Review – Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry

Learning to SwimLEARNING TO SWIM by Sara J. Henry / Crown Publishing / Mystery

Sara J. Henry set the stage for a successful career as an author with the chilling thriller, Learning to Swim. The first line artfully opens the book: “If I’d blinked, I would have missed it.” Troy Chance would have missed a child tossed into Lake Champlain like human garbage and her chance to look at what she believes and what she wants out of life. Would we dive into the frigid lake and swim the long distance with only a hint that the package is a child?

Troy faces a long list of challenges, not the least of which is why no one is looking for a lost child, a child who only speaks French. The athletic men who rent rooms in her house rescue her time and time again, as she plunges into one fractured situation after another, but her determination to protect the child is unrelenting. The unchartered waters of change draw her from her life of peace and quiet in a small Adirondack town and send her across states and country lines, exposing her to the privileged life of the child, Paul. His close-knit family ties and a devoted housekeeper take Troy on a journey into lies and deceit, deception on a large scale and the suspected murder of Paul’s mother.

Tension fills every page of Henry’s fast-paced novel with well-developed characters and settings and artfully crafted prose. A sense of humor in the protagonist always appeals to me, especially in a mystery or thriller. Troy is such a protagonist with the ability to see multiple sides to everything and laugh at herself along the way. Everyone is in danger, and Troy is no exception, driving her to evaluate new and old romantic relationships and the passions of her self-imposed isolated existence.

Troy’s independent personality and life-style coupled with her computer and research skills make her a multi-dimensional protagonist worth following. Her unexpected, maternal attachment to Paul adds a new dimension to her character. Her attachment to Paul—and the danger she faces when she tries to unravel the mystery of his abandonment—force her to evaluate everything she thought true about herself.

Secrets, avarice, relentless foreboding, jealousy, and fear all play key roles in the shocking conclusion. Do not skip a page of this thriller.

This review was provided by Mahala Church for her column Barefoot Reviews in the August edition of The Book Breeze.

Review – A Death in the Small Hours by Charles Finch

51CGPG2iM6L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Another close-knit community is shattered in A DEATH IN THE SMALL HOURS, by Charles Finch (Minotaur, 2012, $14.99), when a series of small incidents turns into a very large murder in the English coiuntryside. Ex-detective turned Member of Parliament Charles Lennox , visiting his uncle in the small village of Plumbley, while preparing his great speech for the opening of Parliament, is called in to investigate what looks like minor vandalism. Windows have been broken, strange notices have been posted on doors, there are odd noises in the night, and then, a strange body turns up! What does all of this have to do with the sudden appearance of forged coins in the neighborhood, or the surly behavior of a recent arrival, whose mistreatment of his wife is a source of gossip for the ladies of Plumbley?  Lennox is diverted from his Parliamentary tasks to find out just what is going on. The answer lies under the floorboards of one of the town’s most venerable businesses.   There are domestic issues afoot, too, and Uncle Frederick has a surprise at the end of the book that will lead Lennox and his family on yet another chase. There’s more to come for Charles Lennox!

Review – 31st Annual Collection of The Year’s Best Science Fiction

THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION 31st Annual Collection / Edited by Gardner Dozois / St. Martin’s Press (July 2014)511Fye8OsRL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

Thirty-two short stories by authors such as Carrie Vaughn, Robert Reed, Alastair Reynolds, Nancy Kress, Ian McDonald, Paul J. McAuley, Damien Broderick, Michael Swanwich, Aliete de Bodard and much more.

This book doesn’t just contain a wonderful collection of sci-fi at it’s best but each story begins with an author background as it sets the stage for the story. There is, sadly, a long list of those we’ve lost in 2013 and early 2014 along with an informative look back at the publishing industry. 

And I have to send out kudos to illustrator Jim Burns for the amazing cover.

I’ve long been a fan of short stories. Each word must move the story forward, something every author should master before they begin a book.

I definitely recommend you add this book to your collection.

YA Sci-Fi Review – A Brand New Address

A Brand New AddressA BRAND NEW ADDRESS Intervenus Volume 1 by Kathleen Rowland / Create-Space Publishing – June 2014 – 4 Stars

This New Adult type story will entertain readers who like traditional sci-fi mixed with romance. Yardley Van Dyke must contend with frozen temperatures on an Earth trapped in a new Ice Age. She promised to see to it that her family continued to eat and that means continuing to operate the greenhouse her mother, now deceased, started. This isn’t a fancy structure. It’s obvious that Yardley must scrap and patch to hold things together and she is unappreciated by those who depend on her, especially her father’s fiancée who wants upward mobility in their dysfunctional society.

Yardley isn’t the only one who tries to save those around her. A childhood friend and companion, Marchand LaFond hunts, fishes and does his best to scrounge food for those who need it, sailing an ice-boat across the frozen lake. It’s hard to believe that these two teens live in what was once California. Of course, the reader roots for the two characters to realize the depth of their feelings for one another. These two heroes certainly deserve to have someone who believes in them. One of the best parts was when Yardley figured out a way to take her dog off planet with her and Marchand proved himself a suitable hero by supporting her in the endeavor. The author does an amazing job of describing the hazards of living on a freezing planet and how it affects not only Yardley and Marchand, but those around them. While some people rise and attempt to do their best to deal with adversity, others take advantage. Yet in an unending winter, it is little wonder that the citizenry want to escape somewhere warmer, i.e. Venus. During the story, the reader learns that Yardley and Marchand have more than one adversary, especially those who are in charge of one of the biggest companies on and off of Earth.

Despite the well-developed characters and the setting, some questions remain. For example, in the beginning Marchand intended to enter a contest to leave Earth. He intended to try to make it to Venus and wanted Yardley’s twin brother to travel with him. Tensions mounted since it was obvious that Yardley should be the one to go – she knew plants, would be able to work with Marchand and longed for adventure while Skeeter seemed more of a home or Earth body. However, it was never fully explained why Skeeter bailed on the trip. In addition, why did Dad’s fiancée accept Skeeter staying with them once Yardley announced her decision? Pinky, the fiancée, made it plain that she wanted Dad to herself. Next, Skeeter had a major crush on one of the girls from the “upper crust” – since she pulled strings to go on the trip to Venus, why didn’t he change his mind and opt back into the journey. Next, the reader learns that BotGen, the evil corporation that owns the US government, has a habit of brainwashing its employees – this isn’t a secret from Yardley or Marchand, so why don’t they suspect that astronauts they rescue from another ship may be infected?

Okay, so this is the first in a trilogy and these questions may be answered in later books. Even with unanswered questions, this was a fascinating read. The scenes on Earth made me shiver and I loved the references to another, earlier time before the Ice Age began. The romance between Yardley and Marchand was sweet, loving and a bit spicy at times so it may be too much for younger readers.

This review was provided by Shannon Kennedy for her column Shannon’s Space in The Book Breeze.  For more of Shannon’s reviews visit:  http://www.thebookbreeze.com/Latest_Issue.php

 

Review – Murder at Honeychurch Hall

MURDER AT HONEYCHURCH HALL by Hannah Dennison / Minotaur Books /  Cozy Mystery

Hannah Dennison has a hit series on her hands, beginning with Murder at Honeychurch Hall, which takes us on a delightful romp through the English countryside and lets us peek inside a grand old estate or, at least, one that used to be grand. The story is a bit slow getting to the plot, but the repartee between mother and daughter makes it worth the wait. Kat is preparing to open an antique shop when her widowed mother, Iris, surprises her with a broken hand, selling the home place, and a move to the countryside. From there, the story is one hilarious, mysterious, unpredictable plot point after another.

As with any good British cozy, the book is filled with characters that are unconventional, eccentric, and just plain fun. Once Iris reveals she has purchased the Honeychurch Hall’s dilapidated carriage house, the game is on. Between the oddball owners of the Hall and their employees, Iris and her neighbors, a full skeleton of secrets is re-assembled throughout the book. Kat stays flummoxed as she tries to solve murder, disappearances, buried treasure, a sarcastic manfriend, her mother’s antics, threats, and you get the idea. A lot happens in this short book, a lot that sets up the series with hopes for what’s to come.

With shades of Jacqueline Winspear, M. C. Beaton, and Anne Perry, Dennison has brought the English cozy into the 21st Century. A good beginning with good settings, good characters with a good age spread, good plot and subplots, good antiques, and an assortment of good nooks and crannies. And to top it off, a good taste of an interesting, smart, and humorous mother and daughter team.

 

This review was provided by Mahala Church for her column Barefoot Reviews in The Book Breeze.  For more of her reviews visit:  http://www.thebookbreeze.com/Latest_Issue.php

Spicy New Releases

Diana Green Dragon Wife TWRP Medium

 

DRAGON WIFE by Diana Green

Spicy Fantasy Romance Released Aug 15 by The Wild Rose Press in ebook and print

 

 

 

 

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JADED by Rhonda Eason

Released July by The Wild Rose Press Spicy Contemporary Women’s Fiction in print and ebook

 

 

 

 

 

STONES by Marilyn Baron

Spicy Contemporary Women’s Fiction Released July by The Wild Rose Press In both print and ebook

New Releases with mild sexual content

 

WOULDN’T IT BE DEADLY by D.E. Ireland

This mystery has mild sexual content and will be released in print and ebook on Sept 23 by St. Martin’s Minotaur

 

 

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QUICKSILVER TO GOLD by Lynn Lovegreen

This YA historical romance has mild sexual content and will be released Aug 21 by Prism Book Group in print and ebook

 

 

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BETRAYED HEARTS by Susan Anne Mason

This Contemporary Inspirational Romance with mild sexual content was released Aug 8 by White Rose Publishing (Pelican Book Group) in print and ebook

 

 

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LAST HOPE ALASKA by Linda Trout

Romantic Suspense with mild sexual content will be released Aug 20th by the Wild Rose Press in ebook and print

 

 

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SHADOW OF THE RAINBOW by Randa Lynne Zollinger

Released Feb 2013 by Createspace a YA with mild content in print and ebook