Catch-Up Quickies 38

First a quick explanation!

Due to some severe health issues over the last few years, and a lingering chronic condition, my planned review schedule went right out of the window and I have been scrabbling ever since to get it back on track.

In my latest attempt to try to regain some lost ground, I have been scrunching some of my (overdue) reviews together into one or two posts each week: shorter reviews, but still covering all of the points I intended to.

That’s the plan anyway and it is Cupid’s month, so let’s see if we can find some books to fall in love with!

Title:  Misery Rock
Author:  Reagan Keeter
Publisher:  TouchPoint Press

Blurb:  How far will Sharron go to stop her spouse from killing a stranger if stopping him means she might become his next victim?

Sharron Freeman is a loving suburban mother and psychologist whose world gets shattered when she learns her husband, Ben, is a killer. Worse than that, he kills as part of a group and, since she doesn’t know who the other participants are, going to the police is not an option.

Desperate to keep herself and her daughter safe, she pretends she’s interested in joining them. Then Sharon sets out to discover who else is involved and find evidence against them before they meet to kill again.

It’s a journey that will send Sharon into the nefarious world of the dark web and put her life in danger more than once. It will require her to draw on courage she didn’t know she had and come face to face with enemies she didn’t know existed. And in the end, it all might prove to be in vain.

Misery Rock is the kind of story you won’t be able to put down.

Get your copy of this domestic thriller today!

Review: This domestic thriller goes from 0-100 fast, as main character Sharon finds out everything she thought she knew about her life with her husband Ben is a lie and then accidentally stumbles into violence and murder and has to use all of her knowledge and experience as a psychologist to save herself and the latest victim from a dangerous ‘murder club’.

The story is fast-paced and keeps you on edge throughout, desperately hoping Sharon can succeed against the odds. There are quite a few twists and surprises as the plot unfolds and plenty of action, so despite it being fairly clear where the story was heading in general, it still kept you hooked in to turning those pages to see how it got there.

I did find it a little difficult to connect to the characters initially, but once the plot got underway I was pulled along and couldn’t put it down until I found out how it all turned out.

This is a great read for thrill-seekers who want uncomplicated, pacey, murderous, explosive action and suspense.

Purchase Link: Misery Rock on Amazon

Title:  All Quiet in the Western Fold
Author:  Jamie Brindle
Publisher:  Independently published

Blurb: The stories are far too happy. It’s uncanny.

For Indigo Shuttlecock – Sheriff of the Western Fold, a backwater district of cliched mysteries and old science fiction tales – the fact that her charges have lost their conflict isn’t a good thing. It’s a problem.

Fresh out of the Academy, Indigo thought being given the Western Fold to protect was a punishment, a humiliating first posting with no chance of promotion.

But when her stories start to succumb to a strange sickening that leaves them devoid of antagonism and interest, can Indigo uncover the secret rot haunting the past of the Western Fold?

Review: I believe this short novella is listed as book 0 or perhaps book 7 in the Storystream series, but I have been reading the series in a completely haphazard fashion and been (mostly) none the worse for it (the exception is that I recommend reading Chaos Born before Chaos Drive unless you want your brain to dribble out of your ears a little bit!).

A little similar to Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next novels, this particular tale features books that need curating and the law-people who are in charge of keeping them in line, but I like Jamie Brindle’s take on this concept more. Here we find books that are the personification of the stories they contain, and exploration about what gives them life, and how the different genres and styles can bring different strengths to a book.

It’s all very meta and makes a nice addition to the general Storystream mythology, which is also very meta. And in my opinion, these books are cleverer, funnier and have more internal consistency (if not series numbering consistency!) than other similar big-name books.

Most telling to me, is that Jamie Brindle’s love of stories, storytelling and the written word sings through every line in this novella, and that resonates with my bookish heart. Plus it’s a great little story in its own right, and Indigo Shuttlecock is a fun protagonist.

Pick this up for a little light fantasy relief aimed at fellow book-lovers!

Purchase Link: All Quiet in the Western Fold on Amazon

Title:  Caledonia
Author:  Sherry V. Ostroff
Publisher:  Independently published

Blurb:  Finalist – Chanticleer International Awards – Chaucer pre-1750 historical novel division
IndieB.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree
Indie Diamond Book Award – Winner in Adult Fiction

Anna Issac’s choices are bleak.

Suicide is more appealing than marrying the revolting Frenchman her spiteful brother has chosen for her. The only other option is to beg a man she barely knows, a Highlander, to help her run away. Escape would be a challenge for any fifteen-year-old, but it is particularly difficult for a Jewess living in 17th century Scotland.

Anna’s tale would have remained a secret, except three centuries later the death of Hanna Duncan’s father on 9/11 unleashes a chain of events that leads her to an ancient key with a peculiar etching. Once deciphered, the clue points Hanna toward a safe deposit box in Edinburgh where Hanna uncovers Anna’s role in the creation of Scotland’s only colony.

Caledonia promised to be the trading hub of the New World, but starvation, ship’s fever, and incompetent leadership dogged the 1,200 colonists from the moment they left Scotland. More than half would be buried at sea or in the colony’s muddy cemetery, and Anna would not be immune from the dreadful conditions. The outpost was deserted in less than a year.

CALEDONIA is a tale of these two strong women separated by time but bound by mysterious circumstances. 21st century Hanna keeps uncovering evidence linking her to 17th century Anna. Both women experience romance, adventure, and tragedy as the reader witnesses them becoming more and more connected.

Review: This historical fiction novel follows two women with links to each other – Anna in 17th century Scotland and Hanna in the USA in 2005. The timeline of the story flicks back and forth between the two as we explore Anna’s story both first-hand and through Hanna’s research into a mysterious inheritance.

We actually spend more time and become more emotionally connected with Anna, as Hanna’s part of the story is focused mostly on her research into Anna’s life, although she does get a little romance of her own along the way.

The story covers some of the history of Jewish people in Scotland and their persecution by the Spanish Inquisition, along with the ill-fated attempt to set up a Scottish colony – Caledonia, as per the book title – on the Isthmus of Panama.

This is not a light or easy read, as Anna’s story gets quite dark. There is rape, violence, plague and murder in this far-spanning saga, with lots of struggle and despair and very little good luck or lightness.

However, it is an immersive and compelling plunge into womanhood, religious intolerance and the links between the past and our modern selves, and the unresolved issues at the end lead neatly into the sequel, Mannahatta, which was released in 2021 and continues the tales of both Anna and Hanna to their conclusions.

Purchase Link: Caledonia on Amazon

Title:  Uncertain Murder
Author:  James Litherland
Publisher:  Outpost Stories

Blurb:  A Sam and Bailey Mystery

IN THE SUMMER OF 1992, tech billionaire Brandt Keener dies drinking a glass of wine while dining with his nearest if not dearest on his small private island off the Washington coast. Despite suspicious circumstances and an abundance of motives, the police find no evidence of homicide, and three weeks later the same people who were present at his death gather again for the reading of his will. Convinced the man was murdered, time-travelers Sam and Bailey inveigle themselves onto the island to investigate, but soon their best suspects start dying…

The series continues with Book 4: Prohibited Activities, Book 5: Temporal Entanglement, and Book 6: Belated Witness, the second Sam and Bailey mystery!

Review: This third book in the Watchbearers series stands alone if you read it as a straight mystery book, but if you want to understand the sci-fi background to the characters you would definitely need to read the first two books first, as it involves a complex history of time travel and betrayal.

Reading this as a straight mystery isn’t that much of a stretch though – you have the isolated location, phone lines down, suspects dropping like flies… Meanwhile, time travelling researchers Sam, Bailey and Turner bumble around attempting (ineffectively) to find out what really happened to millionaire Brandt Keener.

I do think the suspects, particularly Keener’s wives and children, could have been developed more here, and I will admit that I wasn’t even sure why the Watchbearers were so intent on solving this ‘case’ anyway… shouldn’t they be focused on researching whatever it is they’re meant to be researching and then getting back to the future with their findings? And I was particularly baffled as to why Turner would plod along in a menial role for 30 years instead of looking for his wife and/or colleagues – what benefit was there in him taking this ‘long route’?

Still, taken as a mystery, Agatha Christie style, rather than a sci-fi, time travel adventure this works well and is an entertaining read. It doesn’t really further the plot of the series as a whole, but is a fun side-street diversion.

Purchase Link: Uncertain Murder on Amazon

Title:  Falling into Magic
Author:  Elizabeth Pantley
Publisher:  Independently published

Blurb:  An accidental journey through a magic mirror. A portal to an enchanted land. A mysterious family she never knew she had. Hayden’s life is upended with the wonder of Destiny Falls. But it is tainted by the danger that brought her here and that threatens her newfound family. Can Hayden and her sassy sidekick remove the threat, so that she can begin her magical new life in this captivating world?

~~~ Nominated by The Cozy Escape Book Club for BEST BOOK in the Cozy Escape Awards ~~~

When Hayden was a child, she lost her cat. Adults told her the cat ran away, but she knew the truth. The mirror had taken her. She knew because the mirror gave her a glimpse of an alternate world and had nearly pulled her in, so she was certain the cat had suffered that fate.

Twenty years later, Hayden discovers the secret of the mirror when she is thrust into it. She learns of an enchanted world she never knew existed, and a family she never knew she had.

But danger brought her here, and it followed her. Now, Hayden is on a mission to remove the threat, so that she can begin her magical, meaningful new life in this enchanted world.

Review: This Young Adult adventure is part mystery, part fantasy, as Hayden is pulled through a mirror into the magical town of Destiny Falls where her cat can talk telepathically to her, the geography rearranges itself, the house is sentient (¡Hola Casita!) and her long-lost family await her – some eagerly, some less so.

The mystery element comes in long- and short-running form, as Hayden has to solve the mystery of who is trying to bribe and attack family members (which is resolved within this book) and the mysteries of what happened to Hayden’s mother and what is going on with the mysterious witch trapped in a cave nearby (neither of which are resolved in this book, as they form an overarching series plotline).

The characters and their development very much follow teen and YA fiction style, but there are hints of more adult material in the potential romantic triangle (set up in this first book) and various murder attempts (nothing graphic or detailed).

I love the concept for this series, the relationships that Hayden is starting to build, and the worldbuilding of the town and its unique ways, but did feel that some of the dialogue felt a little bit clunky and unnatural and that the witch sections felt out of synch with the cosy mystery tone of the rest of the story, but other than those minor quibbles, this is a fun easy read and an interesting start to a promising series.

Purchase Link: Falling into Magic on Amazon

Yet another rather eclectic mix from the shelves of yours truly here, from domestic thriller, via novella and historical drama, to sci-fi mystery and YA fantasy-mystery.

Did anything take your fancy? If so, please support independent authors by leaving a review wherever you buy/talk about books.

And do let me know as well – I always love to hear your thoughts! 🙂


One thought on “Catch-Up Quickies 38

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s