Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Bloggers need to read this mystery novel ASAP. It's about a small group of bloggers who have had breast cancer. Each of them, after diagnosis, had felt terribly alone even though family and friends tried to help them. They turned to blogging and found friends who understood because it was their story too.
Then Meredith Heywood, the woman they all thought of as their sort of mother hen, dies suddenly. Everyone assumes it was cancer even though she hadn't yet confided in all of them that her cancer had returned and was terminal. Soon it is revealed that she was murdered. They all knew she would be alone that night because she blogged about it, along with possibly too many other details about her life. Could she have been killed by one of them?
We get to know each woman in the group, partly through excerpts from her blog. Most don't tell much about their real identity but now they worry about it even as they decide to attend her funeral. Only one, Jaycee, who hasn't really bonded that well anyway, declines to meet up with them. She does actually show up but they don't know what she looks like and she doesn't introduce herself. I kept suspecting one, then another, then another. Actually I didn't feel confident who the killer was until the end. Then of course it made perfect sense.
Anyone who blogs and has found a community of like-minded people who feel like close friends will understand the feelings of these women. And we all have those qualms occasionally about how much of ourselves we're revealing to the world. In my community of book bloggers most of us are quite open about our lives and I don't think that will change because of this book, but it does give me pause. Any intelligent person is aware that the internet can be a dangerous world. However, the friendships we have made within that community have been a blessing to us.
I also felt empathy and sometimes impatience with these characters because I too have cancer. I know how alone you can feel and that support groups are not the answer for everyone, so I was happy that blogging helped them as much as my online friends have helped me. Obviously, this story has more than one level as well as more than one suspect. I am so glad I read it and want all of my friends to read it too.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
I have no idea what inspired me to order this ebook unless it was that I was thinking I should try different genres. It involves a heroine who slips through time. One second she's a graduate student at present day Exeter University in England, the next she's in the same place but inhabiting the person of a governess in 1846. The thing is - I really liked this story.
The characters won me over, especially the heroine, Meredith Blake. She's an American who comes to Exeter on a scholarship to study 18th century English fiction. She makes friends with another student from New Zealand and a young man from Australia, and meets her tutor, Peter Graham. Most of all she's enthralled with Edwards Hall which is a manor house that has been converted into a dorm. The food there is awful and thin walls make the noise bothersome, but the house itself fascinates her.
As she learns about the house and the people who lived in it as a family she has visions of a governess, a child, and the child's father. Then she goes back in time to when there will be a mysterious death. What if she interferes to try to stop that death? Will that change the present?
I liked the inclusion of the customs and ceremonies of student life and something about the architecture of the university buildings. At this time of year despite my advanced age I still wish I was heading back to school. I'm one of those people who could easily have been a professional student if the need to earn a living hadn't kept rearing its ugly head.
This is a good book for readers who love to read about time travel, and maybe not so much for those who don't, but I repeat: I liked it.
Source: Open Road Media via NetGalley
Monday, August 18, 2014
A few months ago I reviewed Christopher Meeks' earlier book called Blood Drama. It was a great little book about a guy who gets taken hostage by a group of bank robbers and then solves the case. It was funny and clever and I liked it a lot.
Now I've just finished another Meeks' book, A Death in Vegas, which again is a great little book about an innocent middle-aged guy who is unable to leave things to the police, only this time he is the prime suspect in a murder. I kept losing patience with Patton Burch (named after his mother's favorite general) but no way could I put the book down until I figured out who really killed Chatterly. She was living under an assumed name (no one could really be named Chatterly after all) and working as a trade show model for Burch's company booth. The company is BenBugs, provider of beneficial bugs for organic gardeners, and Chatterly was dressed as a ladybug as she attracted people to the booth.
Meanwhile, Burch's marriage seems to be falling apart and he is clueless as to why. He loves his wife dearly and doesn't want to lose her. That's one reason it is such a terrible dilemma when Chatterly dies in his hotel room. As the police close in on Burch, he runs and once again our hero attempts to solve the murder himself.
Will he figure out who murdered Chatterly, who she really was, and why she was hiding? Will Burch save his marriage? Or, will the FBI catch Patton Burch and lock him up? It's all great fun with lots of side issues to lead you down the garden path to an erroneous conclusion.
Source: Partners in Crime Book Tours
Saturday, August 16, 2014
If you have somehow never read one of Charles Todd's Bess Crawford series, you are missing out on a real treat. Bess is one of those heroines that I just immediately loved and rooted for even though occasionally wanting to scold her for taking risks.
She is a British nurse in World War I and she spends much of her time in France near the front lines. This is a military service in which the women are held to a higher standard of conduct than civilian women. They have a uniform and are subject to orders just like soldiers. Since it is early in the 20th century, women still lead restricted lives anyway, but the nurses represent England and as such need to remain above reproach. How Bess manages to solve murders in that sort of climate is largely due to her father's assistant Simon Brandon. Her father is apparently in military intelligence.
In this story Bess is assigned to accompany a wounded officer to Buckingham Palace where he is presented a medal by the king. She is responsible for him until an orderly picks him up at the hotel the next morning to return him to the rehabilitation hospital. She can't remain in his room overnight of course, but when she checks on him in the morning he has disappeared. Then she hears of a sighting of him at a bridge where a man is murdered. She is in big trouble; in fact she's in danger of being thrown out of the nursing service. Obviously this calls for an investigation and when Simon gets wind of it, he comes to help.
The story becomes more and more mysterious until it seems like they are following several soldiers on the run. I loved trying to work out the plot and wasn't disappointed at the end. Meanwhile, I learned about the care of wounded men in France and England, and how ordinary people lived in the countryside during that war.
One character in this book stands out. A man called Maddie cares for all the people in several villages in England. He seems a competent doctor but doesn't claim to be one and Bess is mystified by him. He lives alone very simply. What is his story?
I haven't read all the books in this series but I hope to eventually.
Monday, August 11, 2014
This is a fun little story about a young woman who owns a yoga studio, a homeless man, and a lovable but out of control German Shepherd. I even learned a bit about yoga along the way.
Kate Davidson is single, perhaps commitment-phobic, but concentrating on making a success of her business. Money is tight even though she has steady clients, good classes, and a team of part-time teachers. Then a problem shows up. George is a homeless man who sells a local paper called Dollars for Change and he's okay but his dog is a different matter. Bella goes ballistic at the sight of another dog, and she also hates men with beards. As Kate's yoga students are leaving class, Bella sees a tiny dog with one of them and the uproar brings Kate running out of the building to see what's wrong.
They find a solution for Bella and Kate actually makes friends with George, but then one day she finds him murdered in the parking lot. The police assume it was due to a drunken brawl but Kate knows better and sets out to find the murderer. Well, of course she gets herself in all kinds of trouble and misunderstandings. It's one of those stories where you are either laughing or saying, "Kate, you idiot. Don't do that!"
Her best friend, newly married, is determined to find a boyfriend for Kate which only adds to the fun. When you need a lighthearted quick read, and who doesn't occasionally, this is guaranteed to cheer you up. The characters are quirky, the plot is a good one, Kate is a heroine you'll love, and any dog lover will be captivated by Bella.
Source: Partners in Crime Book Tours
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Once again Marcia Clark has written a timely and worthwhile novel about ADA Rachel Knight and her friends. This one begins with a school shooting in which the body count outdoes Columbine or Sandy Hook, so be forewarned that this could be too hard for you personally to take. On the other hand, Knight and Bailey Keller, her investigator, consult frequently with psychiatrists as they try to stop the killers so there is much in this well worth your time to think about.
At first it seems the two shooters have committed suicide in the library trying to copy the Columbine shooters, but early on the police realize the bodies are not the shooters. They have somehow gotten away. They seem to be in competition with Columbine and Sandy Hook, possibly even the Aurora theater shooting. They obviously try to kill more people and escape to kill again. This unleashes a reign of terror with the media hot on the heels of the authorities who want to keep the most frightening facts quiet.
The plot is an exercise in frustration, particularly for Knight and Keller. They want desperately to stop the killers before they kill again, but not only do they not know where the shooters are, they aren't absolutely sure who they are.
I did appreciate the fact that Knight doesn't obsess so much about food and her privacy as she did in previous stories. She has enough to worry about with the case. Thankfully she also has her relationship with Graden on an even keel. Nice to have everyone happy in love while the plot takes center stage.
I have one little quibble about this series of four Rachel Knight books and that is the covers. Whoever chose the covers certainly didn't do Marcia Clark any favors. If I had been shopping in a book store, I wouldn't have selected these books simply because of the cover art which strikes me as cheapening the books. As it was, I took advantage of a deal on Netgalley and didn't even look at the covers until after I had received them.
Saturday, August 2, 2014
Before you ask, yes this author is from "that" Biddle family in Philadelphia. The family may be known mainly for finances and the Main Line, but Cordelia Biddle is an admirable historian and writer. Even if The Conjurer wasn't such a great story, it would be worth reading for its setting in Philadelphia in 1842.
From the very beginning the reader is in the middle of a mysterious disappearance. Two dogs wait faithfully beside the flooding Schuylkill River as it roars past carrying debris as large as trees. It is cold and the dogs shiver but refuse to leave the point where they last saw their master, Lemuel Beale. At the Beale mansion his 26 year old daughter Martha and his private secretary Owen Simms await his arrival for a meal.
The most interesting part of the book, and the most maddening to modern women, is the restricted life of the upper class woman contrasted with the hopeless life of the poor and/or black woman. You will be shocked at the fact of 11 year old prostitutes, many of whom had been sold by their fathers, and equally shocked at the way wealthy women lived, or rather existed. They had no say whatsoever in any aspect of their lives and had to obey strict rules of conduct and dress.
I was fascinated also by such historical tidbits as the story of Eastern State Penitentiary which is open to tourists now. Absolute silence was the rule. The men had an indoor cell and an outdoor one, but women only had indoor cells because they were thought to need protection from fresh air and weather. The stench in the place was terrible, partly due to sewage back-up during floods.
There is also the story of The Association for the Care of Colored Orphans created by some of the wealthy women of Philadelphia. They took in 60 orphans at a time and gave them clean quarters, basic education, and good food, but no toys.
The one objection I have to the book is that the solution to the several mysteries comes a little too abruptly as does transformation in major characters. This is a minor quibble though in an otherwise excellent novel.
Highly recommended ebook
Source: Open Road Media/Netgalley