Book Review: A Christmas Secret by Anne Perry

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Book Review: A Christmas Secret by Anne Perry

First of all, Merry Christmas, or as my British friends would probably say, Happy Christmas!
I hope everyone has had a jolly time so far this holiday season.
Yes, there have been a few things happen which are so sad, from the death of George Michael to the plane crash which killed sixty-four members of the Alexandrov Ensemble a.k.a. Russian Army Choir (formerly the Red Army Choir). As a longtime fan, I am stunned. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandrov_Ensemble

Our prayers go out to the families and to the country of Russia, as a whole, on the loss of so many members of this iconic ensemble. A true tragedy.
And to the friends and family, and the many fans of George Michael, I offer my deepest condolences.

But life goes on. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like it can, but miraculously the sun comes up the next day even if we don’t want it to.
We’ve had our shares of ups and downs this year and over the last few, but our lives are going on.. And I am diving into reading again. I found I was spending so much time working on editing other people’s books, not only wasn’t I writing, but I also wasn’t reading. So that has changed. It’s my biggest New Year’s resolution. Read for fun!!!

So I grabbed one of Anne Perry’s Christmas Mystery books off the shelf where it had been sitting for a couple of years, and thought, I should read THIS!!!
I love Anne’s writing. It satisfies all my needs to my core. Nice historical settings. The ones that resonate with me—the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s. I think that must have been the time period of my most recent past life. I have never really felt totally comfortable in this era. I’ve met Anne at the Surrey International Writers Conference ( http://www.siwc.ca ) in years past. I’ve even sat with her for lunch. And, of course, there are the inevitable meetings in the bathroom, during the conference. We are all the same.

During lunch, we chatted and her concerns were just like the rest of us, dietary. I have to order special meals because of serious allergies. We seemed to be a table of food concerns that day.
I missed seeing her this year. I hope she shows up in 2017. She is one of the figureheads of the conference—along with our beloved Jack Whyte ( http://www.jackwhyte.com )and Diana Gabaldon ( http://www.dianagabaldon.com )—and such a lovely person.

Of course, I started with the second one in the collection, A Christmas Secret, which is number four in The Christmas Stories. A Random House publication, it was published on November 7, 2006.

Here’s a brief description off Amazon.com.

“Dominic Corde is thrilled to “fill the robe” as substitute vicar in the village of Cottisham, while the Reverend Wynter is away on a three-week Christmas holiday. Glad to escape his dreary London flat and a less-than-satisfying job as church curate, Dominic and his beloved wife, Clarice, set off for what they hope will be a lovely winter getaway.

Upon arrival, in the midst of a frigid, exceptionally snowy season, Dominic and Clarice are welcomed by warm, hospitable neighbors and enchanted by the cozy, inviting vicarage. Everything seems almost too perfect. Dominic’s only concern is how he will be received by the congregation, who hold the Reverend Wynter in such high regard. But as Clarice soon discovers, she and Dominic have much more dire matters to worry about. It turns out that the Reverend Wynter isn’t on holiday at all–and that something very sinister has transpired.
As a blizzard leaves Cottisham treacherously snowbound and the isolated village swirls with unsavory secrets, Dominic and Clarice suddenly find themselves in deadly danger.”

I love Anne’s descriptive style. You can almost taste her verbal pictures of the weather and landscape. Here’s an excerpt.

“Dominic remained another fifteen minutes, and then took his leave out into a fading afternoon, now even more bitterly cold. Some of the clouds had cleared away, and it had stopped snowing. The light was pale, with the amber of the fading sun low on the horizon. Shadows were growing longer. The edge of the wind cut like a blade, making his skin hurt and his eyes water.
His feet slipped a little as he trudged down the icy drive. Other than the thud of the mounded snow on the evergreens overbalancing onto the ground below, there was silence in the gathering gloom.
Beyond the trees, the village lights shone yellow, making little golden smudges sparkling against the blue-gray of twilight. Someone opened a door onto a world of brilliance. A dog scampered out then back in again, and the light vanished.
Dominic’s hands and feet were numb. Hunching his shoulders from the cold, he stopped for a moment to retire his scarf.
That was when he heard the footsteps behind him. He swung around, his breath catching in his throat from the icy air in his lungs. The figure was there, crossing the village green only a few yards away. She was bent, shivering, and very small. She stopped also, motionless, as if uncertain whether to try running away.” Page 309 of the two book collection.

As a Canadian, who grew up in Ontario, and was born in one of the worst snowstorms in January of 1952, I can tell you this winter description is dead on the money. I can taste the cold. I got pneumonia, one year, from running to school, breathing through my mouth, without a scarf over my face. I know what icy cold feels like in your lungs. I know the wind of winter can take your breath literally away and make you think you are suffocating.

I can see the skies, and feel the air when I read her stories. Plus she knows how to pace a mystery, slowly and carefully, making you have to turn the pages and just finish the bloody book or you will never sleep. So I don’t pick up one of her books unless I know I have a few hours to read, because I’m just going to stay up through the night till it’s done. Thankfully, I’m a fast reader.

Anyway, I have now read three of her Christmas Stories, and will share bits from each over the next couple of weeks as I continue to read as many as I downloaded on my kindle. It was too ‘wintery’ outside to go to the bookstore, so I just bought the e copies. But know I am the kind of reader who likes the feel and smell of the hard copy in my hot little hands! I will never allow the tech device to replace the real thing completely. (Though I do like the ability to enlarge the print on these new fangled devices.) And I will probably pick up hard copies as I find them so I can wear them out for real. 😁
So, if you’re looking for a nice winter Mystery, here is a good one.
I give it five stars! Or six, if there was such a thing. *****(*)+

It’ll keep you in the Christmas mood!
Here’s a bunch of links:

http://www.anneperry.co.uk

https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Secret-Novel-Stories-Book-ebook/dp/B000MAH7V8/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482781308&sr=1-9&keywords=anne+perry+christmas+series

https://www.amazon.com/Anne-Perrys-Christmas-Mysteries-Holiday-ebook/dp/B001IZC3MY/ref=sr_1_16?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482781366&sr=1-16&keywords=anne+perry+christmas+series.

Forgive the long links, I’m feeling very lazy today. 😳😒

And here’s a little something extra.

All the best, and Merry Christmas!

Lynne

 

Book Review: Queen of the Night by J. A. Jance

Book Review: Queen of the Night by J. A. Jance

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First of all, I have to state without hesitation, I love J. A. Jance’s books. I’ve read almost all of the Joanna Brady series, and some, more than once.

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That being said, I have mixed feelings about this particular offering from the author.
I got lost almost immediately in the profusion of characters and opening scenes, each of which sounded like the start of a different novel. It took me awhile to determine what was going on and sort everyone out. I had to start the book a couple of times and go back and reread. Maybe it was just brain fog on my part, but even at the very end, I was momentarily confused, trying to remember who one of the characters was.

There are a lot of people in this book. Some are pretty amazing, and I can definitely see how they all fit together, but I kept praying someone would get killed off so I had fewer names to recall. Thankfully, murder mysteries usually satisfy that goal.
I also felt there were almost too many plot lines. But, they were all necessary—I think. At least everything wound up connected, somehow, in the end.

It was an interesting, suspenseful read, that’s for sure. And yes, very reminiscent of Tony Hillerman, whom the book was dedicated to. But, there were things as an editor which I would have liked to have seen changed. Too many “thats” for a fiction work, and way too much past perfect tense, plus too many characters, and plots, and openings.
Would I recommend it? You betcha. But be alert and keep your memory working. You might want to take notes or you could lose track.

I would say it’s a three star based on the confusion and editing points, and a four star based on thrill factor.

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Here’s a link to Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/hfp82bd

And Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/jogxn45

Have a great day!
Lynne

What’s Been Happening?

Hi Everyone!

Wow, I’ve been absent for a bit. I need to apologize to my readers. Had a little run-in with the big C and required surgery and various and sundry treatments.

So far—so good!

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In the meantime, I have been very lax in getting any blogging or writing done.

Some of my authors have been hard at work and so I’ve managed to get some stuff edited. That kept my brain working and filled my time.

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Donna Jean McDunn has completed the third book in her Nightmares Series. Premonitions will be coming out soon from MuseItUp Publishing. Also The Rose Stalker came out recently. Now there’s a super story! A slow paced little number that will keep you turning the pages as it gets scarier and scarier. Donna did a nice job on that one.

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Rosemary Morris and I just finished the edits on Monday’s Child, a sequel to her wonderful Regency Romance, Sunday’s Child. It is well done and the last few chapters were just great. It is set during the Napoleonic wars and her writing about those events, the soldiers involved in the fighting, the wounded, well, you feel like you’re right there.

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One thing about Rosemary, she is not one of those historical writers who set a 20th century character in the middle of another time. Her characters are genuine and part of the era. Her settings are well researched. The descriptions of the clothes, amazing. Just so well done!

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Have a new author I’m just finishing working with named William J. Dezell.

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We did It’s The Little Things You Miss. Oh, what a nice story. A mystery, but I loved the flavour of the book. A detective story with a fellow who should have been born in the Sam Spade era. Great lines. Super descriptions. Lots of wit. I’ll keep you updated on its progress. Bill’s other work:

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My author, J. Troy Seate, has moved on to another House. I just loved working with Troy and hope he does well wherever he goes.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CFXNBLE/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

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I have a couple of editing projects on my desk right now in the private field. One is a Historical Romance and the other is a Historical Word War Two Paranormal Action Adventure. Can’t wait to get my teeth into them! In the mean time, I have a couple of other projects to keep me busy.

 

I finished and published a book of Prayers which you can check out on my Exploring the Divine blog, www.exploringthedivine.wordpress.com  or my website, www.vlmurray.ca

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I have other things along those lines in the works right now. Plus my short story Huntin’,

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a paranormal thriller set in northern Canada, with a Medicine Wheel theme, was published in 2014. It’s a creepy little one. Lots of fun to write. Check out the book trailer on my website, and this site, as well.

 

I sure wish I had more time to sit down and work on my own things, but I’m gradually getting back into the swing of things.

So for now, I hope all is well with you. Take care, and enjoy the Spring!

Cheers,

Lynne

 

 

Book Review: Damage Control by J. A. Jance

Book Review: Damage Control by J. A. Jance

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Another super mystery novel by author J. A. Jance. As per all the other works in this series, this Sheriff Joanna Brady novel of suspense does not disappoint.
It’s been awhile since I picked up one of her books and I had forgotten just how excellent and fast paced they are. Damage Control is layered in plot and character development. The two main storylines twist and turn, leaving you breathless as they conclude. Jance explores levels of grief and loss in this particular one and moved me to tears with her description. A really powerful novel.
If you like anything about the southwestern United States, and you are an action mystery lover, this book is for you.
Five stars all the way. image
V. L. Murray

Damage Control is available on Amazon and where good books are sold.

http://www.amazon.com/Damage-Control-Joanna-Brady-Mysteries/dp/0060746785/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1442250550&sr=1-1&keywords=damage+control+by+j+a+jance

Product Details
Series: Joanna Brady Mysteries (Book 13)
Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (June 30, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0060746785
ISBN-13: 978-0060746780
Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 7.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
#2321 in Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > Police Procedurals
#4822 in Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > Women Sleuths
#7908 in Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers & Suspense > Suspense

Back Cover:

At first glance, it appears to be an accident . . .

A car carrying an elderly couple goes off the side of a mountain and tumbles into oblivion on a beautiful sunny day in the Coronado National Monument. A note pulled from the twisted wreckage suggests the tragedy may have been a double suicide—but an autopsy later suggests something different. A deadly fire and a fatal home invasion may or may not have some connection to the terrible crash. And miles away in the desert, a savage rain has revealed something grisly and terrifying: two trash bags filled with human remains.

It’s just another day in the life of Cochise County sheriff Joanna Brady, who must somehow balance the rigors of police work with a newborn, a teenager, a writer-husband, and a difficult mother. But Joanna will not allow murder to go unpunished in her jurisdiction—even if her path to the truth is twisting and dangerous . . . and leads to shocking revelations about those entrusted with caring for the helpless.

I think I will go back and read the rest again. Just love her work!

V. L. Murray

 

 

Book Review: Blood in the Cotswolds by Rebecca Tope

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Blood in the Cotswolds by Rebecca Tope
#5 in the Cotswold Mysteries series

 

ISBN 978-0-7490-0730-0
Published by Allison & Busby Limited
London, W1T 4EJ
http://www.allisonandbusby.com
2008

 

 

Five stars all the way *****

I found this book in our complex library and I must say it was a great read! Although the first chapter seemed to drag a little, I persisted and soon the plot action picked up. The main characters—of this book and the series–are Detective Superintendent Phil Hollis and his ladyfriend, Thea Osborne, who has taken a temporary job house sitting in the quaint village of Temple Guiting. Along for the ride is Hepzibah, Thea’s cocker spaniel, plus a few miscellaneous critters, including horses, fish and a python, all of whom are part of the house sitting gig.
Most of the characters are introduced pretty quickly in the story. There are plenty of quirky locals to satisfy the reader’s interest, plus some connections to the Knights Templar and dead Saints who have died in very weird ways.
Within 24 hours, what was supposed to be a holiday for DS Hollis and Thea, turns into a physical nightmare for both of them, when Phil puts his back out during a romantic interlude in a feather bed. As I lie here with my own back in spasm—mine from heaving furniture around– I can totally relate to everything poor Phil endured. Especially his criticism of the soft feather mattress that certainly didn’t help the problem. He referred to it as “lethal” and I would have done the same.
The agonizing trip in Thea’s car to the hospital, the next day, ends with Phil being told he must stay still and let his “slipped disc” heal, a process which might take as long as three months. So he will have to take some serious time off work. He is not amused. By this time we have also learned Thea is less than sympathetic and not a good nurse. Poor Phil would rather be solving murders than lying around in pain feeling rotten and sorry for himself. Thea suggests he try to see the humour in the situation. Her suggestion is answered with a snarl. (I can certainly relate.)
Thankfully, the universe steps in and a strange event involving a fallen tree uncovers a skeleton entangled within its roots. DS Hollis cannot let the officer in charge of the discovery proceed without his involvement, and so the mystery begins. Who is this person? What happened to them?And how did they get there?
What follows is a complicated, entertaining search for the truth. Phil’s back takes a series of turns for the better and then the worse. I cringed along with him.
I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series. They are available on Kindle, so I will probably pursue the e book venue; that way when one runs out, I’ll have the rest waiting.
Highly recommended. Lots of fun. Written in the British punctuation style. Plus a few words in there I had never heard before. Love it when that happens.
Enjoy!
V.L. Murray

 

Against All Odds—What’s Our REAL Chance of Becoming a Successful Author?

Wonderful advice for anyone who wants to write successfully.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image and quote courtesy of SEAL of Honor on Facebook. Image and quote courtesy of SEAL of Honor on Facebook.

Many of you were here for last week’s discussion regarding What Makes a Real Writer? When we decide to become professional writers, we have a lot of work ahead of us and sadly, most will not make the cut.

I know it’s a grossly inaccurate movie, but I love G.I. Jane. I recall a scene during Hell Week (the first evolution of S.E.A.L. training) where Master Chief has everyone doing butterfly kicks in the rain. He yells at the recruits to look to their left and look to their right, that statistically, those people will quit.

Who will be the first to ring that bell? Who will be the first to quit?

Image via www.freerepublic.com Image via http://www.freerepublic.com

Years ago, one of my mentors mentioned The 5% Rule. What’s The 5% Rule? So happy you asked. Statistically, only 5% of the population is…

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