Away for a Bit

I had the best intentions of 

posting things while I’m away

for the holidays but…

I might be back on Sunday 😁

Book Review: How the Dead Speak by Val McDermid @valmcdermid @LittleBrownUK

How the Dead Speak
The New Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Thriller #11
Val McDermid
Little, Brown (UK), August 2019
ISBN 978-1-4087-1225-2
Hardcover

If you are familiar with Val McDermid’s novels you probably know the characters Tony Hill and Carol Jordan. And if, like me, you are a fan of these two; Tony a profiler and criminal psychologist who works with Carol the head of a special Police team, you probably remember the outcome of their previous collaboration in the novel Insidious Intent where Carol’s and Tony’s lives changed dramatically.

In How the Dead Speak, the newest entry in the series, Tony is in prison and Carol has resigned from her job of running an elite Police Force ReMIT – Regional Major Incident Team. Tony is in a rather hostile environment trying to stay out of trouble, while Carol is suffering from PTSD unwilling to seek help.

When a construction company starting work on a project at a local Convent and School now closed down uncovers a gravesite with a large number of skeletal remains, possibly young girls, the ReMIT team, under new leadership, is called in to investigate. When a second gravesite is found on the same premises with more than six male bodies wrapped in plastic, murder is the most the obvious cause.

Meanwhile, Tony’s mother Vanessa pays him a visit, insisting he help her recover money stolen from her by a man using a Ponzi scheme. While Tony has no love for his mother, she orders him to ask Carol to locate the man who has run off with her money. Knowing Vanessa will use every means she can to further ruin his and Carol’s life if he refuses, he agrees to ask Carol to look into the matter. Vanessa then pays Carol a visit, relaying the message from Tony, leaving Carol with no option but to find the man Vanessa is seeking.

As the storylines kick into gear, chapters switch between multiple points of view, from members of the ReMIT team as they investigate the deaths of the young girls and the murdered men, to Tony as he tries to find a way to come to terms with his incarceration, and Carol in her search for the perpetrator of the Ponzi scheme.

Carol and Tony’s relationship has at times been tumultuous throughout this great series. In this novel we watch with interest as they each deal with the problems they face in vastly different circumstances. Though they are not working together this time, McDermid keeps the reader turning pages eager to reach the conclusion of the engaging plot-lines.

I particularly enjoyed the brief and succinct paragraphs at the heading of each chapter, which are bites from one of Tony Hill’s books.

Grab this one… It’s a must read.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, December 2019.

Book Review: Crime Travel edited by Barb Goffman @BarbGoffman

Crime Travel
Edited by Barb Goffman
Wildside Press, December 2019
ISBN 978-1-4794-4838-8
Trade Paperback

A collection of fifteen short stories which feature crimes committed, prevented, or solved by time travel. The writing is uniformly excellent and the stories give way to flights of imagination, but always grounded in the reality of a crime. Some of the time travel is accomplished by time machine, some by supernatural methods, and some by original and surprising methods.

In Cathy Wiley’s “And Then There Were Paradoxes,” two detectives travel back in time to consult Agatha Christie on a puzzling locked room murder.

A boy discovers how his parents died in an accident ten years earlier, and wonders if there is any way to prevent their deaths in “Alex’s Choice,” by Barb Goffman.

Heidi Hunter’s story, “No Honor Among Thieves,” features a crook who gets an assist from time travel to thwart her partner, and to avoid sharing the spoils of their treasure hunt.

In “Living on Borrowed Time,” Melissa H. Blaine’s protagonist discovers a couple of teenage time travelers who are visiting all the crime sites of the infamous Fifty-State Stabber, and she realizes she will become one of the victims. Is there a way to foil her fate?

Fans of mystery short stories will find this an enjoyable collection of unusual and thought-provoking time travel tales.

Reviewed by Susan Belsky, December 2019.

Christmas Holly

And here’s a great post about lovely holly and a how-to on making a wreath. Merry Christmas!

Lisa s Everyday Life

Since our last cold spell about the only thing with color is my large holly tree with red berries. But what do you know about Holly and its Christmas tie in?

Holly, Ivy and other greenery such as Mistletoe were originally used in pre-Christian times to help celebrate the Winter Solstice Festival and ward off evil spirits and to celebrate new growth. … In pagan times, Holly was thought to be a male plant and Ivy a female plant.

What does Holly represent at Christmas?A holly’s pointed leaves symbolize the crown of thorns placed on Jesus’ head before he died on the cross. Holly is known as christdorn in German, meaning “Christ thorn.” Both of these symbols are meant to serve as a reminder to Christians of Jesus’ suffering, but they aren’t the only stories tying holly to Jesus.

Holly facts :

Ilex, or holly, is a genus of…

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Book Review: Resistant by Erika Modrak @brwpublisher

Resistant
A World Divided
Erika Modrak
Black Rose Writing, December 2019
ISBN 978-1-68433-393-6
Trade Paperback

It is pertinent to preface this review by sharing my wish-list for turning A Book into The Best Book.

1.      Characters I attach to like Velcro. The kind that pop into my head, even when it isn’t buried in the pages, and evoke a wide range of emotions.

2.      So well written that I simply slide along the sentences. But not smoothly.

3.      Must have razor-sharp turns, tummy-flipping twists and a reveal so shocking, it hits like a giant wave of ice-cold water— from out of nowhere.

4.      The story itself must be its own kind of special. Something shiny-new, but with a pseudo-nostalgic, familiar feel. A couple of chuckle-worthy lines, a few to bring tears.

Resistant by Erika Modrak, doesn’t stop at checking each box; it fades my Kodachrome-color fantasy into a sad little stick-figure drawing.

Set in two drastically different worlds, separated by only miles and an impenetrable wall, this Young Adult dystopian marvel unfurls from different viewpoints, each providing a part of the big picture.

Cat and Abel are both fortunate—albeit the reasons are not the same—to live in the Dome. The great Dr. Grayson heads up and cares for The Community. He oversees order and all efforts to find a cure for the Virus. He generously provides basic essentials—beyond the vaccination—for this elite group. Protection, too. Under his watch, they are safe from the few survivors on the outside who have most certainly become criminals, quite possibly cannibals.

Wren and Ryder reside in a comfortable, if rough-around-the edges, camp with other folks that have somehow avoided the Virus. Not absolutely isolated, though. Ryder has managed to make a connection with someone inside the walled city, and periodically speeds away on his motor-bike for supplies. Sometimes, he allows Wren to join him.

And that is how Ryder and Wren learn that each camp rule was written for a reason. If broken, consequences are exponentially more severe than parental punishment.

They’ve caused worlds to collide. Secrets spill and cast a shadow of doubt over everything believed to be true. Wary partnerships are formed to ferret out the truth as those with the most to lose frantically try to maintain their malicious cover.

I’ll be happily handing out copies of Resistant as soon as it hits my hot little hands. It would just be wrong to keep it to myself.

Reviewed by jv poore, December 2019.