Designs on Ivy’s Locket by Connie Chappell (#2 Wrenn Grayson)

Designs on Ivy's Locket (Wrenn Grayson Mysteries, #2)

Designs on Ivy’s Locket

 Published: November 2017 by Black Rose Writing

3.5 stars

 

Previous Book in the Series: #1 –  Deadly Homecoming at Rosemont

The Designs on Ivy’s Locket by Connie Chappell is the 2nd in the Wren Grayson Mystery Series.

First, let me thank the publisher Black Rose Writing, and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Series Background:
Wrenn Grayson is a busy lady, holding down three jobs in the small town of Havens, Ohio. She works for Mayor KC Tallmadge part-time. She also writes historical articles for the newspaper. However, the main thing that keeps her busy is being a Historian-for-hire. She tends to stick her nose into everybody’s business, so she often finds herself in some rather strange predicaments. Wrenn lives in a small cottage with her partner Gideon, who is a History Professor at the local university.

My Synopsis:
While the Mayor is away for a short time, Wrenn has time to take on the case of Kerry St. John, who wants her to find the ghost town of Wyatt, Ohio. Well, that was easy enough, but now he wants her to find out what really happened to the locket that his jeweller great-grandfather created for a soon-to-be daughter (who turned out to be a boy). Ivy’s locket, as it was called, was stolen in 1946 in Wyatt, and has ended up in the possession of Lori Hammond of New York, who refuses to give it up. Kerry insists it was stolen, and the journal his great-grandfather wrote seems to prove it. Since it’s worth about $75,000, neither party wants to give it up. While the original players in this mystery are now dead, their children and grand-children are alive, and someone knows something.

To make matters worse, both Kerry and Lori seem to have rather short fuses, and Wrenn finds herself trying to mediate.

Wrenn finds that solving this mystery may not be as easy as it seems, and a third party may be involved.

My Opinions:
Connie Chappell has created a rather loveable character in Wrenn, and her plots are always interesting. This book seems to have a lot to do with family, and we learn more about Wrenn’s past as well.

Chappell’s writing is clear, and although I generally like more excitement in my books, these books are a fast, easy read…if a little too detailed at times. Again, I really like her characters, their thoughts and actions seem real, and the plot always has a twist or two to keep you interested.

Read: July 2018

Favorite Quotes from Designs on Ivy’s Locket:

“So, you’re spending your time with a woman who requires daily psychological intervention to remain rational, a man who the police eagerly detained for assault, the two of them are bitter enemies, and at stake is a seventy-five-thousand-dollar locket—which is a pretty good motive in my mind.”

“A person, any person, shouldn’t just be remembered by the worst thing he or she ever did.”

 

Connie Chappell

About the Author: Connie Chappell is a bestselling author of both literary fiction and the Wrenn Grayson Mysteries series.  Her website is great, where she created maps of her fictional town of Havens.  Now retired, when she isn’t writing, Connie spends her times out-doors whenever possible, gardening, golfing, walking, bicycling.

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Meniere’s and a Cold

Okay,  it’s been a while since I’ve mentioned my Meniere’s Disease, but I have the cold from hell, and  I am about to whine.  Feel free to move on to other blogs.  I’m also probably going to get into a few graphic details that no one really needs to know about, so you should probably just stop reading now.  It is enough for me to get this off my chest (since everything else is sitting on it right now).

Everyone knows that if you already have an “ailment” or two, adding something else to the mix is never good.  Like adding vinegar to your hot chocolate – not really wanted.  Like adding a cold to Meniere’s — never wanted.

A cold should just be a cold.  But after two weeks, when you are still coughing up phlegm (sometimes throwing up), you are wearing incontinence pads because your little drops have turned into gushes,  your ears are so plugged you consider borrowing your husbands hearing aids (or his drill), your cough is waking up the neighbours dogs, your back aches because you can’t lay down to sleep without coughing up a lung, brain fog has turned to smog, and your dizziness threatens to turn into vertigo at any moment, it’s time to go to the doctor.

Of course, that is when I find out he is on holidays.   Not that it matters, since he’s relatively new to me anyway, but you know, when you are feeling down, it’s just one more thing to complain about.  I chose to go see his replacement.   Then I worried about spreading whatever I had, or being made to stand outside while my coughing fit scared away the pedestrians and other patients. As it turns out, I should just go sit in a doctor’s office for 45 minutes.  Not a peep from my cough.  The doctor, when finally seen, was great, even knew what Meniere’s was (although all she said was “I bet this is making your symptoms worse”.  No shit!  Anyway, she prescribed antibiotics, an inhaler, and told me if I wasn’t a lot better in 48 hours, to make an appointment with my own doctor next week.  I could have kissed her.  I was going to get better – in only 48 hours!  I may have only heard what I wanted to hear.

Moving on.  Why do I read the warning labels on drugs???  Both may cause stomach upset…which was already not good from all the dizziness, the painkillers, the cough candies, and the cough syrup which I had tried.  Then the kicker….both read “may cause dizziness”.  Why the hell would a doctor give me something that is going to worsen an already existing condition???  I don’t even know what to say about that.  And that inhaler….I always have a coughing fit after using it – nobody mentioned that!  Hard coughing with Meniere’s is always a dizziness inducer for me….now it’s a spins inducer. Not pleasant.

But it doesn’t matter, it’s now been 96 hours (48 hours of course was on a Saturday), and there hasn’t been a noticeable change, so I’m waiting for an appointment with my own doctor…..

I know I’ll get better.  I’m just frustrated, and need to vent.  I will survive this “common summer cold”.   Hope everyone out there is having a good day….or for some, at least part of a good day!  Take what you can get.

p.s. special thanks to my husband who has been beyond patient.

The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana

The Missing Girl

The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana

 Published: May 31, 2018 by Pan Macmillan

4stars

 

The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana is a mystery.

First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Pan MacMillan, and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Synopsis:
In 1982 Anna Flores was only 12 when her beloved 15-year old sister Gabriella went missing. They had been close, and even when Gabriella started to become interested in boys, make-up, music and other friends, she made time for Anna. The exhaustive search for Gabriella took its toll on the family. Her dad died from a heart attack and her mother withdrew. Anna continued her search, but she was only a child. She left the village as soon as she could, traveled, and tried to move on. But thoughts of Gabriella were always near.

30 years later, when her mother passes away, Anna returns to the village. She must bury her mother, and sell her father’s store. But Anna’s grief has never left, and returning to the village only renews her interest in Gabriella’s disappearance. When looking through her mother’s possessions, she finds something that adds a new dimension to her search.

The story is told in two voices, both Anna.

12-year-old Anna is devastated at the loss of her sister, resentful of her mom and dad, who are keeping secrets from her, mad at Gabriella’s friend Martha, whose relationship with her sister she never understood, and angry at the town for giving up. She is determined to find her sister….alive. She is feeling very alone.

42-year-old Anna is still grieving the loss of her sister, still questioning the town, still angry at Martha, but not quite as livid. She still feels alone.

My Opinions:
This is a story about family, about grief, about secrets. It shows the impact the loss of a child has on each member of the family.

I loved how the author showed Anna at both ages, and although I didn’t really like 12-year-old Anna, I think the author got her right. Both the town itself, and its residents played a role in this mystery, and Quintana gave them both the depth that was needed.

The book seems to have a slow pace, but that seems to make it more emotionally gripping. It is still a fairly fast read, because you didn’t really want to put it down.

For a debut novel, this was good! I am looking forward to more from this Jenny Quintana.

 

Read: August 2018

Favorite Quote from The Missing Girl:

“‘Grief is an unwelcome guest. The only thing you can do is let it live alongside.”

 

About the Author: Jenny Quintana grew up in Essex and Berkshire, before studying English Literature in London. She has taught in London, Seville and Athens and has also written books for teaching English as a foreign language. She now lives with her family in Berkshire.

The Weight of Silence by Gregg Olsen (#2 Nicole Foster)

The Weight of Silence (Nicole Foster Thriller #2)

The Weight of Silence by Gregg Olsen

 Publishing: August 14, 2018 by Thomas & Mercer

4stars

 

Previous Book in the Series: #1 The Sound of Rain

The Weight of Silence by Gregg Olsen is the 2nd in the Nicole Foster Detective Series.

First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Thomas & Mercer, and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Series Background (Warning – May contain spoilers from previous books):
Homicide Detective Nicole Foster is far from perfect. Her taste in men is questionable. She has a gambling addiction. Her relationship with her both her father and her sister Stacy has been poor. But she tries.

My Synopsis:
Nicole has been looking after her 7-year old niece Emma, since her sister fled to Mexico, after killing her husband. Emma believes that both her parents are dead. Nicole thinks that is for the best. She has also made sure that her own father is in a better nursing home, using money she got from her sister. She has a new partner, and is working for the police in her home town. She’s trying to keep everything going, a fresh start.

When a baby is discovered dead in the back of a car on the hottest day of the year, memories of another lost child resurface in Nicole’s mind. But she tries to just concentrate on one-year old Ally.  The child’s father is quickly arrested, and further investigation shows what a monster he is. On the other hand, his wife is not much better. These people did not really want Ally, and unfortunately, her death is the result.

Meanwhile, Stacy shows up, and wants to see Emma. Nicole is not going to let that happen. She is going to stop this…whatever it takes.

My Opinions:
Gregg Olsen tackles tough subjects. He never shies away from the horror of a situation, but he treats the subject with respect. This book was no different. The death of a child in a hot car. The feelings of horror and disgust that the detectives who have to investigate this crime felt. The public rallying around the parents. The overall despair. It’s hard on the reader’s emotions…because this type of thing happens in real life, every year, when parents leave their children in a hot car. Tragedy.

It is a book about lies, about deceit, about knowing who to trust.

Yes, this book tells the tale of a horrific crime. It also tells the tale of two sisters, and the lies, deceit, and trust issues surface here as well. The relationship between Nicole and Stacy is one that takes place in many homes, where one sister is manipulative, sly, cunning, always getting her own way, always getting her digs in. Instead of the relationship mellowing over time, this book takes that relationship to the extreme, where that manipulative sister becomes a murderer.

Gregg Olsen is an amazing writer!

 

Read: July 2018

 

Gregg Olsen

About the Author:  Gregg Olsen (March 5 1959 – ) is a native of Seattle Washington.  He currently lives in Washington with his wife and twin daughters.  He is the bestselling author of over 20 books, both fiction and non-fiction.  He has appeared on various television and radio shows as well as being featured in a number of magazines.  He was won numerous awards.

Chills by Mary SanGiovanni (#1 Kathy Ryan)

Chills (Kathy Ryan, #1)

Chills by Mary Sangiovanni

 Published: September 2016

3.5 stars

 

 

Chills by Mary SanGiovanni is the 1st in the Kathy Ryan series. It is a horror novel. Note that this book was originally published in 2015 under the title “The Blue People”.

Series Background:
Kathy Ryan is called in by police forces across the country when strange things are found. She is one of the leading experts in occult practices, ancient grimoires, devil worship, blood sacrifices, and rites to archaic gods and monsters. The reason behind her expertise is not well-known, but most agree that it has something to do with the scar that runs down her face.

My Synopsis:
A freak snowstorm hits the town of Colby, Connecticut at the end of May, essentially closing the town. When a body is found hanging upside down from a tree, marked with a demonic symbol, and with ritualistic undertones, it is only the beginning. Police Detective Jack Frazier quickly gathers a team, including Kathy Ryan and Detectives Reece Teagan and Oliver Morris. A cult known as the Hand of the Black Stars has opened a door, and the “things” that are coming out of that door plan on wiping out Colby, and the world beyond. If people don’t believe in monsters, they will soon.

My Opinions:
I enjoyed this, although I did have a couple of complaints. The “Blue People” should have been called something a little more sophisticated. I had no idea what an “anglerfish” looked like, but apparently everyone else in town did, so I googled it, and then freaked a little. I also found the book a little wordy at times.

All that being said, I loved the premise of the book…a town cut off by snow, and the snow itself an enemy. Living in a city where you could, theoretically, be cut off in the winter, it rang true. However, most of us know to stay inside when the weather turns. I liked the characters of Kathy, Teagan and Morris, but found Jack to be a little shallow. I’d like to know more about those characters in future books, and hope they work together again.

Overall, it was a fast, entertaining read. Needless to say, I’ll be reading more of her books.

Read: July 2018

Favorite Quotes from Chills:

“Well, I’m off. Could eat the ass of a low-flyin’ duck,” Teagan said suddenly.”

“The lives of others should never be of such preoccupation that it keeps you from living yours.”

“Maybe,” Teagan said noncommittally. “Some days I believe that. I look at this f—ed up bloody world and see we don’t be needing the likes of monster-gods with unpronounceable names to come and do the job for us. We do just fine screwing ourselves, don’t we?” 

 

Mary SanGiovanni

About the Author: Mary SanGiovanni is an American author who writes psychological horror and supernatural novels. Her fiction has appeared in periodicals and anthologies for the last decade.  She has a Masters in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, and is a member of The Authors Guild and Penn Writers.

Foe by Iain Reid

Foe

Foe by Iain Reid

 Publishing: August 7, 2018 by Simon and Schuster

5Stars

 

 

Foe by Iain Reid is a psychological sci-fi thriller, set in the future.

First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Simon & Schuster Canada, and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Synopsis:
Junior and Hen (Henrietta) have led a very quiet life in the country, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. They have been very happy. Then Terrance shows up.

Junior has been randomly chosen by Outermore to take part in the Installation of a space station. He will be leaving sometime in the future, and be gone for a year, possibly more. Since he is married, he and his wife must both be on board with this, and they will both be required to undergo detailed preparations leading up to his departure. Terrance will be their liaison, and through in-depth interviews, he will determine what both Hen and Junior will need to make sure that this is done with the least amount of anxiety. In order to help Hen cope with Junior’s absence, a “replacement” will come to live with her.

Junior starts to question things. A replacement? Does he really know his wife as well as he thought? What about Terrance? Is there something more going on?

My Opinions:
Told through the thoughts of Junior, the tale concentrates on his relationship with his wife, with himself, and with the world itself.

I knew going into this that somewhat intense thinking may be required. Iain Reid is a wonderful author, but he does make you think. You can’t read something of his, close the book, and say, well, that was good, or that was bad. It stays with you. This was no exception. Everything is always in question. Belief is optional. I always end up putting myself in the position of his characters and wonder how I would react. The inevitable twists at the end rocked! Definitely hard to put down.

It was a fast read, a chilling read, a thought-provoking read. By the end, you will find yourself questioning the future, your own relationships, and humanity itself.

WOW!

Read: July 2018

Favorite quote from Foe:

“Beauty isn’t fleeting. Beauty is eternal. But . . . I’m not. I’m fleeting.”

 

Iain ReidAbout the Author:  Iain Reid is a Canadian author, and 2015 recipient of the RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award.  He graduated from Queen’s where he studied History, English lit, and philosophy.  He currently resides in Kingston, Ontario.

Photograph by Lucas Tingle

The House on West 10th Street by Helen Phifer (#1 Ghosts of New York)

The House on West 10th Street (The Ghosts of New York Series)

The House on West 10th Street  by Helen Phifer

 Published: April 2018

4stars

 

The House on West 10th Street by Helen Phifer is a mystery novel with more than a hint of the supernatural. It is dubbed as being the 1st in the Ghosts of New York Series on Goodreads….although the author’s website says it’s a stand-alone novel. I’ll just cross my fingers that more are coming!

My Synopsis:
Three years ago, NYPD Detective Maria Miller and her partner Frankie Conroy were called to a horrific crime that was never truly solved. A headless body was found in a brownstone on West 10th Street. They never found the head. Maria has never forgotten this gruesome case.

Now, Maria and Frankie are again looking into this brownstone. Their boss approached them when his daughter Max, now a reporter, found additional information. Apparently, 52 years ago, another headless corpse was found at that same address. Although the original owner & his wife are now dead, their son in a psychiatric ward, their daughter Emelia still owns, and resides in the house.

Although Maria is not a believer in the supernatural, it doesn’t take long for her to start wondering. There is a bad feeling about the house, a bad smell, and strange noises. She starts to wonder whether Max could be right, and that the son was trying to summon a demon…and someone else is trying to finish the job. One more body, and that demon may be free to roam New York.

My Opinions:
This was a really entertaining book. I loved the relationship between Maria and Frankie. The characters were well thought out, and their dialogues and actions felt right. The plot was great, and flowed smoothly. The book was suspenseful, and had touches of humor that surprised me. It was really hard to put down.

I’ve never read anything by this author, but will have to remedy that. I hope there is another one following Maria and Frankie!

Read: June 2018

 

Helen Phifer

About the Author: Helen Phifer is a British Author of crime and horror.  She is best known for writing both the Annie Graham series and Lucy Harwin series.  Helen lives in a small town called Barrow-in-Furness with her husband and five children.

Before I Met Him by John Nicholl (#2 Gareth Gravel)

Before I Met Him (DI Gravel, #3)

Before I Met Him by John Nicholl

 Published: July 24, 2018 by Bloodhound Books

5Stars

 

Previous Book in the Series: #1 – Portraits of the Dead

Before I Met Him by John Nicholl is the 2nd in the Detective Gareth Gravel series. Note that this book was previously titled A Mind to Kill.

First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Bloodhound Books, and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Series Background (Warning – May contain spoilers from previous books):
DI Gareth Gravel (Grav) has been with the West Wales Police force for over 20 years. Grav has recently lost his wife Heather to cancer, and his some of his bad habits are resurfacing. He has a rather gruff manner, smokes cigars, loves his sugar, and has really good investigative skills. He figures he could probably be a DCI, but he doesn’t always play well with others, and politics are not his forte. He has just lost his long-term partner, DS Clive Rankin.

My Synopsis:
Rebecca Smith didn’t get justice as a child. She was abused by her ballet teacher, and her abuser went free. Partly to blame is the justice system, and young Detective Gareth Gravel. She is 23 now, and taking things into her own hands. Since she can’t find her abuser, she takes revenge on others who would abuse a child. She’s gotten quite good at this.

DS Laura Kesey is called upon to step up and investigate when body parts found in the water. A severed head, and two arms are found, but they are from two different people, and identifying the owner of that second arm is going to prove difficult. Kesey wants to prove she can handle this, but in truth, hopes for help.

Grav is on a 3 week holiday to visit his son in Barbados. It is not going that well. His anger and drinking habits quickly take their toll on an already fragile relationship. But the department forced him to take a break, and he’s trying to make the most of it. When he is called back to Wales to take over the lead of a double murder, he is happy to respond.

When Grav and Rebecca meet again, he will have a difficult decision to make.

My Opinions:
This was a rather tough read. The subject matter was difficult. Child abuse always is. But when someone is hunting the abusers down, and those victims deserve what they get, sometimes it’s hard to find fault with the perpetrator. But Nicholls handled the topic brilliantly. He’s not afraid to make you uncomfortable.

I may not be fond of Grav’s attitude toward women, nor his abuse of alcohol, but I do love his heart!

Overall, I am really enjoying this series. This book was dark, it was disturbing, and it was really good.

Can’t wait for more!

Read: July 2018

John  NichollAbout the Author:  John Nicholl is a Welsh author, an ex-police officer, child protection social worker,  and lecturer.  He is happily married, with three adult children and one grandchild. 

They Won’t Be Hurt by Kevin O’Brien

They Won't Be Hurt

 They Won’t Be Hurt by Kevin O’Brien

 Publishing: July 31, 2018 by Pinnacle Books (Kensington Publishing)

4stars

 

 

They Won’t Be Hurt by Kevin O’Brien is a thriller.

First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Kensington Books, and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Synopsis:
Laura Gretchell, her husband Sean, and three children have recently moved to Leavenworth, Washington and bought a Vineyard. Her eldest, Sophie is sixteen, and adjusting well. So is twelve year old Liam. Four year old Jamie loves pre-school. Laura had been a full-time teacher in Seattle for years, and then, a little bit before Sophie was born, she came to the aid of Joey Spiers, a small boy who was always being bullied by another student (not to mention being abused by his mother). The father of the bully took offence, and Laura has the scars to prove it. Since then, she has only been a substitute teacher, trying not to get too close to her students. Their move to Leavenworth will be a fresh start. Her husband is currently away on a buying trip in Europe.

Pool little Joey ended up being raised by his Grandmother, thanks to Laura’s help. But when his Grandmother died, Joey went a little crazy, beat someone up, and ended up in a Mental Hospital. But he is better now. Joey is the caretaker of the vacation property for the wealthy Singleton family. Scott Singleton is a former Seahawks linebacker, turned self-ordained minister, who started his own religious sect called the Church of the True Divine Light. When the whole family is found bound, gagged and stabbed to death inside the compound, and a boyfriend of the eldest girl is shot, Joey is the prime suspect. How can he have slept through all the carnage? Joey tries to help the police, but when his old friend Victor Moles from the Mental Hospital shows up, Joey is convinced to run.

Joey and Vic show up at Laura’s, where Joey is convinced Laura will save him again. Unfortunately, Vic is a sociopath with his own agenda. Suddenly Laura’s family is being held captive by the pair, and she is being forced to go out and prove Joey’s innocence. But she has a lot of ground to cover, and time is short.

My Opinions:
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It seemed to have a slow start, but when it picked up speed, it was hard to put down. It ended up being a very fast easy read. I loved the characters (well, most of them), and they had enough depth to make them seem real. Told from different viewpoints, the story leapt from one action-packed chapter to the next. Great suspense continued to build with each mile Laura put on.

Definitely have to read more of Kevin O’Brien’s books!

 

Read: July 2018

 

About the Author: Kevin O’Brien (1955 – ) was raised in Chicago, and now lives in Seattle Washington.  Before his writing career took off, he was a railroad inspector by day, and aspiring novelist by night.  Now he is a full-time thriller writer.

Now She’s Gone by Alison James (#2 Rachel Prince)

Now She's Gone (Detective Rachel Prince Book 2)

Now She’s Gone by Alison James

 Published: May 31st 2018

4stars

 

Previous Book in the Series: #1 – Lola is Missing (previously titled The Lying Kind)

Now She’s Gone by Alison James is the 2nd in the Detective Rachel Prince Mystery Series.

Series Background:
DI Rachel Prince is a Detective with the NCA (National Crime Agency), which includes Interpol. She has recently been divorced (although they had been separated for 17 years). She works with DS Mark Brickall, who seems to be rather flippant about his job.

My Synopsis:
DI Prince is sent to Edinburgh Scotland to look into the death of a 16-year-old girl who the police say got drunk, and tragically fell to her death while trying to take a selfie. She was with a group of students visiting The Fringe Festival, which was organized by a travel company who promoted fully supervised tours. Her father, a Dutch national, insists that Emily would not have drank, and had no interest in photography, but he does know something was bothering her. Rachel and her boss figure this will just be a diplomatic mission to make them look good to the Dutch embassy. However, things seem strange almost from the start, and when they discover that another death had occurred the year before, under similar circumstances, and with the same travel company, the investigation ramps up.

Meanwhile, Rachel’s past is coming back in a big way, with the unexpected arrival of Joe. Her life is about to change drastically.

My Opinions:
I enjoyed this one much more than the first in this series. Rachel continues to be a strong character, and I love her relationship with Brickall. They work well together. We get to see a softer side to her in this book.

We also see what can happen when the foolish mistakes you make come back to bite you. I think this was my only problem with the book.  Personally, I feel that yes, Rachel handled her past in a horrible fashion, but I think it also got corrected a little too easily.   The ease with which she overcame her past mistakes didn’t ring true.  I think the whole “Joe” segment was wishful thinking on the part of the author.  I just can’t see the parties forgive and forget so quickly.

However, on the main plot, the author didn’t shy away from the dark subject of child pornography, and the plot was really good. It was a very fast read. Looking forward to more!

Read: June 2018

 

About the Author: Alison James is a British author who studied languages at Oxford, then became a journalist, author, paralegal, commercial copywriter, a TV storyliner, and has now returned to writing.