Monday, November 24, 2014

A Blogger's Rant

You have to love people who make comments on your posts without ever having read the books. (Insert sarcasm here.)  They have decided, that just because it is a subject or author they love, that you have no right to your opinion.  They will make one snide comment in an attempt to what?  Embarrass you?  Deride you?  Make you rethink what you said?  I read a comment this morning on a review I recently wrote about a book - but they had not read the book; yet they felt qualified to inform me that my opinion was wrong.

If you are going to tell someone you don't agree with them, then don't YOU agree they should at least know the material?  You can't just arbitrarily tell someone they're an idiot without knowing what you're talking about, or you are the one who looks like an idiot.  I went on to explain the statement I made (it was actually some remarks the author had made against a race and religious denomination of people I thought others might find offensive, which, if this person had read the book, they would have  known - I merely stated that some might find the remarks offensive) and also to explain to them that this was my personal opinion, of which I had a right to.  Otherwise, why am I writing this blog?   Certainly it is to offer my reviews/opinions. 

Now, I am not saying that I don't welcome others' opinions; I do.  I welcome both positive and negative opinions.  However, like any writer (and even though I am not a novelist, of whom I have great respect, I am a blogger, which is also a writer) I don't appreciate being attacked personally because of something I wrote.  If you disagree, then state in writing why you disagree.  Don't make a negative comment on my review, (or others) about something I wrote without explaining your remarks.  You can't just tell someone their book is unbelievable, puerile, etc., or a reviewer that their comments are inane, ridiculous, etc. and think that it's not a personal attack.

I don't understand how someone can offer their opinion on reviews of a book if they have not read that book.  It is one thing to offer something of a nature such as "Thank you - I was/wasn't going to read the book, etc." and quite another to tell someone that they don't have the right to think the way you do regarding the content, considering they haven't even read the book.  They basically told me the statement was stupid, which I felt was a personal attack on me and, if any of you are honest, you would have felt the same way. 

So people, my point is this:  If you are going to offer a comment or opinion on a review, please either read the book first, or, if you are commenting on an article they are writing, explain yourself thoroughly.  Nothing upsets any writer more, regardless of what they write, than someone making a personal attack that is nothing more than an uninformed comment.

Happy reading and writing to you all.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dying for the Past (A Gumshoe Ghost Mystery #2)

Author:  T.J. O'Connor
Genre:  Mystery/Paranormal

Five Stars
Dying is not for the faint of heart.
Neither is the murder of a mysterious philanthropist with ties to the Russian mob and 1939 gangsters.
Former detective Oliver “Tuck” Tucker—ghost-detective extraordinaire—is on the case with the help of his wife, Professor Angela Tucker and his former police-detective partners. Together, they must find the killer and be the first to read "the book"—deceased gangster Vincent Calabrese’s journal that names names and reveals the dirty secrets of several modern-day spies.

As Tuck learns the book’s secrets, he begins to unravel his own family’s wayward past leading to the question—is being a ghost hereditary?

Even while chasing a killer, the biggest challenge Tuck must conquer is how to be back amongst the living as one of them.

We first met our protagonist, Oliver Tucker, in Dying to Know.  In that book, he was killed...but not gone.  In fact, he's still living in his home, with his wife Angela and dog Hercule, and still trying to convince his partner, Bear Braddock, that he's around and still willing to help him solve cases.
While Angela, whose love for her husband has allowed her to see and interact with Tuck as if he were still alive (at least interact as far as one can with a ghost), Bear is definitely having problems with it and trying to completely ignore "the voices in his head."
This time around, Angel (as Tuck calls her) a Professor of History, is giving a gala to fund her department for various reasons.  Among the guests is a very rich man who is shot dead - in the middle of the gala, right in front of everyone, including the police.  However, there are no witnesses, and the only suspect appears to be Angela's uncle Andre Cartier, who raised her.  On top of that, the entire amount of money raised (checks and cash) has also disappeared.  Unwilling to believe Andre guilty of murder, Tuck decides to find the real killer. 
But there's a slight problem:  in the middle of the gala, only he saw a man enter - a man dressed in clothes from the 1930's, who stayed for a very short time, and after the shooting left the same way he came.  Thus begins our mystery.
And oh, what a mystery it is.  For not only is Tuck tasked to find the real killer, but he must also find out who the mysterious man is, which he does in short order.  It turns out he is a gangster named Vincent Calabrese, who was killed in 1939 and the house where the gala is being held belongs to him.  It turns out that while Angela wants Vincent House for the university where she works, Vincent isn't so willing to give it up.
But soon this becomes even more of a deep and twisted mystery.  While we follow Tuck to find out where this all leads, he is contacted by Vincent, and Vincent's sexy mistress, Sassy, to find someone for him named Benjamin and a mysterious book.  It seems the book is the cause of all the trouble and Vincent wants it back.  No one seems to know where it is now, but we soon find that there are a lot of people who want it, now including Tuck, who must find the book or face the consequences.  For while it is apparent that Tuck, already dead, can't be killed twice, he soon discovers that not only can he taste Vincent's whiskey, he has discovered a new power - when he touches certain objects, he finds himself drawn into the history of that object as another person or an observer, whether it be in the recent past or the past where Vincent existed.
Stunned with this knowledge, he also discovers that someone is stalking Angela for unknown reasons.  Add to this the fact that the FBI now wants jurisdiction into the murder and that it is somehow tied to his own past and the Russian mob, and we have a compelling novel indeed.
Mr. O'Connor has given us a book that not only draws us into the action, we find ourselves wanting to know more about Tuck, and all the people in his life past and present - Angela, Bear, Poor Nic, and even Vincent, a recent arrival but I hope to see and find out more about him in the next book in the series.  Here's hoping that Tuck will go on a long time; in death he is one of the most interesting protagonists I have ever met; I can only wonder how interesting his life must have been.  Kudos to a great book; highly recommended.
This book will be published in January 2015.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tagged for Death: A Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery

Author:  Sherry Harris
Genre:  Mystery

Three Stars
Starting your life over at age thirty-eight isn't easy, but that's what Sarah Winston finds herself facing when her husband CJ runs off with a 19-year-old temptress named Tiffany.  Sarah's self-prescribed therapy happily involves hitting all the garage and tag sales in and around her small town of Ellington, Massachusetts.  If only she could turn her love for bargain-hunting into a full-time career.
But after returning from a particularly successful day searching for yard sale treasures, Sarah finds a grisly surprise in one of her bags: a freshly bloodied shirt....that undoubtedly belongs to her ex, CJ, who now happens to be Ellington's chief of police.  If that's not bad enough, it seems Tiffany has gone missing.  Now it's up to Sarah to prove that her cold-hearted ex is not a cold-blooded killer.
Let me tell you first that the blurb is misleading:  CJ did NOT run off with a 19-year-old.  He had a one-night stand with her, which is a completely different thing entirely.  Because of this, Sarah leaves him. However, she doesn't leave town, although she has no ties to the area and no job.  She (somehow) gets an apartment (without an income?) and carries on with her life as if nothing happened.  What I mean is that she continues to volunteer at the military base thrift store, mingling with everyone as if nothing at all occurred.  What's worse is the fact that EVERYONE takes her cheating husband's side! 
I absolutely did NOT like the beginning of this book.  Police officers pulling her over and giving her a ticket for going ONE MILE over the speed limit?  Really?  Since her husband was chief of police and it was his officers doing this, and later in the book she notes how her husband always knew what "his people" in the military were doing, so how can he not know his officers were doing this?  Why didn't he stop it?  You'd think if he wanted her back - which he appears to do - he would instruct his officers to be nice to her, not the opposite.  You'd also think they'd be smart enough on their own to be nice to her to encourage her to go back.  But do they?  Nope.  They make her feel like she's being hounded.  Yeah, that will send her back into his arms.
And the fact that she allows it to continue because of - what?  According to Sarah, all the cops and military people hate her because SHE LEFT HER HUSBAND FOR CHEATING ON HER.  So I guess in their minds, it's okay to cheat on your spouse.  Their wives must have fun while they're off working, not to mention all the military.  Those deployments must be a riot for both spouses.  What the officers do to her is tantamount to harassment, but she allows it to continue.  Is she a doormat?  A coward?  Also, most people (except for a couple of loyal friends) are also on the side of Tiffany - the woman who broke up her marriage.  So I guess in the military cheating is okay, but not for the wronged spouse. 
Also, someone is calling on a regular basis and shooting a gun off in the phone and she won't tell her ex about it.  She doesn't even ask to get her phone number changed.  Just tolerates it.  Again, really?  This book could have been so much better without all the vitriol against Sarah.  And she didn't help, being even more of a victim by taking it and not fighting back.  She's being stalked and harassed but that's okay, because they like CJ and Sarah deserved being cheated on, right?  Again, really? 
Then, when she finds the bloody shirts and gives them to CJ, she intends to prove he's innocent so goes about trying to solve the disappearance and possible murder herself.  Now, CJ is the chief of police, but he doesn't even bother to try and find out anything about Tiffany.  It appears as if it's all up to the ex-wife to prove him innocent.  There was nothing in the book to indicate he was doing any investigating on his own, so I can only come to that conclusion.
Also, it is implied that she can make a living organizing garage sales.  They must have an awful lot of them in Massachusetts and an awful lot of busy people who have no time to decide what their stuff is worth and let someone else decide for them (excuse me, but I'll decide what my things are worth, thank you very much.)  Apparently no one is able to bargain with people except Sarah.  Why are you having a garage sale if you can't bargain?  My sister has about two a year, tags her own stuff, and bargains just fine without help.  If you can't figure it out on your own, give it to charity.
Also, the reason her husband was set up for murder (and we know it was a set up all along, as it always is, so I'm not giving anything away) was insane.  You're angry at someone so you decide to send them to prison or possibly the death penalty?  Again, really? 
Three stars because the writing was fairly good, the descriptions of Massachusetts' surrounding areas great, and insights into military life (although my husband is ex-military, so I was already aware of it, but realize other readers wouldn't be) were interesting.  I didn't figure out the killer until just before Sarah did, so that was a big plus; there really weren't any clues leading up to it to tune us in, as it were.  I just couldn't get past all the nastiness of the secondary characters; and the fact that she was somehow able to get an apartment without any form of income, and where she was getting the disposable income to spend money at garage sales.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Death Comes to London (A Kurland St. Mary Novel #2)

Author:  Catherine Lloyd
Genre:  Mystery/Regency Romance

Three Stars

A season in London promises a welcome change of pace for two friends from the village of Kurland St. Mary until murder makes a debut. With the reluctant blessings of their father, the rector of Kurland St. Mary, Lucy Harrington and her sister Anna leave home for a social season in London. At the same time, Lucy's special friend Major Robert Kurland is summoned to the city to accept a baronetcy for his wartime heroism.

Amidst the dizzying whirl of balls and formal dinners, the focus shifts from mixing and matchmaking to murder when the dowager Countess of Broughton, the mother of an old army friend of Robert, drops dead. When it's revealed she's been poisoned, Robert's former betrothed, Miss Chingford, is accused, and she in turn points a finger at Anna. To protect her sister, Lucy enlists Robert's aid in drawing out the true culprit.

But with suspects ranging from resentful rivals and embittered family members to the toast of the ton, it will take all their sleuthing skills to unmask the poisoner before more trouble is stirred up.


Miss Lucy Harrington and her sister Anna are going to London for their first Season in order to find husbands.  Lucy is twenty-six years old and and as such, does not have the same high expectations as her younger, more vibrant sister.  Still, she expects to find someone who will suit her.

Soon after they leave, Major Kurland, whom Miss Harrington has nursed back to health after a grievous injury at Waterloo, is also summoned to London, but for a very different reason.  He is to be given a baronetcy by the Prince Regent in honor of his heroism during the battle.  Even though he isn't interested in such an award he knows he must go anyway, for it wouldn't do to disappoint the Prince.

When the major arrives in London he meets with old friends - Lieutenant Broughton, who has decided to sell out, like himself, and Andrew Stanford, a widower with two small children who has taken an interest in Miss Harrington and her friend, Mrs. Sophia Giffen, a young widow.

While at Almack's, that revered place where young ladies make matches with eligible men, Lieutenant Broughton's grandmother dies.  She was a harpy and quite a horrible woman, so everyone believes that she merely died from heart problems attributed to old age.  But when it is discovered that she died from being poisoned, Major Kurland decides to get involved because Miss Harrington, however inadvertent it may be, was involved (albeit vicariously) and he has set out to prove her blameless.  In doing so, he spends quite a bit of time with Lucy, which sets the London wags to talking.
There are two things that should happen in a mystery-romance; and especially in a mystery-romance that is also set in Regency England.  The first is that the mystery should be solved, with all ends tied up nicely; the second is that there should be a Happy Ending.  Anyone who enjoys reading Regency novels also expects that the romance part is tied up nicely.  In the first instance, we are not disappointed.  In the second, I refer to it as "being held hostage" by the author.  What do I mean by that, you ask?

Well, it merely means that the author has decided not to give us the romantic ending we wished.  It could have been done in a mere four or five pages more, but it was not. Therefore, the author has decided to  hold her readers hostage - in other words, ensure that they read the next book in the series by not having a resolution in the romance department in this one.  Now, it could have been done.  Anne Perry, who writes historical mystery/romance, for one, married off William Pitt quite early on and the books continue some 25 or 27 volumes later (I'm not sure exactly of the number.)  The fact that we knew how the relationship ended up quite early did not diminish her readership one bit.  This book amounts to what is known as a "cliffhanger."  Cliffhangers are good for television shows; not so good for  books.  Not that it doesn't happen, but what works in a present day setting unfortunately will not work in a Regency era novel (at least not any I've read.)

This book really didn't even really end.  It just...stopped.  There was nothing to let us know what was going to happen next, if Lucy and the Major were going to get together, etc.  It felt unfinished, and that was so completely disappointing.  But then, I am different in the fact that I will not be held hostage by an author: I absolutely will not purchase the next book in the series if I believe that the author has treated me unfairly in the current one.  I believe that it is a ploy by the author to ensure continued readership, and I, for one, will not be reading further.

Three stars for the writing, which was very good.  Read it if you've read the first, you will probably enjoy the further adventures of Major Kurland and Lucy.  Otherwise, use your own judgment.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Red Queen's Run (A Red Solaris Mystery Book 1)

Author:  Bourne Morris
Genre:  Mystery/Suspense

Five Stars
A famous journalism dead is found dead at the bottom of a stairwell. Accident or murder? The police suspect members of the faculty who had engaged in fierce quarrels with the dean—distinguished scholars who were known to attack the dean like brutal schoolyard bullies. When Meredith “Red” Solaris is appointed interim dean, the faculty suspects are furious. Will the beautiful red-haired professor be next? The case detective tries to protect her as he heads the investigation, but incoming threats lead him to believe Red’s the next target for death.
Meredith "Red" Solaris is associate dean for the School of Journalism at a University in northern Nevada.  Shortly after a heated faculty meeting, the dean, Henry Brooks, is found dead at the bottom of a staircase.  It isn't too long before it soon becomes apparent that what was at first thought of as an accident turns out to be a murder.
After the death, Meredith is appointed Interim Dean.  Along with that comes the problems of the school - a student caught cheating and recommended for expulsion, for one - and a host of suspects, which includes three of the tenured faculty members.
Along the way, Meredith finds herself attracted to the lead detective, Joe Morgan.  The attraction is mutual, but both have decided to keep their distance until the investigation is complete, which is proving hard to do.  Add to that the demons of their own pasts that they carry and must deal with, which makes a relationship between them a lot harder to navigate.  Yes, I know that as a detective Joe "shared" too much information with Meredith, but in my opinion I don't feel that it detracted from the book (and I am a stickler for things like that - just read my other reviews.)
I truly enjoyed this story.  The characters are fleshed out and believable, and I found myself rooting the entire way for Meredith as she wends her way through the problems of being dean at a college, and watching her handle each one as it comes along.
I also liked the fact that the solving of the murder took place over a period of time - from just before Thanksgiving right up until early spring, just as it might have in the real world.  In a murder such as this one, with no apparent suspects and no real evidence, it's not likely it would be solved in a week or two.  Given the period of time involved, I got to see the changes that occurred in Meredith and Joe's relationship - the attraction, the insecurities, etc.  It was refreshing, to say the least.
As to the murder itself, I really wasn't sure who the murderer was right away (and I'm pretty good at figuring it out since I read a lot of mysteries.)  The reason for the murder, as it were, made sense and fit right in with the rest of what was happening.  The plot was woven well, but not twisted or hard to follow; and it was enjoyable to see the "redemption" of one of the characters (you can't in reality expect redemption of all, even though it does happen in some books.)  All in all, a highly enjoyable read that is also highly recommended.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Shadow of Doubt (A Carol Childs Mystery Book #1)

Author:  Nancy Cole Silverman
Genre:  Mystery/Suspense

Four Stars
When a top Hollywood agent is found poisoned in the bathtub of her home suspicion quickly turns to one of her two nieces. But Carol Childs, a reporter for a local talk radio station doesn’t believe it. The suspect is her neighbor and friend, and also her primary source for insider industry news. When a media frenzy pits one niece against the other—and the body count starts to rise—Carol knows she must save her friend from being tried in courts of public opinion.
But even the most seasoned reporter can be surprised, and when a Hollywood psychic shows up in Carol’s studio one night and warns her there will be more deaths, things take an unexpected turn. Suddenly nobody is above suspicion. Carol must challenge both her friendship and the facts, and the only thing she knows for certain is the killer is still out there and the closer she gets to the truth, the more danger she’s in.

Pepper Millhouse is a Hollywood agent who is known and hated by all.  The only things she thinks of is making money and making life miserable for those around her.  So when she is found dead in the bathroom of her home, everyone is sure she has been murdered...and they're right.
Carol Childs works for a radio station as a news reporter.  She lives next door to Samantha, Pepper's niece and heir.  They have become friends since Sam moved in, and when Sam is soon arrested for Pepper's murder, Carol is convinced she didn't do it and is being set up by someone.
Before her arrest, things escalate when Sam asks Carol if she will lend moral support to her during the reading of the will.  Stunned to discover Sam has a twin sister, Sarah, she is even more stunned to realize Sarah hates Sam and is convinced she killed Pepper for control of the agency and its clients. 
But soon more bodies start piling up, murdered in the exact manner that killed Pepper, and to further complicate matters, Carol's boyfriend Eric is the FBI agent assigned to lead the case.  Add in the mix a young star named Amber that Carol is sure is involved somehow; Misty Dawn, a psychic for the FBI who is also employed by the talent agency and Carol thinks committed the murders; and Carol's own son Charlie, who is infatuated with Amber.
It all leads to a very nice mystery with a little suspense thrown in.  Ms. Silverman has given us a thoughtful tale in which things are not what they seem, and anyone involved could be the murderer.  The only reason I gave it four stars instead of five is because I was not completely satisfied with the ending.  Please don't get me wrong - we do get a resolution and find out the murderer; I just felt that I would have liked to have known the reactions of those involved when Carol finally put it all together (you have to read the book to understand why I feel the way I do.)  Recommended.

Dance of the Scarecrows (A Jonathan Wilder Mystery #1)

Author:  Ray Sipherd Genre:   Mystery Hardcover; Paperback; ISBN #:  9780312143060; 9780373262878 Worldwide Mystery 252 Pages Various...