Monday, April 15, 2019


Barbara Kingsolver
Harper Collins Publishers
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-06-268456-1
$ 29.99
465 pages

A single run-down home is what combines two families about one-hundred years apart.    Unfortunately, the house is in poor condition for both families.   Part of the house with water for the kitchen and bathroom appears to be leaning in mid-air no foundation under this addition.    Fortunately, the other part seems somewhat more substantial.  
Willa Knox finds that her plans for this stage in her life as she planned.   By now, she had expected herself to be a successfully published author and her husband, Iano being comfortably tenured at a college or university.   Instead,  Willa finds herself jobless with no prospects and her husband as an adjunct professor at a college with the two barely able to make ends meet.   She believes her son is successful in life with career and family and her daughter, Tig, is just hopeless.
One-hundred years ago,  Thatcher Greenwood moved into the house along with his wife and of course, his mother-in-law.   Both are disappointed in Thatcher.   They both expect to lead a high-class and wealthy lifestyle which could be difficult on a science teacher's salary.   Thatcher chooses to teach evolution in his classroom based on Darwin's recent discoveries.  Along with his neighbor, the two continue 
It does seem strange with both families suffer from the uncertainty of the future, both with worry about the house, feeling of the insecurity of becoming unsheltered is a fear.
Could there be something good about feeling unsheltered?
Barbara Kingsolver has written a beautiful story about two very different families each marching to an uncertain future.   Unshelved requires each one of us to think and reflect on our own choices, luck, achievements, in determining our personal and unique destiny.   
The characterization is outstanding.   You see a little of yourself in each character, whether good and evil or perhaps both.
Barbara Kingsolver is the author of many bestselling novels, including The Poisonwood Bible.  She has won numerous awards for her writing throughout the years.   She resides on her family farm in southern Appalachia.    
Unsheltered is unquestionably one of Kingsolver's woven and intricate stories.  The story takes a little time to read since you need to reflect along with the characters as the plot develops along two-time lines.  
Unsheltered is one of Kingsolver’s best novels.   This is as good as her novel The Poisonwood Bible.   This is for all readers, young and old, with a preference for those who are grandparents, especially women.
Unsheltered is one book that I personally will always feel as a precious memory.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Splinter in the Blood

Splinter in the Blood
Ashley Dyer
William Morrow Publisher
Harper Collins Publisher
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-06-279767-4
$ 26.99
400 pages

Have you ever noticed that murderers who have a touch of creativity in their killings seem to be remembered by a particular nickname making them more infamous?   The Son of Sam, The Zodiac Killer, and Jack the Ripper are only a few with this notorious distinction.     Add to this list now is The Thorn Killer who slowly poisons his victims from a poisonous ink tattooed to their bodies with thorns, instead of needles.   This unusual technique creates the Splinter in the Blood.

Imagine a murder where the hunter becomes the hunted.    That is Splinter in the Blood.

Detective Greg Carver is in the sitting room of his home.  He has blood on him, obviously from being shot in the chest. His partner, Detective Sergeant Ruth Lake is holding a 1911 Colt pistol.  She quickly places the gun, files, posters about The Thorn Killer grabbing anything connected with the case and carrying it to the trunk of her car.  All evidence is always left at the police station, not at the lead detective’s home.    As she wipes the house of fingerprints, she notices that there seems to be some movement from Greg’s eyes.     Could he be alive?

Yes, Greg Carver is alive, but for how long?   What does he remember about the shooting?  Ruth is off the case of The Thorn Killer.   A new team is taking over the entire Thorn Killer investigation.   Ruth quickly realizes that she and Greg were close to solving the case and that the replacing detectives will be new to learning all the information already discovered. Deciding that she needs to be at the hospital with Greg, she decides to take the evidence from Greg's home and continue on her own without the knowledge of the new team.  As Ruth begins to wonder if  The Thorn Killer is watching either Greg, herself, or both, she wonders if she can save  Greg, future victims and possibly herself from this t psychotic killer?

Ashley Dyer is the name created by two authors collaboratively writing this debut novel.   Margaret Murphy is a published novelist of nine police procedural and psychological suspense novels as well as a Writing Fellow and Reading Round Lector for the Royal Literary Fund as well as a past-chair of the Crime Writers’ Association and founder of Murder Squad.
Helen Pepper previously worked as an analyst, forensic scientist, scene of crime officer, CSI, and crime scene manager.  She is also a consultant on both Shetland and Vera television series as well as co-authoring professional policing texts.

Splinter in the Blood is a superb collaboration to create the new author Ashley Dyer.   The characterization is phenomenal allowing realistic people, not characters.   The plot is one of the most intriguing and intricate while being entirely addicting for any reader. 
Splinter in the blood is for the adult reader who can sleep comfortably without nightmares from what they read.  There is violence, gore, and explicit torture.   Unquestionably the book is one of the most intense thrillers of all time.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A Casualty of War

A Casualty of War
A Bess Crawford Mystery
Charles Todd
ISBN: 978-0-06-267878-2
Harper Collins Publishers
New York, New York
$ 26.99
378 pages

There are certain authors that you just can’t wait to read their next books.   Charles Todd is one of those that many people who enjoy authentic historical fiction feel anxious in waiting for the next book.  Personally, I feel that Todd truly seizes your mind immersing you in the World War I battlefield with the nurse, Bess Crawford.    There is no male or female preference, just dumping you onto the war torn areas so much that you can smell it.
World War I, was coming to an end and for nurse Bess Crawford returning home is now within her future.   While waiting for the transport, she chats with others and happens to meet a memorable soul, Captain Alan Travis,  He is a wealthy Englishman from a prestigious family who have made money in Barbados.
Surprisingly, while is still working near the Frontlines, Bess finds again that one her patients as Captain Travis.   While he is injured this time, he claims that his cousin, James Travis attempted to kill him.  She agrees to investigate only to find nothing about this Lieutenant Travis.  She does wonder if his possible concussion confused him and whether the Lieutenant even exists.
A while later, Bess meets Captain Travis for the third time.   He again claims that his cousin attempted to kill him.  He is badly wounded this time.   Whether Bess believes it or not, someone did shoot at him.
Unfortunately, as nurses know, there are numerous patients with extreme demands that constantly require her attention.
Bess is given leave to an English hospital specializing in brain injuries.   This time Captain Travis is suicidal causing him to be strapped to his bed.
Bess and her trusted friend, Sergeant Major Simon Brandon arrange to investigate the Captain’s claims.  The two travel to Suffolk to investigate the relationship between the twins only to discover a larger threat than they ever anticipated.
Charles Todd is actually a mother/son collaborative team living on the East Coast of the U.S.   They are known for their Inspector Rutledge as well as their Bess Crawford books.   Also, they have co-written two stand alone novels.
The characters are believable, likable or not, and authentic is the descriptions of their lives.  The experiences on the French battlefield hospitals is outstanding.  Usually, the plots are first rate.   This is the first Charles Todd novel that was predictable, which is not enjoyable in a historical mystery.  That said, these World War I books are outstanding in terms of setting and events.

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Otter of Death

The Otter of Death
A Gunn Zoo Mystery
Author: Betty Webb
Poisoned Pen Press
Scottsdale, Arizona
ISBN; 978-1-4642-0992-5
Trade Paperback
$ 15.95
265 pages

Theodora “Teddy” Bentley loves her work as a Zookeeper.  It always provides variety even with boring tasks.   While completing the annual “otter count” at Gunn Landing Harbor in California, Teddy discovers her favorite otter, Maureen is holding a smartphone.  You think of the possible fun in getting a phone away from an otter.
When Teddy actual examines the phone, she finds that the camera had been in use recently capturing a crime in action, a murder.
The phone belongs to Dr. Stuart Booth, part of the otter census crew and a marine biology instructor.  Stuart in not known for his good behavior, but has a tendency to sexually harass his female students who idolize him, at least for a while.
Fortunately or unfortunately, Teddy’s fiancé is Sheriff Joe Rejas.   He is handsome, hunky and doesn’t like Teddy nosing into his business.
So what is Teddy to do when her friend, Lila, an accuser of Booth’s conduct, is arrested for his murder?
Being Teddy, she follows her own ambitions and delves into the investigation if only to prove her friend innocent.
Teddy also reveals another side of her life, partying with the upper crust of the ultra-rich.   These events she does not usually attend by her choice, her mother tends to be involved a little too much.
The Otter of Death is Webb’s fifth novel in his Gunn Zoo series.  Yes, for those not acquainted with the series look for a puffin, an anteater, koala, and llama.  Each one involves many of the fictional zoo animals who tend to have many human characteristics.
Betty Webb was a journalist and has interviewed U.S. Presidents and Nobel Prize winners.  
Webb has also written another well-known mystery series featuring Lena Jones.   These books delve into the life of polygamy with Desert Noir, Desert Wives, Desert Shadows, Desert Run, Desert Lost, Desert Cut, Desert Wind, Desert Rage, and Desert Vengeance.  All of these are well-written mysteries included with the actual events of many of these unfortunate women.
I thoroughly enjoy all her books since there is always a piece of each one of us in her characters. Her settings, plots, and characters are realistic and visual to her readers.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Thread the Halls

Thread the Halls
Lea Wait
Kensington Publishing Corp.
New York, New York
ISBN:  978-1-4967-0630-0
$ 7.99
310 pages

Angie Curtis is looking forward to her first, of what she hopes is many, quiet Christmas holidays with Patrick West.   Patrick is also looking forward to his first holiday spent with Angie.  Both are anxious to see how their relationship grows during this holiday season.
Unfortunately, his mother has other ideas.
Skye West is both a movie star and Patrick’s mother.   She is planning on taking a break from her current movie, along with some co-stars, writers, and the director at her Victorian mansion in this small Maine town.   Of course, a well-known and loved celebrity who rarely visits her home mansion, can come home for Christmas bringing along a few friends, or acquaintances, and it won’t affect the town people at all.  Why would it?
Skye wants everything perfect.   The mansion needs to be decorated for Christmas like a picture perfect Currier and Ives postcard, complete with a horse-drawn sleigh, needlepoint pillows, high-class meals available at all hours, and of course, carolers.    Not to mention that to attend these events would require the proper outfits for Angie.
Patrick is at a slight disadvantage in decorating since his hands were injured in a fire.  He is still recuperating and wonders if he will ever return to his life as a painter.   For now, he seems content managing the local art gallery.
Relaxing quickly turns into a hectic race to get ready and to keep the secret from the media.
Lea Wait writes delightful cozy mysteries and phenomenal historical fiction for young adults regarding her home state, Maine.   Her needlepoint and antique print mysteries are fun to read.  Her historical fiction is outstanding, placing the reader immediately inside and feeling part of the story.
Her stories in this her needlepoint and antique print books carry the main characters from the first book forward.   Even though the books are part of a series, these can easily be read as standalone mysteries.  Obviously, there is more enjoyment if you follow the characters from the first book.
Lea Wait beautifully sets her readers with the taste, recipe included, smells, climate immersing you into her state of Maine.
The plot is clever and keeps the reader guessing as you turn each page.
Lea Wait’s books are great mysteries to warm up during these chilly winter nights.