself snickering?





Friday, May 18, 2012

The Geneva Connection by Martin Bodenham



The Geneva Connection by Martin Bodenham
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (249 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

When a successful investment banker's unbridled ambition collides with the world's most powerful and most brutal drug cartel, there can only be one loser.

John Kent thought he had it all. The phenomenal success of his private equity firm has propelled him into the world’s wealthy super-league. Self-made and from a poor background, he’s living his dream. Then he discovers his financial backers are a front for the world’s largest organized crime group, the Mexican Caruana drug cartel. It is run by Felix Safuentes, also known as “Jivaro” after the South American tribe famous for decapitating its enemies. Kent’s nightmare hasn’t even started…

John Kent went from being on top of the world to being at the bottom in a moment’s notice. When CBC’s largest backer goes under, he’s left scrambling to find another investor – fast. Enter Tritona – a large Swiss firm willing to invest just what Kent needs plus a lot more. When the truth behind where Tritona’s funds are coming from becomes clear, Kent and his colleagues are in for a rude awakening and an extreme amount of danger. One thing is very clear, however. Sometimes it’s hard to know who the bad guy really is.

The majority of the story is told through the eyes of John Kent, CEO of CBC, a private equity investment firm in the UK. Although he started out as a somewhat likable character, if a bit too money-focused for my tastes, his true colors show before long. His obsession with becoming a billionaire and making as much money as he can winds up being his ultimate downfall. He’s definitely an interesting character to observe. He seems to have a one-track mind: make more money! But in the few instances his wife, Sarah, is in the picture, you see a different side of him, but briefly. Despite the fact I didn’t have much of a connection with him, I did feel sympathy for his situation as the truth of Tritona becomes known and his world crumbles around him.

Probably the most interesting part of this story was the fact that none of the characters are very likable individuals. However, despite that, you are drawn into the story and held firm. I’m not sure if it’s because they all, in some way, manage to get exactly what they deserve or if it’s just a testament to the author’s writing style, but whatever the reason, I couldn’t put The Geneva Connection down once I started it. The intricate plot, laced with just enough background information to make it realistic and understandable, takes twist after turn until you reach the final destination, white-knuckling it all the way. An intense thrill ride through the world of investment banking, drug cartels, and money laundering.





Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Murder in Hum Harbour by Jayne E Self



Murder in Hum Harbour by Jayne E Self
Publisher: Harbourlight Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (265 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

There's a Sleuth on the loose... Part-time medical receptionist, part-time jewelry crafter, Gailynn MacDonald thinks she knows everything about everyone in Hum Harbour, Nova Scotia. That's the way she likes it. But when her former employer Doc Campbell turns up dead aboard his beached yacht, and her sister-in-law becomes the prime suspect, quirky, over-excitable Gailynn vows to unmask the killer. With Geoff Grant, Doc's handsome replacement, by her side Gailynn uncovers secrets and confronts childhood fears. And in the process she discovers that catching a killer is a lot like crafting her seaglass jewelry... it's all in the details.

Doc always did like to drink but no one expected to find him dead on his boat the day after he had retired and taken off for the Caribbean.

This author chose a fictitious harbor in Nova Scotia for her setting in this story. She does an excellent job of painting you a picture with her words so you feel just like you’re there on the waterfront. I enjoyed her term of “versatile weather”. You can get five kinds in one day in the Northwest and I doubt the east coast is any different.

Ms. Self creates a main female character that's a bit shy and insecure but knows what she wants to do with her life. She has a new boss she resents because he got the business when her friend, Lori, was planning on buying it. Her brother is a policeman who wants to become a RCMP, but she’s not sure about his investigative talents. When she learns the doctor was murdered, she starts to get involved in the doctor’s past and town secrets.

The plot moves along well and there are red herrings on the way, as well as bad feelings everywhere as Gai keeps stirring up the past and snooping in the present. Ms. Self gives you more than one suspect and everyone seems to be guilty of something. As the story progresses, the author gives you a few clues here and there. I suspected the murderer before Gai found it out. That was in line with the type of character Gai was, though, so I couldn't fault her for not thinking the way I did.

One of my favorite parts of this story was the romance between Gai and the new doctor, Geoff. They had some differences and some misunderstandings, but good communication between them was settling that down. I’ll be looking forward to the next in this series to see how the relationship progresses and if Andrew ever makes it to being an RCMP. Ms. Self makes you care about her characters and her stories are tempting enough to make you return. Why not get a copy of this cozy mystery and see if you can outguess Gai on the murderer?





Tuesday, May 15, 2012

From Berkeley With Love by Hamilton Waymire



From Berkeley With Love by Hamilton Waymire
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (10 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Stephantois

The hunt for a blackmailer sends private investigator Benson Keirstad on a trip up the California coast. Neither attack dogs nor violent brawls in seedy dives can stop him in the pursuit of his mission. When he finally arrives in Berkeley, an unexpected and deadly showdown awaits him. Could this be Keirstad's last case? A short story.

Combine a classic private investigator tale with a whodunit and you’ve got From Berkeley With Love. I enjoyed all the characters in this story. They were all well drawn and the dialogue was natural sounding. Most of the PI stories I’ve read tend to be gritty but I found this one to be more regular mystery with a cast of potential baddies who had you continually guessing about the identity of the blackmailer.

Mr. Waymire has a clever way of building the plot to a crescendo at just the right moment. There's action and mystery that piqued my interest and kept me glued to the pages to see how Keirstad would spoil the villains plans.

If you have ten or fifteen minutes to spare, and if you’re a die hard mystery fan who likes a PI as a lead character, this very short story will be a good pick for you.



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Resurrection by Linda Swift



Resurrection by Linda Swift
Publisher: Rebecca J. Vickery
Genre: Mystery
Length: Short Story (120 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Charlotte Timberlake wants to write a book about mental illness and persuades a doctor to have her admitted as a patient. When unforeseen events make it impossible for her to leave, she finds herself unable to convince those in charge, her children, or ex-husband that she doesn't belong here. Charlotte soon realizes it is up to her to find a means of escaping the nightmare of her prison.

A staid, middle-aged, divorced mother of two, Charlotte isn’t your typical action-adventure hero. She isn’t unusually strong, fast or limber and she doesn’t have any special abilities or access to top-secret government weapons.

Yet this is exactly why her adventure is such a thrill. How can an ordinary woman outwit a society that assumes everything she says is a symptom of schizophrenia?

I loved Charlotte’s character but had trouble understanding her friend’s motivation for taking such a huge professional and legal risk. As much as I enjoyed the story it really didn’t make sense for her friend to agree to this plan. There was also a certain lack of realism in how easy it was to have Charlotte committed. This being a short story though, I can see how the setup would be convenient for moving the story along to the more pressing plot.

Once Charlotte is admitted it was fascinating to see how she was treated by the doctors and nurses at Central State Hospital. Even reasonable questions and complaints are treated as symptoms of her mental illness and when she becomes understandably angry in response to their dismissive attitudes her reaction is taken as a sign that she’s even more delusional than was previously thought.

I kept wondering how one proves his or her sanity in an environment where everything one says and does is interpreted in the worst possible light. Resurrection doesn’t provide any answers to this question but it did make me think about how much our preconceived ideas about other people in turn affect how they act around us. People really can live up (or down) to the expectations we place on them.

Resurrection is delicious jolt of adrenaline. No sooner will you adjust to one plot twist than another one will jerk you out of your preconceived notions about what will happen next. Will everything turn out okay in the end? The only way to know is to read this book!



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bananas Foster by Sandra Murphy



Bananas Foster (Fingerprints) by Sandra Murphy
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (6 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Stephantois

Everybody has “those days.” The ones where you realize that things aren't what they used to be and may never be again

So you trek off to the doctor's office for a tonic or pill and hope for the best. When the doctor starts with "you're getting older," it's never going to end well. And, if he's going to prescribe "doing something you used to really enjoy," he'd better know what that was before putting the idea in your mind. Some therapies aren't really as helpful as they appear.

I'm not sure whoever first suggested doing a "Random Act of Kindness" had Bernice's version in mind.This spunky little Pink Lady isn't about to grow old gracefully. Especially when she has the opportunity to use her "advanced age" to her benefit. If that whipper snapper of a doctor thinks she should get out and do something fun, by golly she'll show him fun and if it means giving peace of mind to a friend, all the more better.

This is a very quick paced fast read that’s perfect if you have five minutes to spare or maybe waiting in line. It’s full of quirky characters and I thought a unique plot line. Ms. Murphy did a top notch job at fitting in just enough detail for both characters and plot in only six pages.

I didn’t see the ending coming which made it all the more fun. It’s got a good twist to it and a touch of humor, too.



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wish You Were Here by Rita Mae Brown



Wish You Were Here by Rita Mae Brown
Publisher: Bantam Dell
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (242 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Curiosity just might be the death of Mrs. Murphy--and her human companion, Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen. Small towns are like families: Everyone lives very close together. . .and everyone keeps secrets. Crozet, Virginia, is a typical small town-until its secrets explode into murder. Crozet's thirty-something post-mistress, Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen, has a tiger cat (Mrs. Murphy) and a Welsh Corgi (Tucker), a pending divorce, and a bad habit of reading postcards not addressed to her. When Crozet's citizens start turning up murdered, Harry remembers that each received a card with a tombstone on the front and the message "Wish you were here" on the back. Intent on protecting their human friend, Mrs. Murphy and Tucker begin to scent out clues. Meanwhile, Harry is conducting her own investigation, unaware her pets are one step ahead of her. If only Mrs. Murphy could alert her somehow, Harry could uncover the culprit before the murder occurs--and before Harry finds herself on the killer's mailing list.

Murder isn’t exclusive to big, crowded cities, as the residents of Crozet, Virginia are about to discover for their own. When the citizens of the small town start turning up dead, the local post mistress thinks the odd postcards they’d received just before their murders might be a clue. She’s soon off to the races, with the help of her tiger cat and Corgi. Will small town life in Virginia ever be the same?

Mary Minor “Harry” Harristeen is Crozet’s postmaster and keeper of Mrs. Murphy, a tiger cat, and Tee Tucker, a Welsh Corgi. Harry always seems to be at the center of everything that happens in Crozet, but not always because she wants it that way. The post office seems to be the hub of the community with the residents coming and going and arguing and fighting on her doorstep. More often than not, the chaos is brought to her, although she’s notorious for doing a bit of snooping on her own. I found Harry to be an enjoyable character. She’s smart and knows her town like no one else, which will eventually help her solve the mystery. She’s also an animal lover and treats her furry friends as if they were family members, something which really endeared her to me.

The real stars of this novel, however, are the furry P.I’s. Mrs. Murphy and Tee, along with assorted other four-legged Crozet inhabitants, gossip and sniff and help point the humans in the right direction. The relationship between Mrs. Murphy and her canine pal, Tee Tucker, is priceless. They interact in much the same way as two sisters might – not always a fan of the others, but always with love. The contact and introspection between the animals really made the story for me.

Wish You Were Here was an entertaining mystery chock full of laughs, surprises, and animal hijinks. The seriousness of the murders is tempered by the natural lightheartedness animals bring to anything. Between the never-ending parade of colorful characters, their pets, and the ongoing mystery, you’re sure to find yourself engaged to the very end.





Saturday, May 5, 2012

April Book of the Month Winner



The Visitor’s Room by E.H. James
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Mystery
Length: Short Story (10 pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe



Don’t go asking questions you don’t want to know the answer to, especially when you're on a psych ward, and even you begin to question your sanity.

If Amy thought this day on the psych ward would be just like any other she would be sadly mistaken. For although everything seemed normal, well as normal as a place like that could be, there was something that was not quite right. That she couldn’t put her finger on it only made it all the more perplexing. But the real question was, should you go asking questions you aren’t prepared to hear the answer to?


Read the full review here!