Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Jane and the Canterbury Tale by Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Canterbury Tale; Being a Jane Austen Mystery by Stephanie Barron --- 307 pages

In this eleventh book in Barron's Jane Austen mystery series, Jane is visiting her brother Edward Knight and his daughter Fanny (Jane's favorite niece), at her brother's principal estate, Godmersham Park in Kent. The location is not far from the cathedral city of Canterbury; indeed the old Pilgrim's Way to Canterbury runs through the Park with a side path leading to the local church.

The tale begins with Jane and her family attending a wedding at nearby Chilham Castle. Mrs.Adelaide Fiske, a widow, is marrying Captain Andrew MacAllister, an officer on the Marquis (and future Duke) of Wellington's staff. A brilliant match for  Adelaide Fiske, and as different from her first husband (a rogue and wastrel) as a man can be. At the height of the festivities, a mysterious man arrives at the door to deliver a gift for the bride: a bag of tamarind seeds. Adelaide is clearly upset but won't say why. The very next day, the mystery man is found shot dead on the Pilgrim's Way. When the dead man is identified as Adelaide's first husband, it becomes a scandal as well as a crime. Even though Adelaide was notified several years ago that Curzon Fiske had died in Ceylon, because he was still alive when she married Captain MacAllister, she could be accused of bigamy, adultery --- and murder. Edward Knight, as magistrate, is called on to investigate (with Jane's clear-eyed assistance). It's up to Jane to discover why Fiske faked his death and then returned to Kent, and who would want to pin his death on Adelaide. A clever and complex plot, a combination of real and fictional characters, all delivered with the closest approximation to Austen's own ironic voice I've ever seen.

Click HERE to read the starred *review from Publishers Weekly

Click HERE to read the review from Kirkus Reviews

Click HERE to read the review from the Denver Post (Barron's hometown newspaper

Click HERE to read about Barron's background research for the book from her blog.


The Chase by DiAnn Mills

The Chase by DiAnn Mills
(Crime Scene: Houston #1)
368 pages / 10 hrs, 26 mins

"To the FBI it's a cold case. To Kariss Walker it's a hot idea that could either reshape or ruin her writing career. And it's a burning mission to revisit an event she can never forget. Five years ago, an unidentified little girl was found starved to death in the woods behind a Houston apartment complex... Enlisting the help of FBI Special Agent Tigo Harris, Kariss succeeds in getting the case reopened. But the search for the dead girl's missing mother yields a discovery that plunges the partners into a witch's brew of danger...

"Drawing from a real-life cold case, bestselling novelist DiAnn Mills presents a taut collage of suspense, faith, and romance..."     --from the publisher

A good idea to use a cold case, but the writing is pretty average.  At times the story was disjointed and I thought maybe I'd missed something.

Monday, October 15, 2018

A Cry from the Dust by Carrie Stuart Parks

A Cry from the Dust by Carrie Stuart Parks - 489 pages

In 1857, a wagon train in Utah was assaulted by a group of militant Mormons calling themselves the Avenging Angels. One hundred and forty people were murdered, including unarmed men, women, and children. The Mountain Meadows Massacre remains controversial to this day--but the truth may be written on the skulls of the victims. 
When renowned forensic artist Gwen Marcey is recruited to reconstruct the faces of recently unearthed victims at Mountain Meadows, she isn't expecting more than an interesting gig . . . and a break from her own hectic life. 

Loved this mystery....face paced and nicely written.

Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber

Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber
352 pages / 10 hrs, 58 mins

"After tragedy strikes, Annie moves in to the summer cottage where her family vacationed when she was a child. Soon Annie finds herself making new friends, even developing a romance with a quiet and mysterious painter. And as she becomes part of the community, Annie learns that the surest way to heal is by making a difference in the lives of those around her."  --from the publisher

A nice story with simple plot lines, unbelievably wonderful characters and a happy ending.  But sometimes that's what I'm in the mood for!  I gave it three stars out of five.

An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris

An Easy Death: Gunnie Rose; Book One by Charlaine Harris --- 306 pages

The idea began with a short story, The Gunnie, which Harris contributed to an anthology. What might have happened if Franklin Roosevelt had been assassinated before he could take office? That's the underlying premise behind the new alternative history trilogy from best selling suspense/fantasy author Charlaine Harris, who describes a broken America, battered by the Great Depression, and people cut adrift from all their old certainties, struggling to survive. The U.S. now consists of:

New Britannia: The original colonies (sans Georgia) have been re-annexed by Britain;.
Dixie: The old South (including Georgia) has reverted to its segregationist past;
The Holy Russian Empire: California and Oregon has been colonized by the Russian Imperial family and their devoted followers, who survived and escaped from the Revolution, with the help of "gregories" or wizards recruited by Rasputin;
New America: A Canadian-controlled portion of the northwestern U.S.
Texoma: A secessioned portion of the southwestern U.S. with few towns and less law on the raw edge of Mexico;
Indian Territory: a swathe of the central/western states reclaimed by the surviving native tribes;

The first novel of the trilogy is An Easy Death,  featuring Lizbeth Rose, an insouciant young  gunnie who is hired by a pair of Russian gregories to help them track down a descendant of Rasputin. It seems there is something in the blood of Rasputin and his direct descendants that can counteract Tsar Alexei's hemophilia.

With all the grit, suspense and action Harris's fans expect, the trilogy has already been optioned for a television series.

Click HERE to read the starred* review from Publishers Weekly.

Click HERE to read the review from Kirkus Reviews.

Click HERE to read a review and preview from Entertainment Weekly.

Click HERE to read an early pre-publication review from Tor.com.

Click HERE to watch an interview with Charlaine Harris from KATU-TV2 in Portland, Oregon.


Copper Beach by Jayne Ann Krentz

Copper Beach by Jayne Ann Krentz - 337 pages

Abby Radwell is a dealer in the paranormal rare books trade.  Her talent has led someone to blackmail her in an attempt to find and unlock a psi-coded paranormal field book.  Now she's working with Sam Coppersmith to try to find the man stalking her and the book.

This is the first in a two part series by Jayne Ann Krentz about the Coppersmith family.  It's also one of her paranormal books not included in the Arcane Society series.  I listened to this on audio and enjoyed it quite a bit. 

Yotsuba&!, v.1-5 by Kiyohiko Azuma

Yotsuba&!, v. 1 by Kiyohiko Azuma - 232 pages
Yotsuba&!, v. 2 by Kiyohiko Azuma - 200 pages
Yotsuba&!, v. 3 by Kiyohiko Azuma - 184 pages
Yotsuba&!, v. 4 by Kiyohiko Azuma - 192 pages
Yotsuba&!, v. 5 by Kiyohiko Azuma - 216 pages

Yotsuba is an energetic, excitable girl that has newly moved to a new town.  She immediately makes friends with the family next door.  This manga series tells everyday stories of Yotsuba, her dad, their friends, and the family next door.  It's a cute, fun series to read.  I absolutely recommend it to everyone.