Book Review: Death on a Dacron Sail by Noelle Granger

Death in a Dacron Sail (Rhe Brewster Mysteries Book 2)

Death in a Dacron sail is the type of book I love to read. It’s the second installment of the Rhe Brewster series. Read my review of Death in a Red Canvas Chair, the first in the series, posted a few months ago.

The plot of Death in a Dacron Sail is again tightly woven with plenty of forensic information given by our nurse and amateur sleuth narrator. This time Rhe is helping with an unpleasant crime involving a missing child. There is plenty of fast-paced action and suspense, in spite of the idyllic small town location, and there are many surprises and twists, making it a gripping page turner.

It’s also very well written. The prose flows so smoothly that it is a pleasure to read.

Dacron

However, the very best part of this novel is the characterization. Readers won’t be interested in a good plot and wonderful writing if they can’t engage with the characters. Detective, crime thrillers, and mysteries often run the risk of being plot driven in detriment of character development, but that’s not the case here. On the contrary, the reader will love Rhe, because she is clever, and generous, and caring, but she’s also naïve, sometimes insecure, and others too patient with people who just don’t deserve it! I’ve wanted to tell her to be careful with someone who’s close to her since book one (no name so no spoilers!), and to stand up to her bullying boss! The other characters, both good and bad, are also so real they almost jump out of the page to watch you reading!

I know that now that she’s solved the present mystery, she’ll be involved with another riveting case shortly, but I’m just as interested in finding out how she sorts out her personal predicament, and the direction her personal life will take in book three.

By the way, just in case you were wondering, it can be read as a stand-alone novel, because the cases are independent, and although the main characters are the same, there is enough background information for readers to feel comfortable reading book two alone or first.

Noelle Granger

Noelle Granger

 

Death in a Dacron Sail is N. A. Granger’s second novel.

I asked  Ms. Granger to tell us a little more about Rhe, my favourite police consultant.

My main character, Rhe Brewster, is an Emergency Room nurse, which allows me to bring in medical knowledge, along with a healthy dose of anatomy from her friend, Marsh Adams, the assistant Maine State ME. Rhe is smart, daring, and has what I have called a yen for adrenaline, a not always good mix when she’s in the middle of an investigation.  She tends to leap before looking, which is why she gets herself into challenging situations.  However, she’s intelligent enough to get herself out!  I also wanted to give her a family life, one that many women could relate to: an occasionally prickly relationship with her husband Will (a lot more of that in Death in a Dacron Sail) and a loving relationship with Jack, her son, who is ADHD. MY son is ADHD, and more of that will figure into later books.

I also asked her why she writes crime fiction, and this is what she told me.

I like to write crime fiction because the scientific nature of it fascinates me – brings my background in anatomy and medicine and research together in one package. I also love doing the research for my books. I meet all sorts of people, all of whom have been very open to helping me understand their areas of expertise. I am an extrovert by nature, so this is great for my psyche.

Watch out for N. A. Granger’s  great Blog SaylingAway. 

Check it out on Amazon US or Amazon UK

Book Launch! Don’t Forget to Breathe by Cathrina Constantine

Today it’s my pleasure to take part in another Book Launch. I’d like to introduce you to Cathrina Constantine’s new  novel Don’t Forget to Breathe.

Blurb for Don’t Forget to Breathe by Cathrina Constantin:

Sixteen-year-old Leocadia arrives home from school to find her mom’s bloody body. Unaware that the killer still lingers, she rushes to her mother’s side, only to be grabbed from behind and then everything fades to black.

After a year of retrograde amnesia and battling personal demons, Leo’s dreams are getting worse—she’s starting to remember. More bodies are discovered and they seem to be oddly linked to her mom’s unsolved homicide.

When Leo allows her friend, Henry to drag her into the haunted Lucien Mansion, misty ghosts appear, ghosts that just might lead to her mother’s murderer.

Will Leo let her memories threaten her into a relapse or, will she fight to find her mother’s killer – only to become his next victim?

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Author Bio:

Cathrina Constantine resides in Western New York with her husband, five children, two Labrador Retrievers and two cats. Author @BlackOpalBooks & @CHBB_Vamptasy.

Her current books: WICKEDLY THEY COME, WICKEDLY THEY DREAM, TALLAS, And her newest novel from @CHHB_Vamptasy DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE.

When not with her family or stationed at the computer writing, you will find her walking in the backwoods with her dogs, conjuring up a new tale.

Constantin

Contact or find out more about Cathrina Constantine:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wickedly333
Blog: http://cathrinaconstantine.blogspot.com
Twitter: @cathconstantine

My Review of Don’t Forget to Breathe by Cathrina Constantine (4 Stars)

Finding your mother’s dead body, and realizing you saw and heard her murderer, although you can’t remember anything, is enough to devastate anyone, but especially our young heroine, Leocadia, who has grown into a confused and traumatized adolescent.

In addition, her father’s neglectful attitude to parenting (he obviously has his own problems), and her lack of any supportive adults, leads her to make some questionable decisions which will put her in danger, and even face to face with her mother’s killer.

She learns the hard way that her parents were not the ideal people she had envisaged in her childhood, and also comes across some destructive characters at her school, although fortunately she has some caring friends, too.

I had a hard time understanding the things Leo did, and how she coped, wanting to shout at her too many times! On the other hand, I really cared and worried about her and wanted to know what would happen.

This novel is well-written, engaging and exciting, and there are some suspenseful moments when everyone seems guilty of her mother’s murder. There are also some spine-tingling scenes in the cemetery and a haunted house.

I don’t usually read YA novels, in fact, this is the first one I’ve read in a long time. I felt sorry for the young people for seemingly not having much support or understanding from their elders. As an adult, I would have liked to have been able to identify or sympathise with an adult character.

On the other hand, the characters and events are convincingly portrayed, it’s entertaining, exciting, and has some paranormal and gripping moments, and I’m sure young adults will identify with Leo’s issues and enjoy this novel.

Amazon US link

Amazon UK link

Book Review: Unequal Affections by Lara S. Ormiston

Unequal Affections is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice. It’s also one of the most beautiful, engrossing, and haunting books I’ve read. It’s clever, original, and enthralling.

You all know how much I love novels both set in and written in the 19th century, and you also know I’m especially fond of character-driven novels, well, this is the most obsessively perfect character-driven novel I’ve read in a long time!

Unequal Affections

Unequal Affections has very little by means of a plot, and there is very little action. On the other hand, the outcome is no surprise; we all know that Elizabeth married Darcy in the end! Yet, in spite of it all, this is a compelling, unputdownable read. I relished every chapter, every page, and every word, and I’ll no doubt be reading it again, because it’s a book to be savoured slowly and repeatedly.

I was never Jane Austen’s greatest fan, and one of the reasons why I prefer contemporary renderings of Jane Austen’s works, is because she never got inside her characters’ heads. It is true that she portrayed her characters through ample conversation and actions, but to my post-Freudian mind, I really miss getting inside the characters’ minds, and understanding why they say and behave the way they do. It’s probably my fault. I may lack imagination, or knowledge of the era, but I need the characters to tell me why.

Another fabulous aspect is how the author gets inside both their minds with equal balance. It would have been easy to give a one-sided account of how Elizabeth feels, with some hints at Darcy’s predicament. Some may argue that this is what Jane Austen did herself. However, the author gets into Darcy’s mind just as easily and convincingly as he gets into Anne’s, which is no easy feat, as his point of view is far more difficult to both ascertain and convey.

The best part is how both characters evolve in just a month their courting lasts, and even better is how the reader also evolves with them. I felt I saw all the characters in a new light, because although we are given Elizabeth and Darcy’s points of view, we are given insights to all the other characters, too, such as Elizabeth’s supposedly ‘awful’ mother, who finally seems far less awful to Darcy, and so to the reader.

When I finished, I felt as if I had been abducted. I felt I had been transported through a time-tunnel into Elizabeth and Darcy’s lives two hundred years ago. I was an invisible visitor, following them around, and impatient to know what would happen next. When I came back to January 2015, I wondered melancholically how marriage and relationships between men and women had changed so much. If romantic love and how it comes about and evolves can be explained, this novel comes very close to doing so.

By the way, there must be a sequel. I hope Lara S. Ormiston writes one, because I need to go back and see how they coped with the challenges their marriage would no doubt face.

If you’ve read Pride and Prejudice, you’ll love it. If you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice, you’ll love it, too. If you love historical romance, you’ll love it. If you love novels that deal with relationships between men and women, within and between families, you’ll love it. If you love psychological dramas, you’ll love it, too.

If you’re a Jane Austen fan, or if you like 19th century novels, or historical romance, see my review of Captain Frederick Wentworth’s Persuasion by Regina Jeffers, another fabulous retelling of a Jane Austen novel.

Book Review: The 20’s Girl, the ghost, and all that jazz, by June Kearns

I really loved this novel. It draws you in from page one with the setting, writing style, love story, and hint of humour.
It was easy for me to love it, because it has all the elements I enjoy as a reader.

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Firstly, I’m especially attracted to historical novels, and it is set in the past, specifically in the 1920s, as the title informs us, so we are able to glimpse at these challenging post-war years, during which the human loss of sons, brothers, husbands, and boyfriends, was enhanced by the drear financial situation.

Secondly, there are two spectacular and contrasting settings to experience, the fertile, green and rainy English countryside, with its polite and quaint inhabitants and lifestyle, and an isolated, hot and dry Texan ranch, with rough cowboys!

Thirdly, it is romantic, and I can’t resist a good, historical romance. However, this romance is not your typical instant love affair. It includes a long drawn-out courtship, with plenty of ups and downs and twists and turns between Gerry and Coop, and of course, the ghost!

Fourthly, the ‘ghost’ is cleverly, and convincingly, wound into the story from the beginning. Gerry’s singular aunt, Leoni, is ever-present. She brings them together after her death by means of her will, and spurs them on through wafts of her perfume, and the help of a cat…

The fifth reason I loved this book was due to the well-drawn and loveable characters, especially Gerry. I was really worried about what would come of her with her ruined book shop and disastrous financial situation, in which she was almost compelled to marry the wrong person out of desperation.

Again we have a Byronic hero, but he is from Texas (that’s why I’ll call him a Byronic-Texan hero!), who is mysterious, moody, undecipherable, intense, rich, and magnanimous. I already told you in a previous post why I love Byronic heroes, who cares if they’re Texan!

It’s no spoiler to say that it is a happy ever after ending, because as we all know, in a character driven romance, such as this novel, we presume a happy ending, the thrill of reading is precisely how the characters deal with conflict, and how this ending is eventually reached.

Although it’s no easy ride, you will not be disappointed! It’s a delightful novel that will make you laugh, and bite your nails, and worry, and believe in mischievous ghosts and of course, love.

Five stars because the humour, romance, historical, and paranormal aspects are carefully wound into a riveting tale which is delightful and unputdownable.

The 20’s Girl, the ghost, and all that jazz on Amazon US

The 20’s Girl, the ghost, and all that jazz on Amazon UK

Check out June Kearns Amazon page and watch her video about how she writes.

Book Review: How to Climb the Eiffel Tower by Elizabeth Hein

How to Climb the Eiffel Tower is the type of novel that makes you feel alternately sad and optimistic, as well as angry and hopeful. Overall it’s a celebration of life, of courage, and of second chances.

 

Eiffel Tower

 

At the beginning of the novel, Lara Blaine is an unlikeable loner. We soon learn that she is desperately trying to forget her traumatic childhood by hiding behind her perfectly organised and monotonous life, in which there is no room for close contact with anyone.

Lara is emotionally scarred, and seems to dislike or distrust everyone she interacts with. She has built an emotional wall which makes her appear to be the unfriendly, sneering colleague nobody likes to have.

As the novel progresses, her emotional scars start to heal as her physical illness gradually gives her a new perspective on life. The emotional bond she creates with Jane and her family is believably developed and truly touching.

It’s a character driven novel, in which we experience Lara’s personal conflicts and the relationships she has with other characters.

On the other hand, it is not a one-dimensional story about Lara. There is also a carefully spun plot which advances throughout the novel and revolves around her workplace, her routines, her illness, and the people she meets as a result of her treatment.

For me, How to Climb the Eiffel Tower is about empowerment. Lara needs to consciously own her own life, and open her eyes and her heart to the world. In her case, it happened through her experience as a cancer patient.

As a result, she’s finally able to face life with renewed confidence. It’s a new beginning for Lara because she’s on her way to finding inner peace, friendship, love, and professional satisfaction, too.

It’s also very well written, with a smooth prose which makes it a pleasure to read. Well worth Reading.

Five out if five stars.

Get it on Amazon.co.uk

Get in on Amazon.com

Elizabeth Hein

I met Elizabeth Hein a year ago on Goodreads, just after starting my own (belated) career as an author. She had already written and published her first novel, Overlook, so she was able to give me invaluable help and advice on my own writing. See my review of Overlook.

When she wrote her second novel, she was kind enough to send me an ARC to read and review. I must admit I’ve taken a long time to get around to reading it, although as soon as I started reading, it was so good that I finished it in a matter of days!

I’ll admit it. At first, I was afraid to read How to Climb the Eiffel Tower. I put it off because I was a coward for two reasons.

Firstly, I shamelessly admit that 80% of my reading is purely for pleasure. I love being transported to fictional worlds, where I’m absorbed by events taking place in other people’s lives. I don’t mind a bit of tension, but I’m not too keen on suffering while I read. I occasionally like to be shocked or shaken out of my complacency, but not too often. I know Elizabeth is a cancer survivor, and I knew this novel was about cancer patients, and I’m ashamed to admit that I was reluctant to face the pain of cancer. Also, I thought it might be a ‘tear jerker’. As I’ve explained in my review, I’m pleased to say I was completely wrong.

Secondly, I consider Elizabeth as a virtual/cyber friend, and as with any of my friends, I wouldn’t like to hurt her feelings by not liking her novel. Again, I was an idiot. I already knew she was a good writer, I should have trusted her. I should have known it would be a good novel. Well, it surpassed my expectations: It’s an amazing novel.

Read it!

 

Book Review: The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

A Well-Researched, Character-Driven, Victorian Romance

I loved this novel for two reasons: the main characters are original and believable and the plot is well-researched and engrossing.

Duchess War

Minnie is adorable, and there is so much more to her than first meets the eye. She is very intelligent, cognitively as well as emotionally. She is beautiful, but scarred, physically and psychologically, although she gradually overcomes most of her insecurities as the novel progresses.

The same is true for the male lead, Robert, The wealthy and influential Duke of Clermont. A complex and wounded character, who is burdened with someone else’s guilt.

It is not a love story dominated by two characters. There are many more, believably portrayed, and we really get to know what makes them all tick.

Minnie and Robert’s love story has plenty of dramatic and unexpected ups and downs as they are constantly up against seemingly impossible situations, which they are eventually able to overcome through understanding and forgiveness.

There’s also a very realistic and unusual plot, dealing with social and political issues, as well as scientific advances, all in keeping with real events taking place in the Victorian era.

I love well-researched and well-written, historical romances. It is a lot more than just a love story, and there’s a great deal of work involved in writing historical novels, as well as the author’s creativity.

I know because I also write Victorian fiction, and although I find it liberating to write in another time-frame, I also find it requires a great deal of hard work to immerse the reader in another distant, world.

You can be sure that this novel will transport you smoothly on an unforgettable journey to another time and place: early Victorian England.

I was lucky enough to download a free copy, so I’d also like to thank the author, Courtney Milan for her generosity, and although it’s definitely worth paying for, it’s free at the moment, so what are you waiting for to download it?

US link

UK link 

 

Book Tour: To Fall in Love Again by David Burnett

It’s a real pleasure to take part in this Book Tour organised by Brook Cottage Books and introduce you to author David Burnett and his third novel To Fall in Love Again.

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My most treasured moments are the hours I’m able to spend in a comfortable chair with my Tablet and Kindle App engrossed in an absorbing story. Although I enjoy all types of novels, especially mystery, thrillers, historical, women’s and literary fiction, I have a weakness for romance and character driven novels. I’m interested in reading about people and how they feel, make decisions, cope with life’s conflicts, grow emotionally, and develop lasting relationships.

To Fall in Love Again is one such novel. It’s a novel about how people meet and fall in love, and the conflicts which inevitably arise as relationships progress. No couple is an island, and Drew and Amy have a background, a family, friends, and neighbours which influence how they relate to each other.

To Fall in Love Again Banner

Most love stories portray beautiful and forceful, young protagonists, who are usually struggling to make their way in life professionally, often with a view to eventually having children, and setting up a family. To Fall in Love Again is different. It’s about two middle-aged characters who have had a family, and lived through a first courting, marriage and children. In fact, they are two widowed young grandparents, in their fifties, who meet quite by chance and fall in love.

They have no time to lose, but they are also level-headed, mature adults, who seem to know what they want, and are in control of their lives. However their idyllic first encounters are soon disturbed by conflict deriving from the rest of the characters they are involved with, such as children, friends, and colleagues, who have very diverse backgrounds and expectations, and are often annoyingly interfering.

The novel is about how Drew and Amy meet, fall in love, and overcome the challenges their relationship faces. It’s also about relationships between various generations; adult children and their parents, as well as grandparents and grandchildren. It’s about trust, deceit, misunderstandings, meddling gossips, social prejudice, and how these aspects invade their lives and almost ruin their chance of happiness. It’s also about second chances, forgiveness, and the value of love, friendship and trust, as paths to happiness and fulfilment.

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It’s a novel which takes you up and down with the characters’ emotions, but finally, you feel optimistic and happy when you finish reading, because although it wasn’t easy, Drew and Amy made it. This isn’t a spoiler, because readers know this is a HEA, romantic novel. Readers will not be concerned with the outcome itself, but with how the expected outcome finally occurs.

I enjoyed the setting, too. I felt as if I was walking along the streets of Charleston with Drew and Amy, and learnt about some of the social and cultural aspects of this beautiful city, which I have not yet visited.

To Fall in Love Again is a love story about authentic characters who are offered a second chance of happiness. It  is very well written, and is easy, pleasant, and satisfying to read on a cosy winter evening.

I’d like to thank the author and Brook Cottage Books for giving me the chance to read and review this novel and take part in this Book Tour.

DAVID BURNETT
David Burnett lives in Columbia South Carolina, with his wife and blue-eyed cat, Bonnie. He has two daughters and three grandchildren, and enjoys traveling, photography, baking bread, and the Carolina beaches. He has a degree in psychology and education, and was formerly director of research for his state education department.

More information about the author:
http://davidburnett.yolasite.com
http://davidburnettsbooks.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/David-Burnett-Author/447290468681693?ref=hl

Amazon US link.

Amazon UK link.