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One True Place

By Margaret Cunningham

Black Lyon Publishing: Coming June 15, 2010

When her husband, successful Orthodontist Burkett Cowley, dies suddenly in his office one bright summer morning, True Cowley is stunned. But becoming an unexpected widow is only the beginning of unpleasant surprises. When it comes to light that Burkett’s gambling debts have left her near penniless, True takes advantage of a free burial plot in their mutual birth place of Belle Hill, Alabama. True left Belle Hill as a child of four, after her mother’s accidental drowning death, and has not been back since. But when she returns for her husband’s funeral, True finds herself inexplicably drawn to the town and the family secrets it harbors. Shortly after the funeral, True sells her Florida home and returns to Belle Hill for good.

She is soon befriended by eccentric octogenarian, Maisy Downey, and Maisy’s handsome- beyond-belief nephew, Jackson Bean. The pair promises to aide True in her quest to understand the mother she never knew. But in her search for her roots, True uncovers more questions that must be answered and issues she must come to terms with if she is to resolve the past and move ahead into the bright, happy future that is offered. 

I enjoyed this story tremendously. True Cowley is a flawed but loveable character who I could sympathize with and cheer for with each turn of the page. I loved the interaction between her and Jackson and the way the romance developed slowly and sweetly. I also enjoyed the touching relationship True shared with her grandchildren. Having also enjoyed the author’s debut novel, Lily in Bloom, I was excited to return to southern Alabama and reconnect with some of the characters from that first book. The author’s skillful descriptions, both of people and setting, seemed to transport me into this charming village filled with unusual people and beautiful flora.

Margaret Cunningham writes with humor and grace, weaving a tale that is filled with romance and surprises. One True Place offers its readers so many things — romance, mystery, and a lovely story of a woman’s quest to reconcile herself with her past. I recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a light, humorous, Southern love story.

— Honeybee

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Forever in Her Dreams

by Tika Newman

Thistlewood Publishing 2009

Website: http://www.thistlewoodpublishing.com

Buy Link: http://shop.thistlewoodpublishing.com/Forever-in-Her-Dreams-102.htm

ISBN 978-0-9821507-1-9

 Forever in Her Dreams by Tika Newman picks right up where The Eyes of Innocence left off. Book one in the series ended with readers wondering where Toniya came from. Who would give a stranger a horse? How did the horse from Lina’s dreams appear in her yard? Readers quickly get reacquainted with the characters they enjoyed in the first book and soon get some answers. As the story continues, readers journey along with Kalina as she makes a place for her new horse in her life. She doesn’t know it at first, but the horse will lead her down a path to her past. She will gain information about her heritage and her unique abilities. Readers pick up on her special way with animals as they read of her gentle nature and various healings. She is not limited to helping animals. When needed she also uses her healing powers to help people. Although Lina’s power is not typical and the events surrounding the healings are out of the ordinary, the author’s vivid descriptions and interesting presentations make them believable. Many authors focus on the negative stereotypes when presenting a minor culture. Whether true or fictional this author presents traditions and healing power in a way that doesn’t degrade the Gypsy culture. While the characters are described as very poor and old fashioned, it is refreshing to see this people group portrayed as peaceful, helpful and out to do good.

Kalina is a special girl trying to live a typical teenage life. She longs to fill her life with animals, friends, school and family activities. At times the pull to help is too strong to resist. She and her family know what it’s like to uproot and move just when they are settling into a new community. They are often forced to relocate when the secret is in danger of being revealed. Lina tries to think and act like other teens, but her love for animals leads her to make some interesting decisions. She tries to be cautious when it comes to strangers but her strong desire to help others leads her to risk it all in times of greatest need.

Cory, the older and charming neighbor boy, Marnie, her best friend, Aunt Jessie, Uncle Jeff, a host of pets and many schoolmates return in book two. New characters also appear in this sequel. The most interesting are Kalina’s grandparents, Stela and Todor,. As Lina learns who they are and how they have helped her at various times in her life, she also learns more truth about Aunt Jessie and how she came to be with her adoptive family. She learns how Toniya came to her. The more she learns of her past, the more she wonders how it will fit with her present. Will Aunt Jessie and Uncle Jeff accept her heritage? Will they believe her grandparents are who they say they are? Will they stick by Kalina even when she goes against their advice? Will her best friend Marnie think she is crazy if she reveals her heritage? Will her neighbor Cory get scared away as he starts to piece together what she can do with her powers? So many questions and once again they will not all be answered by the time readers turn the last page of book two.

Pearl believes the author is developing as a writer as she works on this series. This book is just as innocent and wholesome as book one, but it contains deeper insight into the characters, clearer scene descriptions and more realistic dialogue. This novel is a great follow-up to The Eyes of Innocence. The day-to-day life of an animal loving teenager is woven among the threads of mystery and magic that surround the main character. Kalina will continue to intrigue readers with her secret powers. This book is unusual in nature, but easy to follow. It answers many of the questions left when The Eyes of Innocence ended. Reader’s still don’t know the whole story though. The saga will continue when the third book Window to Her Soul is released later this year.

–Pearl

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Executive Lunch

Maria E. Schneider

Kindle Book

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002M3FL16

Nov 9, 2009

Author Blog: www.BearMountainBooks.com

Sedona O’Hala is an ordinary gal making a living working for a successful but ordinary computer company called Strandfrost. She works in a testing lab, reviewing software, testing computer programs and leading a non-glamorous life. After outwitting three thugs that tried to attack her and a coworker she gets the attention of the corporate board and thus blunders into an undercover assignment. In one jump she goes from a lab worker struggling paycheck to paycheck to a ladder climbing company executive. With this new assignment she is given the chance to live every girl’s dream. She is set up in a luxury apartment with a new wardrobe and a fancy car. She can have what she wants and it’s all paid for. Does it sound too good to be true??? Nothing comes without a price – right? The new lifestyle won’t last forever and while living it she has to try and figure out who is dipping into company funds. She is hired to find out who is stealing from the company and she must find out before the criminals realize anyone is onto them or that their secret computer program is being debugged.

Sedona vows to play her part convincingly as she tries to get information on missing computer equipment and hacked programs. She isn’t always sure if she is dealing with company insiders embezzling money or serious criminals after something more. If she fails, she could lose her job or maybe even her life. While solving one puzzle, others crop up. For a time there seems to be danger and betrayal all around. In the end there is more than one crime to solve and Sedona finds herself in a few dangerous situations.  Along with the danger comes a hint of romance, strengthened friendships, family secrets and personal growth. The author shares ups and downs, frustrations and humor as she describes the escapades of Sedona’s double life. 

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this book by self-published author Maria E. Schneider. I work from home and I’ve never been in the corporate world. Mysteries aren’t my favorite genre and I’ve never been much into sleuth capers. So, why did I even decide to read this book? I took a peek at Maria’s blog and online postings at bearmountainbooks.com. After a little reading there I felt like I knew her and wanted to give her book a chance. She is down to earth and realistic. She isn’t expecting her works to be on Oprah’s next book list but rather is writing for the enjoyment it brings to her. She wants to share stories to bring enjoyment to others. I felt that was worth giving her book a read.  It took me a few chapters to settle in and enjoy the characters. The opening scene put me in the middle of drama and action before I knew who the characters were. However, as the book went along and I got to know the characters I enjoyed the mystery solving and appreciated the opening scene more.

There are several characters readers will like and some they will despise. While a few scenes were a bit of a stretch for me and a few dragged along, overall the author presented a believable corporate setting with realistic office banter and a touch of corruption that can seep into any company.  Sedona is witty, smart, and seemingly fearless in the face of danger. The author did a nice job tying up the loose ends in Executive Lunch while leaving open many possibilities for new story lines with this leading lady should she choose to write a sequel.

This is an inexpensive, lighthearted, action filled story that I recommend if you like mystery, humor, and believable characters. As you read you will be given bits of information along the mystery-solving trail. You may think you know whodunit or what is coming next but then again, you may just be surprised.

–Pearl

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2ndChance-JamesPatterson2ND CHANCE

James Patterson with Andrew Gross

(c) 2002 Little, Brown and Company

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/2nd-Chance-Womens-Murder-Club/dp/0446696633

 

I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about the Women’s Murder Club series by James Patterson and company, so when I came across 2ND CHANCE, the second book in the series, at a used book sale, it seemed the perfect opportunity to see for myself what the Women’s Murder Club was all about.

The story opens with a horrific tragedy – a shooting spree at a church in a low-income San Francisco neighborhood which claims the life of an eleven-year-old black girl. As homicide detective Lindsay Boxer sorts through the wreckage of what appears to be a racially-motivated hate crime, a second shooting occurs, tearing the city wide open. With the political powers that be putting pressure on the police department, Lindsay decides she is going to need a little help from her friends; Claire Washburn, the city’s medical examiner, newspaper reporter Cindy Thomas, and Jill Bernhardt, Assistant District Attorney. As these four brilliant minds begin to piece together the clues, it becomes clear that the crimes are not just a racially-motivated killing spree, but part of the chillingly calculated agenda of a madman.

I have to say that so far every good thing I have heard about the Women’s Murder Club series is true. The premise is delightful – a city’s best and brightest women working together to get the job done. But far from being Superwomen, Patterson shows his readers just enough of the girls’ private lives and struggles to make them endearing and most of all, utterly human. The chapters are short and sharp, with most under five pages in length, making for quick and easy reading and adding greatly to the aura of suspense. 2ND CHANCE is a nail-biter if ever there was one!

I look forward to experiencing the rest of this wonderful series.

— Honeybee

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gone-tomorrowGone Tomorrow

Lee Child

Delacorte Press, 2009

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Gone-Tomorrow-Jack-Reacher-No/dp/0385340575/

Try as I might, it’s never been easy for me to turn lemons into lemonade. What can I say? I’m not a “glass half full” kind of gal. But if anything good can come out of a teacher spending the first three days of her summer vacation with torn ligaments and pulled back muscles, then I would have to say that one thing would be three full days of sitting, feet propped on a chair, and reading. Completely uninterrupted by household tasks. Completely guilt-free. And I would have to say that hands-down Lee Child’s GONE TOMORROW would be the perfect book.

If I am not a “glass half full” kind of gal, I am even less a fan of tough guy, blood and guts fiction, so when a friend recommended this book, I don’t mind telling you, I was skeptical.

The story opens with the novel’s hero, Jack Reacher, sitting in a New York City subway car at two o’clock in the morning. An ex-Military cop, Reacher is well trained in the arts of defense and survival. He knows what a suicide bomber looks like. And on that muggy, September morning he’s pretty sure he’s sitting across the aisle from one…

The first chapter of this book consists of four pulse-pounding, tightly written pages. By the time I reached the words Chapter Two I was thoroughly hooked. With his broad knowledge of all things Military and a super-keen eye for details, Lee Child creates a story full of compelling characters and provocative situations that continually shift, keeping the reader perpetually on edge. Mystery. Suspense. Political intrigue. GONE TOMORROW has it all.

Downsized from the army after thirteen years of service, Jack Reacher is smart, tough, and oh-so-sexy. But he is far from perfect, and it is his flaws that make him so endearing. Reacher sometimes feels his age. He makes mistakes. But he learns from them, and comes back tougher and more determined than ever. The novel’s secondary characters, Theresa Lee, a NYC cop with a conscience, John Sansom, a clean politician with a terrible secret, and Lila Hoth, a beautiful millionaire with ties to Al Quaeda, are cast dead-on in their roles without being stereotypical. They add flavor and credibility to this fast paced, NY City story.   

Judging from the inside flap, I’ve got some catching up to do. GONE TOMORROW is Lee Child’s thirteenth in the Jack Reacher series. I definitely won’t wait for another back injury to get reacquainted with my new favorite tough guy!

 …Honeybee

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browngirlsBrown Girls

By John Wesley Ireland

Suspense Thriller

May 17, 2009

Buy Link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1937

Jack Nolan had his moment of fame having a best selling novel published at twenty-five and later writing the screenplay for the movie made from it. But Jack wasn’t thrilled with his new lifestyle or the hypocrisy of the people in it. His writing dried up. His agent was robbing him and his wife left, taking most everything his agent hadn’t. Jack went to the Cook Islands to get away and began taking freelance photos for the local newspaper. He stayed because he loves the islands. He loves the people.

When a tourist is found dead in one of the hotel swimming pools, no one seems to think it anything more than an accident, including the police. Jack isn’t so certain and his peaceful existence is about to explode. While he investigates the man’s death, a young girl disappears and Jack believes the crimes are connected. When the clues begin to add up, he finds himself dealing with the most monstrous criminals.

His personal life is disrupted as well by the arrival of an abused island girl to his home. Maina Rima’s family owns the land and the house where Jack lives and according to island custom she has the right to stay there. Jack isn’t thrilled with sharing his home with a roommate, but morally has no choice. Maina becomes a blessing in disguise, as she acts as his muse and he’s finally able to begin writing again. But Maina is hiding something that puts both her life and Jack’s in danger.

I’d love to say a lot more about this amazing book, but I don’t want to spoil the suspense for other readers. The author’s writing grabbed me with the first sentence and held me captive all the way to the last. A phenomenal writer, Mr. Ireland uses a scarcity of words that keeps the suspense high. Every line is significant—every word has importance. But even with that, his vivid descriptions of the islands and their people have a beautiful poetic flair that brings the scenes to life and absorbs the reader into the story. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes the genres of suspense, crime drama, mystery, or just a darn amazing read by an extraordinarily gifted writer. Don’t miss this one.

 —Willow

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foxriverFox River

By Emilie Richards

Mira 2005

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Fox-River-Emilie-Richards/dp/0778322521

 

Sometimes you can find the best books in the strangest places. I was in a thrift store looking for a small, vintage table when I ambled over and began pawing through a box of used books. When I picked up the worn copy of Fox River I recognized the name Emilie Richards right away. Although I’d never read but one other Emilie Richards’ novel, it made quite an impression on me. I never found the table I was looking for, but I brought home quite a find in this book.

 

Daughter of an aristocratic hunt master, artist Julia Warwick grew up in Race’s Ridge amidst the rolling, green hills of Virginia horse country. At age twenty she was happily planning her life with horse trainer Christian Carver when her best friend, Fidelity, is killed and Christian convicted of the murder. Julia’s world falls to pieces around her—alone, frightened, and pregnant with Christian’s child, she marries Bard Warwick. Bard needs to control every aspect of his life and that includes Julia.

 

Nine years after her marriage, Julia takes a tumble from her horse and although the doctors can find nothing physically wrong, she’s blind. Diagnosed with psychological trauma, Bard arranges for treatment at the exclusive and expensive Gandy Wilson Clinic. Feeling confined and controlled, Julia feels she truly is losing her mind and enlists the help of a nurse and her mother Maisy to free her. Against Bard’s wishes, Maisy takes Julia and her daughter Callie home to Ashburn. Just settling in and becoming more self sufficient, Julia’s world is turned upside down again when new evidence proves Christian was wrongly convicted and he returns to Race’s Ridge a free man. Who did kill Fidelity and what is it Julia’s mind refuses to see?

 

With its intricate plot of lies, deceit, and betrayal, as well as complex characterizations, Ms. Richards has given us a non-stop page-turner with Fox River. This story has it all, romance, intrigue, mystery and glimpses into the ugliness of certain social issues both past and present. At first I wasn’t happy about the story in a story aspect of this book, as Maisy reads the novel she’s writing to Julia, but I came to love it and realized it played an important role in pushing the plot of Fox River forward. I adored Maisy and believe she’s my favorite female character to date. If you can get your hands on a copy this book, I highly recommend it.

 

Willow

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