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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

FIELD OF BONES by J A Jance


FIELD OF BONES  by J A Jance
Joanna is on maternity leave, but her responsibilities as Sheriff keep getting in the way. A group of teenagers find, and then hide, a human skull. When a parent discovers the skull, Joanna’s leave comes to a screeching halt. A serial killer is on the loose. In the meantime, Joanna is reading her long dead father’s diaries and discovering traits she would rather not know. 
Jance writes intelligent mysteries carried by her carefully drawn and fully fleshed out characters. You could read this as a stand alone, but the nuances of plot and character will be better understood if you are familiar with the series. 
5 of 5 stars

Thursday, September 13, 2018

THE WRONG CHILD by Patricia Kay


THE WRONG CHILD  by Patricia Kay

In the midst of a blizzard, in an understaffed hospital and when the only labor and delivery nurse has  a heart attack and dies, two infants are switched.  Years later the awful truth comes out. This tale tells what happens next.

Several startling instances of happenstance and the plot thickens.  The story is interesting. The characters have life to them. The plot is a tearjerker – but then you knew that, right?

There is no foul language. There is one sex scene.  Altogether, not a bad way to spend a lazy afternoon or two.

3 of 5 stars

Monday, September 10, 2018

THE DAISY CHILDREN by Sofia Grant


The Daisy Children  by Sofia Grant
I’m disappointed in this one. I was imagining a treatment of the tragic explosion in a Texas school that killed most of the children in the town of New London 1937. Unfortunately this tale was only superficially about that and much more about a dysfunctional family and the unfortunate choices they made.  The “love” story is barely there, the characters are stock, the story could take in Anytown, USA.
The one redeeming feature is the twist that is revealed in the last few chapters. Is it worth reading the other 300 pages?  I don’t think so.
2 of 5 stars

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

THE GIRL IN THE BLUE COAT by Monica Hesse


THE GIRL IN THE BLUE COAT  by Monica Hesse
A young woman living in Holland during the Nazi Occupation is forced into smuggling and utilizing the Black Market in order to feed her family and friends.  One of her “regulars” asks her to find “the girl in the blue coat” and that is where the mystery begins.  Secrets, betrayals, lost friendships, disappearances, dead lovers and danger on all sides makes this a compelling and tense read.  Everyday life in an occupied city is made real and horrific.
Although billed as Young Adult, this novel will appeal to anyone interested in WWII and the resistance, especially in Holland.
5 of 5 stars

Saturday, August 4, 2018

THE INDIGO GIRL by Natasha Boyd


THE INDIGO GIRL  by Natasha Boyd
In South Carolina in 1736, 16 year old girls were expected to be sweet, compliant and marry well. Eliza Lucas was anything but the normal Low Country girl. She was intelligent, educated and ambitious.  Eliza was left to run to her father’s three plantations while he pursued his military career and jeopardized the family’s wealth and position.
When her family faced financial ruin it was left to Eliza to coerce an arrogant, incredulous male “consultant” and to befriend the family’s slaves to help her discover how to produce indigo dye all while discouraging suitors for her hand (and property).  Her solution – teach the slaves to read (illegal) if they helped her.
Well researched and well written, the 5 years Eliza Lucas Pinckney ran her father’s plantations did not save her family’s lands but did secure South Carolina’s place in world trade and provided the fledgling United States with two astute politicians. Eliza’s actual letters to her friends, father and lawyer are interspersed throughout.
5 of 5 stars

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

THE TWELVE-MILE STRAIGHT by Eleanor Henderson


THE TWELVE-MILE STRAIGHT  by Eleanor Henderson
Oh my, incest, moonshine, sharecropping, KKK, lynching, twins (one white, one black), chain gangs and everything else bad about 1920’s Georgia. It is all here along with a meandering timeline, numerous plots and sub-plots and the “N” word.  If this sounds exhausting – it is.  There is just soooo much going on in this 540 page tome that it is WORK to read it.
There is an interesting and valuable story here. The characters include a moonshining sharecropper with a problematic background, a teenaged daughter and a teenaged live-in black “maid.”  Juke (the sharecropper/moonshiner) hires a black male farmhand. The farmhand has a relationship with both daughter and maid. Daughter has a relationship with the farm owner’s  son that ends badly. Both teens are pregnant. The farmhand is lynched and dragged down the twelve-mile straight roadway to the delight (for a time) of the entire town. The son is accused of the murder and disappears – and that is just the beginning section of the book.
The characters are clearly drawn. The time and place are well defined.  The situations are believable. But the whole thing is sooo long and the time meanders from before to after and back again with no clear delineation.  The final resolutions are clear and satisfying.  Dates at the start of each event would be helpful. A little (a lot?) of editing would help.
3 stars for length and confusing timeline

Monday, July 16, 2018

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE by Karen Witemeyer


MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE  by Karen Witemeyer
Three orphans form their own “family” in turn of the century Texas after a train wreck leaves them alone.  All are “cursed’ in some way. Twelve years after the train wreck finds them settled and succeeding until a stranger appears who wants to cause them harm. 
There is off screen violence toward women and several murders/attempted murders. There is no foul language. The love scenes are limited to kisses.
The main character, Evangeline, is fully developed: the others less so. The place is Texas but could be anywhere. The plot is interesting although the end too convenient and too short, while other parts of the novel drag.  The author tells us – repeatedly – exactly how the characters think and feel.
For the genre – Christian mystery romance – the book is one of the better written and plotted.
3 of 5 stars