Friday, September 27, 2019

Poisoned Heart (A Lady Marmalade Mystery Short Story Book #1) by Jason Blacker

Poisoned Heart (Lady Marmalade, #1)Poisoned Heart by Jason Blacker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a 28-page book that launches the short story supplemental series of Lady Marmalade Short Mystery Stories. They are quick reads that relate to the longer series of books in the Lady Marmalade Mysteries.

The second World War 2 is barely behind us and Lady Marmalade, “Fran” to the assembled gathering is attending a mid-afternoon tea hosted by Lady Alys Apleby and her husband, Lord Godfrey Apleby, along with other notables of the area, at their Hampshire estate, Abernathy Castle. The tea party is suddenly disrupted when the housekeeper collapses and dies from an apparent poisoning.

The story is quickly sketched out and gives the first-time reader a brief introduction to Lady Frances Marmalade and a feel for the time and the tone of what the series is like. There are references to earlier cases she’s been involved with and a glimpse of the police representatives with whom she’s previously come in contact. This is really just a taste of what’s to come or maybe a nibble to sustain fans of the series until the next book comes out.

Considering their brevity (the longest is described as 51 pages), their price (all but the first are set at $2.99), and that they’re not in the Kindle Unlimited program, I probably won’t be reading another one. But at 99 cents? A bargain.

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Disciples of Trikaal (Time Travelers #0) by Varun Sayal

Disciples of TrikaalDisciples of Trikaal by Varun Sayal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Unexpected and fresh!

Aru and Nemi were in their seventh year of hard penance to Trikaal Devi, the Goddess of Time, when she awoke in response to their devotions. The men’s goal was to be granted a boon for their long dedication and the goddess did not disappoint. Aru requested he be taught the skill of seeing into the future and the past. Nemi, at first requesting immortality, was denied, so subsequently asked that the goddess teach him to time travel. She immediately whisked them both out of their mortal bodies to a place where time moved at a different pace and where they were schooled for a thousand years on the techniques they’d requested. When they were returned to their bodies mere hours had passed. As a caveat to the goddess granting their wishes the men agreed to their lifelines being tied one to the other: if one died, so did the other. The two men separate and return to their own homes and families with their new gifts.

For Aru, being able to read the future did not mean that anyone would actually believe him, and when he foresaw that the dam near his village was about to break and deluge the area, he tries to warn his neighbors. He and his pregnant wife are publicly scorned and driven out of their home to hide in an abandoned shack far away.

On the other hand, Nemi takes full advantage of his ability to travel to the future and past and inhabited the bodies of wealthy, famous, and privileged people living in the time-slice he selected to visit. He possessed the bodies of great kings and using his new found power and privilege he embarked on reigns of terror, death, and destruction. The power and possibilities turn his mind to evil madness, and fearing Aru might come to harm, Nemi inhabits the body of the king of this own time-slice and imprisons Aru in a jail cell at the palace. Separated from his beloved Rutuja, Aru can only visit her and his newborn son in his time reading visions. But Aru comes up with a plan.

This is a prequel to the Time Travelers series and the author unfolds the exciting backstory of time-demons and time-readers, two creations that are integral to the series. The mythology involved is still pretty new to me so the path the story takes is unexpected and fresh (just as the first two books in the series are.) It is not necessary to read the prequel before beginning the series, I read it after Book 2 and maybe that is why some of the revelations were so enjoyable for me. I highly recommend this story as well as the entire series.

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Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Covenant (After the Fall #3) by Charlie Dalton

Book 3 of the After the Fall series returns the reader to Dr. Beck and what’s going on in "The City." In Book 2, the City had been breached by the Rages as Donny and Jamie’s father, Donald, lay comatose in a hospital bed. Dr. Beck had tricked the boys and their friends, Lucy and Fatty, into getting on the hyper-loop underground transport and sent them to Denver City and the massive cannon and rocket that were built there to fight the Bug spaceship. The children had successfully made it there and had been launched into space enroute to dock with the multi-national Mothership.

Meanwhile, Dr. Beck is just able to lock down his section of the City when Donald starts to come back to consciousness. He works around the clock to heal the former commune leader to the point where they can follow after and be reunited with the children. Beck doesn’t tell Donald the truth that the children are headed to Denver City in order to blast into space to fight the Bugs, and slows their journey to ensure Donald doesn’t talk the kids out of their mission. Beck and Donald arrive just as the rocket launches carrying Lucy, Jamie, Donny, and Fatty to their rendezvous with destiny.

The Covenant is the exciting third book in the After the Fall series by Charlie Dalton and it is great! The plot is a nail-biter all the way and who knows what may come next! I highly recommend this entire series for readers that enjoy the dystopian, end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it books, especially those that enjoy a young adult cast of characters.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Devourers from Suryaksh: Race to the Last Eventuality (Time Travelers #2) by Varun Sayal

After saving the human race from the evil time-demon, Kumbh, in Demons of Time, the first book in the Time Travelers series, Tej returns to his own time (3057 BC) and life with Manu Kumar, the man he loves. But his quiet life is quickly derailed when a Wiccan priestess named Nefe and soldiers attack the ashram where the bodies of the contained time-demons are secured. She next goes to Tej’s village in search of Kuntala, one of the greatest time-readers ever. Tej confronts her and in an attempt to save his village from destruction, he allows himself to be whisked to a time-prison where he is tortured to reveal the whereabouts of the time-reader or their friend, Manika. With the help of Mozeek, another time-demon, Tej escapes the time-prison and finds himself smack in the middle of an alien takeover of Earth by an advanced race from Kuryaksh.

The story that follows is complex and thrilling with elements from Indian mythology, fantasy, and science fiction. Tej is a true heroic figure for our time as he struggles with his conscience as he works to save the human race while working with one of his most hated enemies. Over and over he remains true to his beliefs and ethics. The plot moves quickly and covers a lot of ground. The story is about time traveling so there are some drastic changes in settings possible and that keeps things really multidimensional. Over all, it is just a very good story with a fresh and novel approach. Recommended along with and after reading Book One in the Time Travelers series, Demons of Time.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Death of a Schoolgirl (Book 1 in the Jane Eyre Chronicles) by Joanna Campbell Slan

As one can surmise, Death of a Schoolgirl is a continuation of the Charlotte Brontë classic, Jane Eyre. The year is 1820, and Jane and her husband, Edward Rochester, have just welcomed their first child, a son, Ned, into their lives. Jane is flourishing in her new role as a mother after a tough birth, and Edward is still, slowly but surely, recovering from the grievous injuries he sustained during the fire that killed his first wife and destroyed Thornfield, his ancestral home. They are living on the estate in an old hunting lodge built by one of Edward’s forbearers with a minimal number of staff which includes an aunt from his mother’s side, Mrs. Fairfax, who is standing in as housekeeper.

Adèle Varens, Edward’s ward, and the reason that brought Jane to Thornfield in the first place (originally she was Adèle’s governess), is still in boarding school in London. Various reasons (Edward’s injuries, harsh winter storms, Jane’s confinement, the difficult birth and prolonged recuperation after) have kept Edward and Jane from visiting her at the school for quite a long while, and both sides have depended on a regular exchange of letters to maintain contact until circumstances allow them to be reunited.

Lately though, Adèle’s letters have been “off.” Not only are they quite unlike her usual vibrant missives, they are completely impersonal and appear to be the same communique copied time after time. Concern turns to alarm when the latest letter contains a secret message crying out for help and a scrap of paper which appears to be a threat against Adèle.

Jane and Edward decide that they must go to Adèle immediately to determine if she is really in danger or if it is some drama concocted by an obviously lonely child. Because the injuries to Edward’s remaining eye prevent him from traveling right away, Jane sets off for London alone. She is headed to the home of Edward’s best friend, Captain Augustus Brayton who currently serving in India. Jane is effusively welcomed by his wife, Lucy, who almost overwhelms her with affection and a desire to accept her as her new “sister.”

When in town, Lucy had been a regular visitor at the Alderton House School for Girls, checking in on Adèle for the Rochesters when they had been unable. However, in the past couple of months, a change of superintendent at the school had occurred and Lucy had been denied access to the girl for a variety of shady yet plausible reasons.

Jane sets out for the school herself the morning after her arrival only to be met with chaos at the school: one of the students had been found dead that morning! Jane is surprised to be greeted by the headmistress, an old friend, Miss Nan Miller, a former teacher and later colleague from her days at Lowood. Jane learns that Adèle discovered the dead girl, became hysterical, has been sedated with laudanum, and will most likely sleep until the drug wears off the next day.

Before she can make a decision on how to proceed, she is confronted by the new school superintendent, Mrs. Thurston, who mistakes Jane for the newly arrived German instructor (who has been delayed on the road.) Without being given the chance to set the woman straight, Jane is “dismissed” and rushed out of the school. Later that afternoon, however, Miss Miller turn up on the doorstep where Jane is staying to plead with her to come back to the school as “Miss Eyre” to serve as the temporary German and art teacher until the expected lady arrives. It seems the Bow Street Runners are investigating the death of the student as a homicide, and Jane is needed to help protect some of the young ladies until the murderer is revealed.

I really, really enjoyed this book. I loved the idea of a continuation of Jane and Rochester’s life together and look forward to many more. Jane, as a sleuth and protector, made perfect sense. The look and feel of the original story by Bronte is retained and enlivened by a good story with a lot of action, twists and turns. I highly recommend this book to cozy mystery readers and those that want a glimpse into what might have been had Jane Eyre kicked off a series.