Review 1:Author: Iona Morrison, The Wild Rose Press, Inc (April 24, 2019)
Genre: Paranormal Murder Mystery
Blurb: When a ghost decides it’s high-time for her murder to be solved, she chooses Jessie Reynolds to solve the cold case. Armed with only the girl’s name, Jessie goes in search of information and is stunned to find a link connecting the dead girl to Matt Parker. Is it possible the man Jessie cares about had something to do with the crime?
As the case unfolds, Matt and Jessie have all they can handle dealing with two possibly connected murders, a menacing man from Jessie’s past, and the knowledge of a porn ring at the local high school that could take down several prominent citizens of Blue Cove. Racked with questions and doubts about their relationship, Jessie will have to work with Matt to find a way to bury the past and build a bridge to the future.
In the latest release from Iona Morrison’s popular Blue Cove series, bookseller Jessie Reynolds tries to help a ghost from her boyfriend’s past while dealing with a menacing figure from her own background. In this Ghost Whisperer meets Murder She Wrote genre mashup, Iona Morrison ticks all the tropes—with the merciful exception of knitting, cupcakes, cats, and gay best friend—for a cozy mystery:
- Setting is a small (New England) town full of eccentric characters with a tendency to become murder victims.
- Devoted supporting posse includes all-important police connection Matt Parker (boyfriend and police chief).
- What sex there is—poor Matt hasn’t made it past second base yet—occurs behind firmly closed doors.
- Even as bodies pile up offstage, most blood and gore is reported later. MUCH later, in fact, and frequently it takes the form of ghostly victims only Jessie can see.
As she’s out jogging with the local high school track team, Jessie is sidetracked by a distraught girl who she soon realizes is yet another ghost. This time, however, the ghost is a tragic figure from Matt’s past who has spent years waiting for justice and (presumably) release. In addition, local young girls are victimized by a porn ring, and a menacing and very much alive figure from Jessie’s past returns to threaten the happy new life she’s built in Blue Cove.
Like the other books in this series, Finding a Way Forward is written with confidence and style. Jessie and Matt’s sweet and careful courtship is slowly progressing, while her friends are also developing into three-dimensional characters whose relationships evolve slowly with each new volume, while supporting characters also change and grow into more rounded figures.
If I have any minor complaints, it would be with a few plot elements which I found unrealistic. And yes, I get that it might seem inconsistent if I totally buy into the willing suspension of belief when it comes to Jessie’s relationship with ghosts, but complain about other details. But even if nobody in Blue Cove notices how Jessie exposes almost every prominent member of their little town as either being involved with horrific crimes ranging from organized organ harvesting to child abuse to pornography, or as a ghostly victim of same, I would think Jessie’s neighbors would start to avoid her. Also, while I love that Jessie is firmly reinventing herself as badass instead of victim, her repeated ability to shoot the gun out of the hands of moving targets is actually much more difficult to believe than her conversations with ghosts.
If you like your mysteries cozy, with a touch of supernatural, and a sweetly developing romance, I’d recommend not only upcoming release Finding a Way Forward but the entire Blue Moon series.
Review #2:Author: Griff Hosker, Endeavour Quill (January 28, 2019)
Genre: Historical epic thriller
Blurb: 13th Century, Wales and England.
To young Gruffyd, life has been unkind. Eking out a meagre living with his father, he has learned very quickly how to look after himself in the hostile borderlands. His father, an archer, has taught him well and at seventeen Gruffyd is a keen and able bowman. Young, loyal and skilled, it’s not long before Gruffyd finds himself following in his father’s footsteps, working as an archer in the bordering castle. But tragedy strikes when his lord commits a devastating deed, and Gruffyd is forced to make a life altering decision.
This is the story of a young archer’s riotous journey from avenging outlaw to merchant’s bodyguard to, finally, the captain of archers for the heir to the throne. Gruffyd must prove not only his own worth, but the importance of archery in some of England’s most decisive and ruthless battles.
Lord Edward’s Archer follows the life of a young archer in 13th century Britain. Although barely more than a boy, Gruffyd had the advantage of training from his father, a respected and prominent archer. This early training saves him when his father is killed, even as it impels him to commit an act which results in flight from home, friends, position, and even his name, which he changes to Gerald.
As a historical epic, Lord Edward’s Archer does a good job of showing both the intimate elements of a soldier’s life and a glimpse into the sweep of historical events that change the history of a nation. It’s a book filled with nonstop action, which Gerald survives due to his early training, growing expertise, and a frankly unbelievable amount of luck. I was particularly interested in the strategic military advantage of using archers like Gerald, an advantage which would later account for victory at the Battle of Agincourt.
Unfortunately, the historical detail and constant battles come at the expense of character development. Outside of the action scenes, I found characters undeveloped and dialog flat. Gerald’s ability to emerge virtually unscathed from the bloody encounters that claim almost everyone he encounters is essential for the plot but increasingly unconvincing.
What I realized is that Lord Edward’s Archer is basically a video game in which the main character takes down a succession of powerful and wily foes to advance to the next level. He’s an action-hero with no need for introspection, growth, or self-awareness, a medieval first-person shooter with a bow and uncanny luck.
If you like nonstop battle action in a believable medieval setting without all that pesky character development, plot, or dialog, then Lord Edward’s Archer is a good choice for you.
Review #3:Author: Linda Huber
Genre: Family/psychological drama. Published by Bombshell Books: an imprint of Bloodhound Books (25 Mar. 2019)
What happens when a baby goes missing?
Twenty-two years ago, Erin and Vicky’s parents were killed in an explosion.
Now grown up, Erin and Vicky – who have been separated – are unaware they are siblings. But when Vicky is called to her great-aunt’s deathbed, she learns that she isn’t alone after all.
But where is Erin? Vicky’s search begins…
Elsewhere, Christine has problems of her own. In the first week of her new job, she makes a disturbing discovery and is struggling to come to terms with impending motherhood.
Vicky is almost ready to give up her search when an old foster mother calls with shocking news.
What links Vicky and Christine?
Will Vicky ever find her sister?
And can Christine’s baby escape the past that befell her mother?
In Linda Huber’s new psychological thriller, Stolen Sister, she tells a story out of every family’s nightmare—a child goes missing, and years go by without knowing where they are. Young parents are caught in a fire, and the mother’s last heroic act is to throw her baby to waiting arms below.
From there, author Linda Huber revisits themes from earlier books: success/failure of parent-child relationships, the seductive descent into mental illness, the contrasting ways people deal with horrific events. But this time she’s looking through the eyes of the next generation. The children who were victims are now adults. Baby Erin who disappeared into the mists of time has grown up in a different family. Big sister Vicky grew up in foster care, loved by the great-aunt who was already too frail to care for her. In turn, she devotes herself to brother Jamie—fragile, developmentally delayed, suffering with severe cerebral palsy—but she never even knows about her missing baby sister until Great Aunt Maisie is on her deathbed.
A trope of modern relationship fiction is the “family-by-choice”, the idea that emotional ties are as binding as those of blood. But in Stolen Sister, Linda Huber explores a different path. As everyone who researches family history knows, we find hints of who we are in the lives and histories of relatives in previous generations. The act of defining your relatives also defines yourself.
Stolen Sister explores the very real bond that exists between siblings, even when it’s been severed by tragedy. As Vicky and Christine/Erin discover each other and begin to rebuild that fragile connection, they learn about themselves through each other. The arrival of a new baby is both a chance to strengthen those bonds, and a nightmare opportunity for the past to repeat itself.
As always, author Linda Huber builds complex, flawed, three-dimensional characters who explore these themes. They make mistakes, they learn, they are hurt, and they take chances on love. For me, an additional bonus was setting the story in Glasgow’s iconic West End, where I know all the streets and can picture the sisters’ encounters. As always, the world built is believable and real, while the pace moves from initial tragedy, to slowly developing awareness, to heart-pounding climax.
If you like a complex story about relationships, family, and psychological demons, Stolen Sister would be my five-star pick.