Saturday, October 21, 2017

Review: Before the Rain Falls

Before the Rain Falls Before the Rain Falls by Camille Di Maio
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A touching and moving tale of a woman who spends her life in a Texas prison for murdering her sister, and how her tale impacts a reporter looking for redemption and a doctor thrust back into the small town she left behind.

Poignant and shocking, convicted killer Della Lee's tale of love and murder captures the despair of a life with few choices, and offers a glimpse of life behind bars for women in a justice system that cared little for them.

The ending was a touch predictable, but in some ways that added to the enjoyment of seeing how characters lives intertwine and what the future can hold for people brought together by chance and family.

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Review: His Perfect Partner

His Perfect Partner His Perfect Partner by Priscilla Oliveras
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yazmine Fernandez has always believed in "family first", so she's not impressed by busy executive Tomas Garcia's being MIA from his young daughter's father/daughter dance practice. She's got enough on her mind with caring for her ailing father while focusing on trying to get her New York dance career back on track. But the handsome ad exec and his adorable daughter Maria are making it hard for Yazmine to keep focused.

Tomas is hesitant to get involved with dating a woman focused on her career to the exclusion of her loved ones, but Maria needs what the graceful dance teacher can offer...and Maria's father is finding it hard to resist her as well.

Oliveras' debut novel is a sweet tale of family, friendship and making the tough choices, especially when one's in the "sandwich generation", caring for elderly parents as well as seeing to the needs of children. The dynamics of a loving Latino family also pull at Tomas and Yazmine, and readers will find a lot to enjoy in this new series.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Review: An Echo of Murder

An Echo of Murder An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another gripping William Monk tale had me guessing whodunnit until the very end. There were suspects, but bringing the facts together took a team, and that's part of what made this story work. It wasn't just Hester and Monk, it was Monk's assistant detective, Hopper, Crow the surgeon, attorney Oliver Rathbone and Scruf.

Some of them are the usual players in this series, but we also got enough new characters to add interest and zip. A damaged doctor from Hester's service in the Crimean war...some long-lost relatives, and the growth of mudlark Scruf into "Will Monk", an apprentice physician who took on his mentor's name, but not his profession as a police officer.

As usual, I look forward to more Monk mysteries from Ms. Perry.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Review: An Echo of Murder

An Echo of Murder An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another gripping William Monk tale had me guessing whodunnit until the very end. There were suspects, but bringing the facts together took a team, and that's part of what made this story work. It wasn't just Hester and Monk, it was Monk's assistant detective, Hopper, Crow the surgeon, attorney Oliver Rathbone and Scruf.

Some of them are the usual players in this series, but we also got enough new characters to add interest and zip. A damaged doctor from Hester's service in the Crimean war...some long-lost relatives, and the growth of mudlark Scruf into "Will Monk", an apprentice physician who took on his mentor's name, but not his profession as a police officer.

As usual, I look forward to more Monk mysteries from Ms. Perry.

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Review: Seven Stones to Stand or Fall

Seven Stones to Stand or Fall Seven Stones to Stand or Fall by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

[disclaimer--I'm in the acknowledgements for assistance with the story Virgins in this collection]

Seven Stones to Stand or Fall will be enjoyed by Outlander fans who like the broader story, tales about the secondary characters--Ian Murray, Lord John Grey, Lord John's family, Roger Mackenzie's family and more. Lord John in particular has his own side collection now of mysteries he solves in his travels in the British Army, and I find those stories especially enjoyable. John's a good detective.

Most of these have been reprinted in other collections, but it's a pleasure to have them all together to be enjoyed again.

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Review: A Conspiracy in Belgravia

A Conspiracy in Belgravia A Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I believe what I'm enjoying most about his series is its focus on the restraints on women's lives in the 19th c., particularly married women, women of the middle classes, unwed women living at home, and women without their own resources. In addition to all that, there's an intriguing mystery to solve, fun cryptography, and almost obscene descriptions of pastries.

Charlotte Holmes is a fallen woman who investigates mysteries both criminal and domestic. She does this through an elaborate ruse involving her fictitious brother, "Sherlock Holmes", aided by her companion, Mrs. Watson and various other individuals, supportive or otherwise.

We see some characters from the first novel return, there's an intriguing marriage proposal ideally suited to Charlotte, and a set-up for the next mystery. I look forward to seeing more in this series and encourage readers to start with the first Lady Sherlock novel, A Study in Scarlet Women.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Review: Blood Enemies

Blood Enemies Blood Enemies by Susan R. Matthews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Andrej Koscuisko is living a life of practicing surgery and making reparations for his work as Fleet Medical Officer for the Jurisdiction. But when he leaves his safe haven to help his former staff he finds himself in the middle of a terrorist genocidal war. Worst of all, his skills as the most qualified Ship's Inquisitor--torturer for the Jurisdiction--will be brought back into use, and it could cost him his sanity and the lives of his loved ones.

This latest installment in the Under Jurisdiction series wraps up a number of storylines from earlier novels, and gives some resolution to characters like Andrej. It's unflinching in its exploration of Andrej's need to inflict pain, the monster inside him he's worked so hard to overcome, but Matthews delivers a solid story. Many readers couldn't get past An Exchange of Hostages, the first book exploring Andrej's in the Fleet, but for fans of the series it's a satisfying conclusion to Andrej's role.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Review: The Wicked City

The Wicked City The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting book but I'm ambivalent about reading more in this universe. There are loose ends, characters who walk on-and-off scene and some great historical detail. Part of the problem may be my coming to it in a roundabout way, having read Cocoa Beach first.

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Post-#Irma Update

The storm passed over us in the pre-dawn hours. We hunkered down (Dodi the dachshund too) in an interior room with all of our "Go!" supplies and flashlights but we were extremely fortunate. We're still getting gusts and I fear our trees are weakened from all the water and wind, but if nothing falls on the house we should get through this without trauma.

I cannot say enough about the crew at @FloridaStorms who have been broadcasting non-stop since this all began. They're based at WUFT.org, the multi-media operation at my alma mater, the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. I'm a former radio news director and station owner and I know how difficult and how vital radio is at a time like this. The mainstream media is who I trust in an emergency.

This is also the time when you are glad you have a strong and capable state and local government. And NOAA. And FEMA. And all the blessed first responders. One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.: "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society."

My taxes helped buy me security and peace of mind and I don't begrudge a penny of them.

In addition, it's important to know your neighbors and to support one another. We've been texting, checking on one another, offering support and electricity for those without power. Thank you, neighbors for being there for one another.

We'll get through this together. We're Floridians and we may seem crazy to the rest of the world, but we pull together in a crisis. That's #FloridaStrong!