Review: Murder In The Air by Marilyn Levinson

14 Jun

Marilyn Levinson

Murder In The Air

A Twin Lakes Mystery, Book 2

Blurb: After the 70-year-old remains of a teenaged boy are uncovered at a Twin Lakes excavation site, Lydia Krause’s elderly neighbor comes to her for advice. Daniel Korman wonders if he should report an old crime or let sleeping dogs lie. Then Daniel is murdered, and Lydia sets out to find his killer. She investigates his boyhood friends and greedy relatives, putting her own life in danger and infuriating her homicide detective lover.

Review: Three reasons why “Murder In The Air” rocks!

1) Lydia Krause is my favorite super sleuth.

There are many things that I love about Lydia Krause. At 59 years old, Lydia has many experiences under her belt. She has experienced the loss of her husband, has ran a successful business, and has received greater responsibility at her current part-time position at Carrington House. Lydia has two daughters, grandchildren, friends, and a little romance in her life.

Lydia has a way of dealing with every person and situation with grace, even when she’s angry. I think that has a lot to do with the wisdom that comes with her age and life experiences. She’s welcoming, charming and these characteristics draw people to her, naturally giving out a trustworthy vibe, which is her most valuable asset when trying to solve a murder.

But Lydia isn’t perfect. In this novel, she struggles with balancing the independent, decisive businesswoman in herself with her romantic relationship with Detective Sol Molina. When a Twin Lakes resident or family member confides in her about the recent murders, Lydia immediately follows the lead, even through she knows Sol won’t be happy about it. Lydia has a strong sense of community and responsibility, and that’s a very refreshing quality.

2) I want to live in Twin Lakes.

Marilyn created a fabulous community full of active residents who each have their own distinct personality. Lydia is open, warm, and charming. Daniel Korman is nice yet very secretive. Sol Molina is a dedicated detective, a protector and a romantic. Barbara is the reliable best friend who never lets Lydia down. Each character is so developed, they come to life, and many times while I was reading, I forgot that Twin Lakes lives only in the novel.

Twin Lakes is such a closely knit community because the residents spend time out of their home, participating in a committee, swimming laps at the pool, at dinner parties, taking in a movie or play, or eating at a restaurant. Besides a cell phone (and not the smart phone kind either), the residents don’t interact with the Internet or social media and I love that. Yes, I like technology, but I like face to face interaction even more.

Twin Lakes, even though it’s a community for older people, is full of drama. Not only do each of the residents have their own personal drama, but because they are older, the family drama spills over, making everything that much more exciting. The best part about this novel is that both murders revolve around Daniel Korman, and no one knows if someone from Daniel’s dysfunctional family or personal past has an itch for murder.

3) Let there be more.

A Murderer Among Us, Marilyn’s first Twin Lakes mystery, was selected as a Best Indie of 2011 by Suspense Magazine (Check out page 49), and I was thrilled to learn that a sequel was in the works. With many of the residents in their golden years, death is either inevitable or sought after by someone who has something to gain. I hope Marilyn turns Twin Lakes into a long mystery series. I want to know what happens next between Lydia and Sol. I want to know if Barbara’s relationship will bloom. How will the residents like the new putting green? I want to know more! Marilyn Levinson’s writing is impeccable, the plot always leaves me guessing, every chapter is full of developing relationships and juicy drama. Murder In The Air is a phenomenal sequel and a must read.

Review: Giving Up the Ghost by Marilyn Levinson

7 Jun

Marilyn Levinson

Giving Up the Ghost

Unical Press

Blurb: After her divorce, Gabbie Meyerson moves to the sleepy town of Chrissom Harbor, Long Island, to teach English at the local high school. She settles into her rental cottage above the Long Island Sound and discovers she has a housemate–the ghost of Cameron Leeds, who used to live in the cottage. Cam insists his death was no accident, and implores Gabbie to find out who murdered him eight months ago. After she recovers from her initial shock, Gabbie agrees to investigate.

Review: The Three Things I Love About “Giving Up the Ghost”

1) Every character is fully developed

No matter how big or small the role a character plays, Marilyn gives each character her full attention. Take Jill Leverette as an example. She is not a main character, but we know that Jill is married to Fred, had an affair with Cam (our murder victim), Theo (Jill and Fred’s daughter) caught Jill and Cam together and resents her mother, Fred is having his own affair with a coworker… The family dynamic for these supporting characters is intriguing, and it’s because of Marilyn’s attention to detail in character development. As a result, it’s impossible not to get drawn into the drama that’s boiling in Chrissom Harbor.

2)  Everyone is a suspect and capable of murder

Marilyn doesn’t hold back when it comes to murder suspects. Every man, woman, and child are considered suspects. Marilyn slowly reveals the secrets the residents of Chrissom Harbor are trying to hide, complicating the plot, adding to the suspense, and drawing you deeper into this small community. I also enjoyed how Marilyn explores the darker side of simple, primal emotions like jealousy, friendship, and love. With Cam being a flirt and a ladies man, the women of the town loved him yet were secretly jealous when he showed affection to another. Cam was also a business man who made sure that he came out ahead in every deal, making his friends and business partners jealous of his money and resentment towards his selfish behavior. 

3) Gabbie is a smart, curious protagonist

I loved playing detective with Gabbie in this novel. Gabbie is smart, a teacher, and really cares for the community of Chrisson Harbor even though she arrived not too long ago. After agreeing to help Cam find out who murdered him, she gets to know her fellow residents. Gabbie has a way of asking the right questions – vague with a hint of curiosity – and playing up the fact that she’s new in town. She is a great friend to Cam, a good detective, and fits into Chrissom Harbor perfectly. 

Overall, Marilyn is my favorite mystery author hands down. Her writing style is easy to read, making it easy to keep track of all the characters in the novel, the pacing is consistent, and the plot perfectly unfolds,  revealing the murderer at just the right time. I highly recommend Giving Up the Ghost. 

Review: The Taker by Alma Katsu

28 May

Alma Katsu

The Taker

The Taker Trilogy, Book 1

Gallery Books | Wunderkind PR

Blurb: On the midnight shift at a hospital in rural St. Andrew, Maine, Dr. Luke Findley is expecting a quiet evening. Until a mysterious woman arrives in his ER, escorted by the police – Lanore McIlvrae is a murder suspect – and Luke is inexplicably drawn to her. As Lanny tells him her story, an impassioned account of love and betrayal that transcends time and mortality, she changes his life forever…. At the turn of the nineteenth century, when St. Andrew was a Puritan settlement, Lanny was consumed as a child by her love for the son of the town’s founder, and she will do anything to be with him forever. But the price she pays is steep – an immortal bond that chains her to a terrible fate for eternity.

Review: The 2 Things I love about The Taker

1) This is not another love story.

I read lots of books about love. Romantic love. Familial love. Loving friends. Loving life. But I’ve yet to read a story that explores the darkness of love. When one will do anything… be anything for the one s/he loves. And that is exactly what Katsu does in her debut novel. Lanore (Lanny for short) is in love with Jonathan, has been ever since she was young. Although she couldn’t explain it at a young age, she knew her love for him was deep, completely unconditional, and knew no bounds. Jonathan was not the most evil person in the novel, but I instantly labeled him as a bad guy. He took advantage of Lanore’s love and devotion to him every chance he had, which led Lanore to making unthinkable decisions she never recovered from. 

The power of choice and love can turn dark and deadly very fast. Lanore’s love took on many forms, from adolescent love to obsessive love to blind love. She made decisions with her emotions, rather than her head. My heart broke every time Lanore made a choice based on love because the love she desired was never returned and her life spiraled downward incredibly fast as a result.

2) Human nature is it’s own scary story.

Many people know that I am a huge fan of horror, but the concepts I have the most trouble digesting are the ones that touch on the madness of human nature. The second and third parts of Alma Katsu’s novel is the scariest thing I have ever read, even trumping Stephen King. Lanore lands in the company of Adair, and he is the most evil character I’ve come across. It’s extremely difficult to describe the effect Adair’s character had on me. Let’s just say that I had to take breaks from reading this novel because Adair’s madness, psychotic nature was psychologically overwhelming. And that’s saying something from someone who can watch the unedited version of The Exorcist and not bat an eyelash. I definitely applaud Katsu for her powerful and multi-dimensional character develop. It didn’t go unnoticed!

The Taker is amazing. I’ve never read anything like it. It has captivated me, hypnotized me. This story is enchanting and magical. Undying love and betrayal are so strong that the power of choice is more important that ever before. 

Reader Question: What advice would you give a woman in love like Lanore?

Returning To My Roots

24 May

I’ve been reflecting about my blog and thinking about what I want to tell you for days now. When I first started blogging, I was very open with my thoughts on books as well as the quirky happenings of my personal life. Lately, my blog has been on a bit of a pause, and I’ve been quite closed off about it. Well now I’m ready to talk about books and what’s been going on in my life. 

I’ve been going through quite a mental, emotional, and spiritual struggle lately. That’s because I’ve had a constant period for 8 months. To this day, my doctor has no idea why this is happening. I’ve been through countless doctor appointments, blood tests (I hate needles!), tried a myriad of medication, two hospital trips, and one surgery. Thankfully, my doctors have found a pill (that’s extremely high in estrogen) which temporarily stops my problem. It’s more like a band-aid than a solution, but after what I’ve been through, I’ll take it. The only downside that still remains is that although I have all of my “parts” it will be a challenge for me to have children (when I’m not taking my pill, my problem returns). That really hurt to hear because I want children, I want a big family. 

To throw salt in my emotional wound, my values-challenged coworker got pregnant and guess who ended up throwing her baby shower? Yup, me. Although I wanted to scream no when she asked me to throw her a baby shower, I couldn’t. I didn’t want to come off as a judgmental jerk at work. It was like nails on a chalkboard all the way through, but I got through it. And I can’t help but mention that I didn’t get a single “thank you” from her. 

Overall I have grown increasingly angry and bitter over the months. I keep thinking about what I’ve done to deserve this. And I slowly withdrew from everything, including my blog. After much reflection I can see that I’ve slowly lost my passion for life. I didn’t want to share what has been going on because I don’t want to come off as a woe-is-me downer. No one likes to be around a complainer, and I didn’t want to become one. However, I wanted to give a special thank you to a few people who have surprised me with their constant care, thoughts, and well wishes throughout my struggle. I want to thank Tarah Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, and Christina Crooks. Ya’ll are more than amazing authors, you are truly my friend! I also want to thank my associate reviewer Aretha for helping me with my blog.

As I’ve been successfully recovering from a constant loss of blood and nutrients, I’ve been thinking about my blog for the last couple of weeks. Really thinking about what drives my passion for blogging, what makes me happy, what keeps me going. I realized that I need to get back to my blogging roots, so I’m making three changes. 

1. Fire Pages will be more than just a romance book blog. I am now accepting mystery, young adult, contemporary romance, and historical romance novels for review. I enjoy reading more than just romance novels, so I’m not limiting myself to reviewing only this genre.

2. Fire Pages is only accepting contemporary and historical romance novels. I only have a limited amount of time to read and review novels. With that being the case, I am no longer accepting erotica and GLBT novels at this time. 

3. I am sticking to my review policy. When submitting a review request, please send all of the info required on the review policy page. It really saves me time when putting posts together.

My next review will be posted on Tuesday, May 29, 2012. I will be sure to keep an updated calendar on the side bar with the upcoming dates of future reviews. Until then, I’ll be reading my TBR pile. Have a happy weekend!

Review: Dreams of Reality by Beth Bares

19 Apr

Beth Bares

Dreams of Reality

The Dreams Trilogy, Book 1

Blurb:

Be careful what you wish for… Elizabeth’s dreams have evolved into daytime visions that are becoming reality. Thinking she is losing her mind, those closest to her, are forced to confess their true identities and that Elizabeth’s unusual birthmark is really the mark of the Seventh Power. She doesn’t know whether to be freaked out or thrilled that her life-long wish has come true. But when her newest vision clearly displays evil and darkness within the most powerful immortal council, fear takes precedence over all other emotions. Elizabeth wants to embrace this new world and face whatever danger it may involve. But she is determined to achieve it on her own terms and not those from some century old, egotistical males.

Review:

Dreams of Reality is a fantastic story, and I’m very excited that this is the start of a new trilogy. This story is very well written, the pace is perfect, and the plot is so engaging that this book is very hard to put down. The story line keeps you hanging from the beginning to the end, which totally triggered my need to devour this story as soon as possible.  I couldn’t wait to find out when Elizabeth would be told about her mark and see the revealing of her magical powers. On top of secrets, some very cool magical powers, and a new world that has just opened to Elizabeth, we get to see Elizabeth as a normal girl who attracts the love of James and Andrew’s, which adds a layer of love, friendship, and romance that I really sank my teeth into.

Elizabeth and James are my favorite characters.  James is Elizabeth’s best friend and is madly in love with Elizabeth. He is unconditionally loyal to Elizabeth, and that’s a quality that I fell in love with. I enjoyed Elizabeth’s character so much because she is a normal girl who is confident enough in herself to take a leap of faith and see where life takes her. In fact, my favorite scene is when Elizabeth discovers her seventh power and slams guys to the wall. I laughed so hard at that part. Elizabeth was definitely kicking butt. 

This is the first novel that I’ve read by Beth Bares and it certainly won’t be the last. I’m completely hooked to this trilogy and I’m looking forward to reading what happens next!

White Lace And Promises by Natasha Blackthorne

31 Mar

Natasha Blackthorne

White Laces and Promises

Carte Blanche Series, Book 2

White Lace & Promises is a historical novel that absolutely rocks! I really enjoyed the love Seth and Grey had for each other. Overall, Beth was my favorite character. She is young, beautiful, and had many men in her life. Beth always challenged herself to be a better person, wife, lover and friend. She never gives up on others, especially Grey. Even in the face of people like Dr. Wade and his special promises, Beth stays true to her love for Grey. I really believe that all women can relate to Beth, as our love for the men in our lives is as loyal and strong as hers.

Even though Beth is in love with Grey, my favorite scene is when she stands up to him. She refuses to be pushed aside by him and have him treat her like his previous relationships. She is his wife and will be damned if she allows him to treat her that way. This was my favorite scene because while Beth is in love, she is not blinded by her love. She remains strong and true to herself, making me love her character even more.

White Lace & Promises is very well written and the pacing is great. The novel flows smoothly and is intense at the same time. The intensity comes from Dr. Wade’s promises, and the way he tries to lure Beth away from Grey. However, Natasha does bring closure to each of the characters, giving the book a happy ending that I saw very fitting. Overall, I loved White Lace & Promises. This is an excellently executed sequel to Grey’s Lady.

The Campbell Odyssey by Bruce Cooke

22 Mar

Bruce Cooke

The Campbell Odyssey

Bruce Cooke’s “Campbell Odyssey” is a touching story about two very different people who met and fall in love in the early Australia era. At the heart of The Campbell Odyssey is a love story of Elizabeth and Rory. Elizabeth loves her family so much that she sacrifices her wants for her family’s happiness, moves to Australia and agrees to marry a much older man.  Rory, on the other hand, returns to Australia to relieve the shame he has brought to his family because of his debonair and rakish lifestyle.

Elizabeth and Rory were enemies at first. It took a boating accident that put Elizabeth, her husband, and Rory in mortal danger. It is during this scene that Rory learns about the importance of responsibility and Elizabeth starts to cares about him. Although the love between Elizabeth and Rory is deep, Elizabeth remains loyal to her husband and Rory has no choice but to leave her.

At this point Susan, a dignified convict woman who is falsely accused of stealing a brooch, enters the picture as she is being transported to Australia. Susan is the face of era in which injustice often befalls convict people and lower class people. Bruce Cooke did an excellent job exploring the lives of the people who have been sent to Australia around the 19th century, and doesn’t shy away from the lives of convicts, the women who prostitute themselves and men who become thieves.

The Campbell Odyssey is a wonderful story about the inspirational life-changing journey of Rory Campbell. This story shows how Rory changed from a careless young rake into a mature and empathetic man who discovers Australia’s sheep industry. The Campbell Odyssey is a magnificent story which successfully describes a dark era of 19th century. It is very well researched and full of accurate facts.

Reviewer: Aretha

%d bloggers like this: