Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Bridesmaids Revisited Review

Have you ever read Dorothy Cannell? If not,  you should really add her to your list of must reads. She's never failed to entertain me and make me laugh.

In this “entertaining gothic tale” (Chicago Sun-Times) that “reads like Wuthering Heights on steroids” (Publishers Weekly), amateur sleuth Ellie Haskell gets caught up in the drama of a trio of ancient spinsters—and the ghosts of murder past.

 
“Rosemary, Thora, and Jane lived at the end of the lane, one was thin, one was fat, and one was very plain.” This is how Ellie Haskell remembers her grandmother’s three childhood friends, known collectively as “the bridesmaids.” Ellie once asked her mother where the nickname came from and her mother replied, “It’s a long story, best forgotten.” After all, every family has its secrets.

Now, thirty years later, a letter from the bridesmaids arrives informing Ellie that her grandmother, Sophia, wishes to make contact. This might have been heartwarming news but for one small detail: Sophia is dead. Ellie sets out to visit the bridesmaids, expecting to set the record straight. What she gets is a life-changing journey into the unknown, from a séance and a hidden diary to a mysterious death that took place more than fifty years ago. (Synopsis from Amazon)


I discovered Dorothy Cannell and her creation, Ellie Haskell, years ago with The Thin Woman and was immediately hooked. Quirky characters, a touch of Ellie’s favorite gothic novels, humor, wit, and splendid puzzles rank them right at the top of my list beside Amelia Peabody. Simply reading the titles makes me smile.
In BRIDESMAIDS REVISITED (ha J), Ellie and Ms. Malloy are on their lonesome at Merlin’s Court. Ben has thoughtfully taken the children to a new type of family vacation resort, Memory Lane. They’re springing up all over and this was the brainchild of their vicar’s wife. Ellie, during her time alone, is meant to be decorating little Rose’s room.  She doesn’t even get into the room before she receives a letter from the past. Friends of her long gone grandmother, Sophia, have written to Ellie asking her to come visit the Old Rectory. Ellie remembers these older ladies from a childhood visit with her mother, Mina, who referred to them as The Bridesmaids. Despite her misgivings, Ellie heads off with Ms. Malloy aka Roxy, who’s on the run from Leonard, a husband who went out for stew beef and never returned. He’s turned up all these years later like a bad penny, and Ms. Malloy fears she’ll be too weak to resist his charms should she be left alone.

What a hoot. In these days of dark leaning reads, regardless of genre, Ellie and crew are just the ticket to lighten up your day, and reading. With nods to past gothic classics Ellie and Ms. Malloy are off and running in their new adventure. While readers may figure out who, there’re always many layers to Ellie’s mysteries that often defy the reader to identify each and every one. That’s part of the charm of Ellie, Ben, Ms. Malloy, and Freddy. While it may seem simple on the surface, it never really is. BRIDESMAIDS REVISITED is no exception. Long on clues, misdirection’s, idiosyncratic characters, and the icy fingers of a past mystery that reaches into the future, I wasn’t disappointed. I laughed and puzzled my way along with Ellie to try and prevent more death and havoc. With a devilish twist at the end, BRIDESMAIDS REVISITED was all I’d hoped and then some.
Full of hijinks, eccentric characters, and inventive plots that dovetail sweetly at the end, the Ellie Haskell books are bound to become favorites you’ll turn to time and again.

4.5 stars


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Parker Sinclair featuring EVE OF THE EXCEPTIONALS

As promised, EVE OF THE EXCEPTIONALS, a stand-alone YA Epic Fantasy novel.

When fate brings the young Prince Ryzyn and the rover girl Gem together, not only do their lives become forever entwined, their meeting also ignites the power within an ancient object—the Heart of Cyan.

With the mystical Heart discovered, the wielder must prepare for an epic battle against a vicious, pervasive darkness that threatens all of Parlethis. Magical forces unite for the good of the land, but will that be enough to stop the Shadowland creatures from destroying them all?

Join the incredible journey full of magical beings, terrifying and majestic creatures, and the two young hearts destined to save a kingdom.

One lucky commenter will win a digital copy of EVE OF THE EXCEPTIONALS.  Just tell me why you think most fantasy has a medieval feel/look. Good luck!

Website     Facebook   Instagram     Twitter      Amazon
Parker Sinclair gives credit to the development of her imagination and passion for writing to multiple childhood destinations lacking indoor plumbing. While attending college, Ms. Sinclair studied biological sciences and psychology, specifically animal behavior, but her love has forever been to write. Since 2007, Ms. Sinclair has called Virginia Beach home where she is a licensed professional school counselor and a full-time writer, and finds time to write late into the night after her kiddos and in many cases, her husband are fast asleep.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Introducing Parker Sinclair

I'm trying something new. At least once a month there will be a feature on a particular author's work. They'll come from different genres & will span over a period of at least 2 days. Some I'll have read, so those will have reviews, and others will be new to me, though perhaps not new to you. Let's explore together& please let me know what you think.
Kicking off this new series is Parker Sinclair. Below are the trailers of her first Urban Fantasy series, THE ALEX CONNER CHRONICLES:
TRUST, TRUTH, & the novella FORBIDDEN.
Tune in tomorrow for a look at her new YA Epic Fantasy, EVE OF THE EXCEPTIONALS. There may even be a surprise for you if you do.  :)

 

Website     Facebook   Instagram     Twitter      Amazon
Parker Sinclair gives credit to the development of her imagination and passion for writing to multiple childhood destinations lacking indoor plumbing. While attending college, Ms. Sinclair studied biological sciences and psychology, specifically animal behavior, but her love has forever been to write. Since 2007, Ms. Sinclair has called Virginia Beach home where she is a licensed professional school counselor and a full-time writer, and finds time to write late into the night after her kiddos and in many cases, her husband are fast asleep.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What's New? BUNYAN'S GUIDE to the GREAT AMERICAN WILDLIFE



 Bunyan’s Guide to the Great American Wildlife by Quentin Canterel What happens when the Manhattan zoo empties its cages? John, part radicalized anarchist, part ticking time bomb, is haunted by a particular story, that of Willow, a 9-year old mute who flees to New York after her brutal rape. The only way his girlfriend, Felicity, can stop the clock counting down is by disentangling the riddle of their pasts, before their entwined futures are blown to pieces.
Quentin Canterel’s second novel presents a collage of voices, dead and alive, in a unique and unnerving novel that experiments with form, structure and language. Truly a mystery shrouded in an enigma.





Oh, muses, what shall we say about Felicity: Church of England, slender, little beanpole, waxy pallor of a holy relic, blush of a broken rose, cupid bow lips, preternatural and possibly, yes probably, possessed. And you, John, black raven-haired, androgynous locks, the faintest of crow’s feet, fashionably skinny and, for a man, certainly heteroclite. Thin voice and long fingers, slender lips always a snide remark away from disaster. “U ARE A SHITHEAD” In those days (really the cigarette butts of nights snuffed out at 2 or 3a.m), your daily toil up Hill Lucre began at six crossing paths in the Financial District with By-ends and that unrestful gaggle of carbon suited I-bankers. In the fogs and snows of February, the city was given over to grisaille. Always late, you hopped on the R line. Arriving, at Rector Street, only to be met by “that Basilisk”, your boss, the abdominous Mr Skill. For months, you toiled in that “slick glass dick”, temping for $14.50 an hour. What prosperity! “These shitheads are virtually throwing money out the windows. Bankers paying me for next to nothing.” It was then, while collecting rejection slips from small magazines, that you began The Guide. In between fits of all-nighters, you’d invite me round and we became a threesome, united by a common hatred of clubs, house music, and nouvelle French cafes. Building, by fits and starts, our own little mutual admiration society… I remember us once being stuck uptown at an illegal rave, the Russians and Israelites taking turns spinning their trance, the base tones detonating like little depth charges through the low hum of gas generators. We swayed in the summer heat and leaned against a tree stump as a police boat cast its fiery eye through the surrounding trees, setting each branch aflame. You somehow managed to share a bitter pill of ecstasy with that tenderest of Felicities so that the world nudged against you like purest organza silk.


About the author: Born in and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Quentin Canterel grew up never far away from stream, glade or wood. Quentin went on to study at Yale University, ultimately graduating with a Bachelor’s degree. Pursuing a career in New York, he wrote for journals such as Fortune magazine and also embarked on a career in quantitative research and programming. Moving to London in 2005, he continued his graduate studies at the University of London. He currently resides in London with his wife.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

THE RIVER AT NIGHT w/ Print giveaway


I'm not the type of woman who's inclined to go white water rafting or any such adventure type trip. In the past, yes, but not anymore.
However, thought y'all might be interested in THE RIVER AT NIGHT which tells the story of just such an adventure trip a group of friends go on......
Alexa is offering a print giveaway (Sorry, due to shipping, U.S. only) to one lucky commenter.
 
Question: If you had the chance to go on such a trip, would you? Why or why not? Winner will be chosen at random Sunday, 1-22-17. Please leave your email in your comment so you can be contacted if you win. Good Luck y'all!

Winifred Allen needs a vacation.

Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings.

What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare: A freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test. To survive, Wini must reach beyond the world she knows to harness an inner strength she never knew she possessed.

With intimately observed characters, visceral prose, and pacing as ruthless as the river itself, The River at Night is a dark exploration of creatures—both friend and foe—that you won’t soon forget.
Amazon     B&N       Simon & Schuster

Erica Ferencik is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Boston University. Her work has appeared in Salon and The Boston Globe, as well as on National Public Radio. Find out more on her website EricaFerencik.com and follow her on Twitter @EricaFerencik.

(Photograph by Kate Hannon)



Sunday, December 25, 2016

IQ Review

If you're looking for your next contemporary mystery/detective read, give IQ a go. Truly don't think you'll be sorry you did.


A resident of one of LA's toughest neighborhoods uses his blistering intellect to solve the crimes the LAPD ignores.

East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the neighborhood's high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, lost children unrecovered. But someone from the neighborhood has taken it upon himself to help solve the cases the police can't or won't touch.

They call him IQ. He's a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence. He charges his clients whatever they can afford, which might be a set of tires or a homemade casserole. To get by, he's forced to take on clients that can pay.

This time, it's a rap mogul whose life is in danger. As Isaiah investigates, he encounters a vengeful ex-wife, a crew of notorious cutthroats, a monstrous attack dog, and a hit man who even other hit men say is a lunatic. The deeper Isaiah digs, the more far reaching and dangerous the case becomes. (Synopsis from Amazon)



IQ does exactly what good fiction is supposed to do; engages and takes you away, allowing you to experience, vicariously, a culture and events you likely never could otherwise. In the meantime, you’re meeting memorable characters who invoke an array of emotions.
A good portion of Isaiah’s appeal for me, apart from his formidable mental processes, are his choices and the reasoning behind them. Isaiah, after some missteps, is becoming a man his brother, Marcus, would be proud of.  He’s rising above and taking the high road, difficult though it is at times, and influencing those around him.
Isaiah reminds me of Edward Woodward from the ‘80s television show, The Equalizer. Isaiah is The Equalizer, but with his own unique weaponry. Eccentric, misunderstood by most around him and driven. Isaiah Quintabe aka IQ is one of the most engrossing characters I’ve encountered in quite a while, and I can barely wait to join him on his next case.

5 stars

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

THE *&#% IT LIST Review and giveaway

Face it, life is short and who has time to see 1000 places, read 1000 more "classics" or see 1000 movies somebody else deems essential, and all that nonsense? Here is a list of 101 things you should never bother with from the fiendishly clever mind of Kevin Pryslak. The F*ck It List is a hilarious middle-finger salute to all those absurd life goals that will ensure an anxiety-filled middle age will be followed by shame-filled golden years. It pokes a sorely needed pin into a bloated rite of passage that's ripe for deflation. Do you really need to firewalk or didn't Oprah and Tony Robbins take care of that for us? Swimming with sharks is a really dumb idea, so let's leave that with the gullible reality tv desperadoes, shall we? Kevin Pryslak has come up with a "to don't list" that will have you laughing out loud and leave you with lots more time to do the all the things YOU really want to do! (synopsis from Amazon)
  Chapters include:
  • I’m not going to a nudist colony
  • I’m not going to become a millionaire
  • I’m not getting a coffee enema
  • I’m not getting back in shape
  • I’m not going to start a band
  • I’m not walking the Great Wall of China
  • I’m not going to run for public office
  • I’m not going to quit work
Want a chance to win a copy of THE *&%@ IT LIST? Go here and tell us how you feel about Bucket Lists. Winner will be drawn at random sometime during Christmas Eve night.

My thoughts.........
Pithy and humorous were the first words that sprang to mind while reading this fun lil book.
Why do we do these things to ourselves? Bucket Lists are self-induced lil stress lists. I’m all for going for what you want, bettering yourself, being adventurous and what not, but often these lists are filled with things there’s not a snowball’s chance of achieving, doing, etc…Hang that.
While being laugh inducing THE *$%# LIST also makes a valid point: Live in today, the now. Take advantage of what’s in front of you, available to you. Don’t waste valuable time pining for the unattainable or some lofty future goal. The life best lived is one that’s lived for the day, making the most of the now.

THE %#$& IT LIST does what humor often does best, entertains and teaches (even if not always intentionally). The laughter makes the lesson palatable and the brevity makes it easy to carry along and read whenever you have two minutes to rub together.
Enjoy, and start your own $#&* List…J

3.5 stars


Kevin Pryslak maintains his existence in Brooklyn, NY. When he's not writing about things that suck, you can find him reviewing delivery dumplings, playing with his two rescue dogs, Stevey and Gilligan, organizing his socks by color and length.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A STUDY IN SCARLET WOMEN Review

Are you a Sherlock Holmes fan? Do some of the books, movies, and TV shows inspired or crafted around and on his character make you cringe? A STUDY IN SCARLET WOMEN didn't bring about that reaction in me and, fingers crossed, won't do so in you. Enjoyable and entertaining enough to have me looking forward to the follow up. If you've read it, feel free to comment. Always up for discussing books! Y'all have a lovely weekend.

 

With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London. 
 
When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her.

But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind. (Synopsis from Amazon)

A STUDY IN SCARLET WOMEN is the promising start to a clever twist on the Sherlock Holmes character.
As a staunch Holmes fan, there are places I simply can’t go with Holmes inspired books, movies, and TV shows. The new PBS Sherlock works for me because it’s been updated, placing Holmes in modern settings and doesn’t attempt to compete with what I consider the quintessential Holmes portrayal by Jeremy Brett. The books work when they don’t, per say, focus on Holmes or make him something he wasn’t meant to be. Michael Kurland’s “Moriarty” series and Quinn Fawcett’s “Mycroft Holmes” series springs to mind. Two excellent Holmes inspired series.
Ms. Thomas’ take on Holmes keeps the essential elements that make Sherlock such an enduring and compelling character, while adding her own thoughtful and well played gender twist on both Holmes and Watson.
Charlotte Holmes’ looks belie the brain behind them. The effort she has to make to be socially acceptable with her family and society at large add depth and authenticity to her character. While her brain is superlative, some of her actions and conclusions reveal her naivete. This is where the Mrs. Watson’s character comes into play. As a member of the demimonde she possesses the worldly knowledge Charlotte lacks as well as moving on the fringes of the same social circles without being as stifled by the societal strictures of the time.
Granted, there were a few issues typical to first books in a series, but they were minor and not enough to putt me off. The biggest question I have is, “how long will they be able to pull off the charade?”
A STUDY IN SCARLET WOMEN struck me as inventive and fresh feeling; truly enjoyable, entertaining, and fun. I’m sincerely looking forward to the follow-up.
4 stars


Monday, November 28, 2016

Thomas Jay Berger, MD – Dueling in Death’s Backyard- Creating Dr. Cooper Logan

I’m often asked how much of myself can be found in my protagonist, Dr. Cooper Logan. I attended Tufts College and med-school, in Boston, just like Cooper Logan. In the seventies, I trained with Dr. John Kirklin, in Birmingham, Alabama. Cooper was a resident there with Dr. Joseph Kirkwood. We each achieved our mutual dream of becoming a cardiac surgeon. But Cooper is not me and I am not Cooper Logan. I had two loving parents and was a fairly decent wrestler. Cooper came from a broken home and won a wrestling scholarship. Cooper is a fictional character. I’m pretty sure I’m real. 

My residency was exactly like Cooper’s. Its rigors are meticulously and correctly described in the book and the OR action is accurate. Every case except one is based on a real patient. Nowadays, residents are often unionized and coddled with care taken to avoid damaging their delicate egos. In my day, the only right a resident had was the right to sweat. That’s the way it should be. If you’re not willing to go through total immersion in patient care, you should not be trusted with the lives of other human beings.

Cooper and I both chose heart surgery because we wanted the challenge of being forced to do demanding work skillfully, thoughtfully and gracefully even with the Grim Reaper’s icy breath on the backs of our necks. When Cooper finds himself on the wrong end of a .357 magnum wielded by his arch enemy who happens to be stark barking insane, he is able to stay calm, think and function effectively because he is used to working with life or death in the balance. In the OR, it’s his patient’s life at stake. In the gunfight, it’s Cooper’s life at stake. Cooper is surprised to find how little difference that makes.

There is some of me in my character. That’s what makes him so real. It’s what makes his experiences seem so real.


DUELING IN DEATH’S BACKYARD is an intensely, fast-paced medical thriller written by retired cardiac surgeon Thomas Jay Berger, MD who is the winner of a Faulkner award for writing.


Exposing a scandal at the VA hospital was Dr. Cooper Logan’s responsibility, and his first mistake. The world was background noise as Cooper worked to save lives. He’d won his scholarship wrestling and struggling with Death in the operating room was his new passion. But, hospital politics wasn’t Cooper's strong point and learning them the hard way cost him his residency. Then, to make matters even worse, the druggy nurse Cooper had exposed, turns up dead and Cooper is framed for the murder. Now Cooper must duel with death outside the OR and this time it's his own life that's at stake.

And the danger he faced now had Death staring him in the face.

About the Author:

Retired from active surgical practice due to vision problems, my wife and I bought a 50 ft. sailboat and sold or gave away everything that wouldn’t fit on board. We spent about 8 years sailing all around the Caribbean. Three years ago we settled in Miami, where we each have moms in their nineties who need us to be close by. Other than my medmal expert business, I box twice a week, pump iron twice a week and try to get to the shooting range whenever I can. If one is going write thrillers with action scenes including fist and gunfights, one should have a clue how to actually do these things. A famous medical thriller writer (who shall not be named) once wrote a gunfight scene where a revolver did not fire because the safety was on. He apparently knew absolutely nothing about firearms – not even the basic fact that revolvers do not have safeties. Fistfight scenes by meek or sedentary authors are often even worse – describing techniques that would never work in real life. I am proud of my OR scenes, which no one but me could ever write. But I am also proud of the of action scenes which my own knowledge experience and constant training allow me to portray realistically.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

RACE THE DARKNESS

Paranaormals haven't been high on my list lately, but RACE THE DARKNESS also has a mystery and that, along with the blurb and cover, are what drew me. Xander's eyes put me in mind of huskies with those spooky ice blue eyes.
What have y'all been reading lately? Looking forward to the holidays? Work load permitting I may have a go at my shelves and hold a giveaway. Please let me know if any of you would be interested in a "gently read" book giveaway.

I found an amazing yarn sale at a craft outlet store here so I'll be in my chair, crocheting this weekend. What are y'all going to try to do this weekend?



There's not a lot that's new in Abbie Roads', RACE THE DARKNESS:
-Dream walking
-Precognition
-Hearing the thoughts of others, though there is an interesting spin on Xander's condition with the lightning and scars.
-Soul mates but she does explain it with an interesting Native American legend.

What set RACE THE DARKNESS apart for me was Ms. Roads' voice; dark, highly descriptive (maybe a tad too much so at times), in your face, and unapologetically blunt. Not once while reading did another author come to mind as often happens. That's a good thing for me.
This is also a description of Xander. Yes, he's an ass, admits it freely, and hasn't a single issue with that. If you do, that's your problem not his. He's a wonderful anti-hero, and I was drawn to him immediately.
Isleen pales in comparison. For the most part she came across as milksoppish with only an occasion or two where she displays any real backbone. What she manages to survive is horrific, and you know there's some steel and gumption somewhere, but where? Maybe it gives Xander an opportunity to display his "softer, gentler" side. Maybe it's to emphasize the effect of their binding.
Personally speaking, despite all she goes through, she was a bit insipid.
My other issue was Gale. Her reasoning was beyond me. I just didn't get her or the why behind her actions.
Those two issues aside, RACE THE DARKNESS brings readers some exciting new characters and a bold new voice that, love it or hate, is bound to get your attention.

4 stars