by Chris Collett
Published 9/29/17 by Joffe Books
①❷③④⑤ 2 of 5 stars
DI Tom Mariner investigates the death of investigative reporter Eddie Barham, an apparent suicide – except it’s not suicide. PC Tony Knox assists with the investigation. Witness to the death is Jamie, severely autistic, also sibling to Anna and the deceased. Anna Barham, sister of the victim, takes on the care of Jamie while trying to find why her brother was murdered.
Overall impression: The premise drew me in, and I enjoyed the twists and turns as the investigation progressed. The pace increases dramatically toward the conclusion.
What I like:
- The premise: the only one who could say what happened…can’t say what happened.
- The Brocken Spectre (you’ll have to read the book to see how it applies).
- Snappy observations are sprinkled through the book. My favorite is when Anna first meets DI Mariner, whose recent nose injury makes his speech sound a bit thick, and “Anna had to fight a bizarre urge to pinch her nose and respond in the same way.”
- Good opening sentence: the who and the what are identified, but not the back story which would have bogged down the opening.
- Short chapters. New info, red herrings, changes of perspective are all moved along very well in chapters that are quickly read. Also, the chapter endings are good: they made me want to turn the page right away and get to the next part.
What I don’t like:
- DI Mariner, Anna Barham, PC Knox
- Is this story a treatise on autism and medication, or a mystery? Difficult to tell. It’s labeled mystery.
- DI Mariner jumps to conclusions. How does a newspaper story that is “personal” to its author bend itself in Mariner’s mind to be about “personal services”?
- The story reads like it was hastily abridged: answers are sometimes announced before the evidence is introduced.
- Anna’s brother Eddie took care of Jamie for years. When Anna assumes care of Jamie, she starts from scratch learning his favorite foods, etc. Why didn’t she just check Eddie’s cupboards to see what he stocked for Jamie?
- Too much detail that doesn’t relate to the story. While the detail does establish the characters’ experience and mindset, the reader doesn’t need that much detail to get the picture.
Thank you to Joffe Books and NetGalley for an Advanced Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Far Away by Victoria Blake
Troubador Publishing Ltd / Matador
Genre: History, Fiction
Rating: * * *
Two soldiers captured in Africa in WWII meet in an Italian prison camp. Along the homeward journey, they write journals: one a memoir, the other a fairy tale. Interspersed with the soldiers’ story is the story of the soldiers’ grown children years later, unraveling the war experience they didn’t hear firsthand from their parents.
What I like about this story: I knew next to nothing about Italy or the Italians during WWII, and this book filled in some details.
Thank you to NetGalley and Troubador Publishing for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy
Advice and Confessions on Writing, Love, and Cannibals
by Dinty W. Moore
Ten Speed Press (c) 2015
Rating: * * * *
What a riot! The questions sent to Mister Essay Writer Guy are giggle-worthy, the responses are snort-worthy, and the essays that follow leave me laughing long after I’ve finished (re-)reading them.
In the vein of Ben Franklin’s infamous letter to his (former) friend Mr. Strahan which was signed,
You are now my enemy, –
And I am, –
This is the kind of book to pick up in a durable format, the better to stand up to frequent use.
Thank you to Ten Speed Press and NetGalley for the Advance Reader Copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
At Home in Last Chance (A Place to Call Home #3) by Cathleen Armstrong
Rating: * * * *
I love this book!
Kaitlyn has made her mistakes, but if you think you get to rub her nose in ’em, you got another think comin’. And then there’s feckless Steven, with a definite penchant for putting his foot in his mouth. I tut-tutted right along with Steven’s grandmother, watching Kaitlyn and Steven bump their way past the misunderstandings and ruffled feathers to a very satisfying ending.
I will definitely be adding this book to my collection. If you like this book, you may also enjoy The First Boy I Loved by Cheryl Reavis.
Thank you to Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the Advance Reader Copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
The Godforsaken Daughter by Christina McKenna
March 2015, Lake Union Publishing
Rating: * *
Nicely stitched together. Quite an unusual set of circumstances leads to the intersection between Ruby, Jamie, and Henry in a little town in Northern Ireland.
The incidental characters like the attorney who reads the will are so neatly drawn I can see them clearly in my minds eye.
The main characters have victim written all over them, which is the reason I rate the book 2 stars. The sundry side characters, however, are enormously entertaining and prevent the story from sliding into melancholy. Were they the main characters, I’d rate this 4 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
As the Crow Flies (DI Nick Dixon Book One) by Damien Boyd
Thomas & Mercer
Rating: * * *
Detective Inspector Nick Dixon suspects his former climbing partner’s death is not the accident it initially appears to be. Drawn into the investigation, he learns his friend had become involved in illegal activities with dangerous and unscrupulous associates. The body count rises as Dixon unravels the web of lies and cover-ups.
As the Crow Flies holds the interest and moves along quickly. The other investigations in the story – Dixon’s day job – are every bit as interesting as the climbing death investigation (perhaps more so). The ending plays out differently than I anticipated.
Thank you to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for the copy I received in exchange for a review.
Hello from the Gillespies by Monica McInerney
Release date: 11/04/14 by Penguin Group/Signet
Rating: * * * *
The truth shall set you free.
The Gillespies are not having a good year. Angela Gillespie avoids the usual sugarcoating in her annual Christmas missive, opting instead for flat truth. The resulting unintended consequences create a humorous, touching story.
We could all benefit from a friend as loyal and practical as Joan. Ig is a great kid, my favorite person throughout the story. Between the two of them, they fiercely shield Angela from the backlash of telling it like it is. Joan makes clear the expectation that each person (including Angela) will take responsibility for their own choices.
I was taken aback at the length of the book: it shouldn’t take 600+ pages to tell a story. However, I found the book easy to read, not necessarily a quick read but the story moves right along in a satisfying progression. I will look for more by this author.
Thank you to Penguin/Signet and NetGalley for the Advance Reader Copy I received in exchange for a review.
Guilt by Degrees (Rachel Knight #2) by Marcia Clark
Rating: * * *
What I like…The snark: Rachel and her ‘tude are a hoot. The dialogue is reasonably believable. The story moves right along and there’s always more than meets the eye, lots of twists and turns and realizations and re-examinations of the evidence.
What I don’t like…The length: the book is 450 pages. The constant name-dropping of L.A. restaurants/eateries/bars, expensive vodkas, etc. If the book were shorter and had fewer details about lunch and drink orders, I would rate it 4 stars.
The long and short of it…I enjoy the Rachel Knight series, at least books 1 and 2 (I haven’t read the others yet). The office politics in the district attorney’s office, as well as the interplay between the police and the D.A.’s office, make for good reading, especially when enlivened by Knight’s brand of sarcastic wit.
Thank you to Mulholland Books and NetGalley for the copy I received in exchange for a review.
Among Friends: Stories from the Journey by Father Jim Sichko
Published 2014 by Premier Digital Publishing
Rating: * * * *
You’ve gotta love a book written by a priest with help from a horror-fiction writer and an art thief turned life coach. Which is its own endorsement of the book: it just goes to show that inspiration is available from the most unlikely sources if we just take care to recognize it.
Among Friends is a collection of tidbits and humorous stories demonstrating the practical application of aphorisms like Little things matter. Bloom where you are planted. Notice someone. The trickle down effect. Sometimes it’s a winding road. Aha! moments strike when least expected. Which leads us back to the author and his friends, who recognized aha! when they saw it.
Thank you to Premier Digital Publishing and NetGalley for the copy I received in exchange for a review.
Man from the Sky: a Novella by Danny Wynn
- Publisher: Bacon Press Books
- Publication date: 1/31/2014
- Pages: 140
Rating: * * *
This is a breezy little story starring wealthy, comfortably self-centered old Jaime, who passively longs for a Grand Adventure even as he languishes in discontent with his idyllic lifestyle. Lo and behold, a Grand Adventure lands right in his path in the form of Stefan parachuting in. Unencumbered by a sense of irony, Jaime merrily assists Stefan in making a fresh start in life.
I rather enjoy the blitheness with which Jaime and Stefan float through their days.
Thank you to Bacon Press Books and NetGalley for the copy I received in exchange for a review.