Tuesday, July 30, 2019

A Fire Sparkling by Julianne MacLean

Wonderful story with great characters and all the emotions!

When Gillian Gibbons discovers the man she loves and lives with is cheating on her, she retreats to the Connecticut farmhouse her father and 96-year-old grandmother share. She hasn’t seen her father in over five years and their reunion is somewhat awkward at first but her father is desperately glad to hear from her: he’s uncovered a secret in the attic that might change the meaning of his entire life.

Gram came to this country with her young son, Edward, after the World War II, as the wife of her second husband, Grampa Jack. Her first husband, Theodore Gibbons, a deputy cabinet minister working with Churchill, had been killed in the Blitz along with her sister, April. After his death, Gram and Edward had gone to the country to stay with Theodore’s aristocratic family on their estate. But while doing her part in the war effort, Vivian had met and fallen in love with the American flyer, Jack Cooper, and after the war ended had married him and lived in the farmhouse since then. Or at least that is what Edward and Gillian had always believed.

While Edward was in the attic inspecting the roof, he’d come across his mother’s antique sea chest. The old chest was a familiar item; Gillian had always called it a “treasure chest.”) But, as Edward had examined it, he’d discovered a secret drawer inside with pictures of his mother and a German Nazi officer in Berlin dated only months after her marriage to Theodore. The photos made it clear that the two were very much in love. With so many questions and concerned that he was the son of a Nazi war criminal, he and Gillian decide to talk to Vivian and get some answers.

The story is Gram’s revelation of what the pictures were and what happened in the war. While her son and granddaughter listen, they gradually come to terms with the real history behind their family as well as the other issues in their lives that were keeping them apart. The retelling is an emotional story with lots of action and history and the things people do for love and country.

The author obviously did a lot of research to bring the reader a solid thriller with twists and turns that really held my interest and kept me up reading late into the night. I highly recommend this book to readers of historical fiction.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Pearls and Perjury (Avon Calling! #13) by Hayley

Lucky Episode 13 continues the exciting hunt for the Boudoir Butcher!

Continuing from the previous episode, as Avon Lady extraordinaire, Betty Jones, helps Tilly, one of the girls at Kitty’s Kat House, recover from a sudden fainting spell, she gets glimpses into the girl’s troubling memories of a man, blood, and waking up alone and naked on the docks of New York City. Under questioning, Tilly finally tells Betty that she’s been having black-outs (but admits nothing else and refuses further help.) Betty is convinced Tilly is the Boudoir Butcher that her friend, NYPD Sergeant Jacob Lawrence is hunting. She determines to investigate on her own and find out why Tilly is doing this and why she has no conscious memory of her horrible actions.

Betty also visits Donny Pinzola in his prison cell where he tells her unless she gets back on his team he will reveal all her secret past and unusual posers to the very interested FBI who have had Betty on their radar quite recently.

Jacob Lawrence has his hands full, too, not only with the high-profile Boudoir Butcher case but with Pinzola’s trial. The time has finally come for Adina Sonberg to testify against the crime boss, and it does not go well at all. Pinzola’s attorney totally discredits Adina in front of the jury, her parents, and the entire world.

Meanwhile, on Betty’s home front, her beloved husband, George, is away at military training, and daughter, Nancy, is growing up right before her eyes with the powers handed down in the maternal line getting stronger and stronger every day. Working together, Betty and Nancy practice mind-reading and the ability to shield their thoughts from mind-reading. Both young women realize that, in time, they are going to want their privacy, even from each other.

Lucky Episode 13 advances the exciting hunt for the Boudoir Butcher and gets the trial to put Uncle Donny away for good underway. With the dramatic courtroom shenanigans by his attorney and Donny himself, the suspense increases and the question of whether or not Jacob will be beat Pinzola in the end continue to mount. I can’t wait to get into Episode 14.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Commune (After The Fall #1) by Charlie Dalton

After the world’s society as we know it has been destroyed by a virus which turns its victims into mindless, constantly-hungry zombies, survivors join together in cooperative living communes. Some attempt to rebuild and grow by organizing daily tasks such as growing food, learning and providing medical attention, and provide defense and security for the new communities. Others, known as Reavers, band together to destroy and take what they need from others by force and violence. Both groups, however, guard against the zombie-like creatures called “Ragers.”

In Mountain’s Peak, the commune takes several measures to successfully continue on based on each individual member pulling their own weight. And when a member becomes too ill, old, or infirm to their share, they are expected to leave the community – walk away and disappear into the surrounding desert where wild animals and Ragers lurk.

When a beloved member of the commune leaves to go die in the desert, her younger, still able, husband decides in the middle of night to join her. The next day, children from the commune sneak out to go find them both and bring them back home. Their rescue mission takes an unexpected turn when they discover the older couple already dead and a strange, young girl up a spindly tree under attack from three Ragers.

The commune takes the young girl in but she is unable to tell them where she came from; she remembers nothing but dream-like snippets of her life before waking up in the bed at the commune. But she is actually being hunted by an unstoppable woman across the desert and she’s headed toward the commune.

This story was action-packed from start to finish. I did not want to put it down. Can’t wait for the next book in the series!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Snow (The Mutant Rain #3) by L.A. Frederick

After formulating the barest of plans to save the survivors of “The Bunker,” Farrow, the former New Hampton police detective and his small band of followers return to the city in search of a large truck or bus to take everyone north away from the epicenter of the mutant rain. What they find instead leaves everyone dead except Farrow himself.

It is Benjamin that discovers the old underground train system, still in working condition, and that there is a connection with the commuter line that goes to the north country. The remaining mutants, along with the pregnant Evaline, move their supplies to the train in preparation of departure.

Farrow gets cut off from the rest of the group and he goes in search of Aurora and Isaac. Isaac, however, has been whisked away to Dr. Zhirkov’s stronghold to battle Erica leaving the pregnant Aurora behind to fend for herself. Farrow eventually uncovers her hiding place and convinces her that she and her newborn son should return with him to the mutants’ rendezvous spot to meet the train.

Meanwhile, Zhirkov’s henchmen, Vitaliy and Dmitri, switch sides, rescue a previously unknown group of human survivors and take them to the ready-to-depart train just in time to join in a desperate fight between the mutants and a group of lizard-like creatures and overgrown monsters that are preventing the train from leaving.

All in all, this was a pretty satisfying roundup to all the storylines in the Mutant Rain series. Is there room and opportunity for more in the future? Oh yes. And I hope that this is not the end. I kind of miss those mutants already.

The entire Mutant Rain series is available for Kindle on Amazon.com.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

The Lebesborn Experiment: Book 1 by Joyce Yvette Davis

Set in Europe during WWII, The Lebensborn Experiment tells a story of young children stolen from their parents and taken to state-run orphanages, “graded” like livestock for Aryan traits, and adopted out to approved German families never to see their own families again or their parents ever discovering what happened to them. One boy, Adok, is adopted by Dr. Josef Weiss as a companion to an older, mentally-damaged son. Dr. Weiss is working on an immortality serum under pressure from a Nazi colonel, Otto Strauss, and tests the serum on Adok. The boy dies but days later comes back to life with some remarkable physical enhancements: superior eyesight and hearing, the ability to climb like a spider, and apparent immortality.

At the same facility, Colonel Strauss had been holding two black American soldiers prisoner awaiting execution during an upcoming visit by Adolf Hitler himself. When Strauss receives word of Hitler’s suicide and the approach of Allied forces to the facility, he orders the doctor to dispose of the Americans. Weiss kills one but mistakenly administers the immortality serum to the other. When the soldier revives as his body is being removed from the lab, he escapes and is able to return to his old unit to fight again.

The story continues with these central figures’ stories to just after the end of the war in Europe.

This book is exciting, imaginative, and entertaining but sobering as well with the understanding that many of the things described are based in past happenings. The author has created memorable characters that I really rooted for and others that I wanted to be defeated. The title indicates this is book one giving reason to believe there is more to the story. I’ll be looking for that.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Murder at the Wizard-Hero Con (Pet Portraits Mystery #11) by Sandi Scott

When Georgie Kaye completes a gorgeous portrait depicting a new client’s pet boa constrictor, Hercules, the grateful graphic novelist, Beau Hanbaugh, gifts her with two full-access vendor passes to the big, upcoming comic convention. Always ready to live life to the fullest, Georgie grabs her twin sister, Aleta, and immerses herself in the cosplay, vendor booths of the unusual and exotic, and the exclusive evening vendor reception.

During the reception a bearded man is dragged from the convention hall by security when he begins shouting and ranting that one of the more successful graphic novelists, a nasty character by the name of Cole Ness, had stolen his award-winning work from him! Later, after Georgie spies the bearded man sneaking around the reception again, Cole is found bludgeoned to death in his booth. Of course, the local police, led by Georgie’s ex-husband, Detective Stanley Toon, are called in to investigate, and Georgie can’t help but lend a hand.

Once again, this story of the Kaye sisters and Stan is witty and entertaining. The murder mystery is straightforward, and we can agonize along with Georgie over her confused feelings for her ex. With the reappearance of police crime scene photographer, Maggie Hoffentop, as a rival for Stan’s attention, if not affections, things get really interesting. The real mystery here may be what the future holds for Georgie and Stan. I highly recommend this entire series though this could be read alone and still be enjoyed immensely.

You can find Murder at the Wizard-Hero Con or any of the Pet Portraits Mysteries by Sandi Scott for Kindle on Amazon.com.