Book Review: The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

The Stranger Diaries
Elly Griffiths
First Mariner Books, March 2019
ISBN 978-0-358-11786-5
Library ebook

Clare Cassidy is an English Literature teacher at Talgarth High in the town of Shoreham-by-Sea in West Sussex. The school itself has some history connected to a writer R.M.Holland, well known for his short story “The Stranger” and for residing in the school back in the early 1900’s, long before it became a school. There is also a haunting tale about his wife who’d died in mysterious circumstances, and even now her ghostly presence wanders the rooms where she lived with her husband.

Ella Elphick, a teacher at Talgarth High well-liked by colleagues and students, has been murdered. The novel is told through three of the characters, Clare, her teenage daughter Georgia, and DS Harbinder Kaur, the detective assigned to the case. Clare is writing a book about R.M. Holland, and has been keeping a diary for years.

The reader comes to know these three woman through their everyday lives and their thoughts on the murder. DS Kaur, who once attended Talgarth High, is thirty-five and still lives with her parents. Georgia aspires to be a writer and is meantime dealing with her over- protective mother and her own self confidence. And Clare, unsettled by the murder of her friend, and worried about her teenage daughter’s budding romance.

Another body is discovered throwing light on the possibility that Clare may be in danger.

I wasn’t particularly fond of the way this mystery unfolded. Moving back and forth between the three main characters tended to duplicate some of the information and there was little urgency in unmasking the perpetrator, even after a second victim appeared. Scattered throughout the novel was the short story “The Stranger” which I also found distracting. The final outcome didn’t work, at least, for me…

However, as I write this, I’m aware that this novel has been awarded the 2020 Edgar award for Best Novel. Not my cup of tea I guess.

Respectfully submitted,

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, May 2020.

Book Review: Gone to Darkness by Barbara Nickless @BarbaraNickless

Gone to Darkness
Sydney Rose Parnell #4
Barbara Nickless
Thomas and Mercer, June 2020
ISBN 978-1542092869
Trade Paperback

Sydney Parnell is the youngest homicide detective in the Denver’s Major Crime Unit. She’s an Iraqi war vet and has also worked as a railway cop along with her K9 partner Clyde, a Belgian Malinois who was by her side during her time in Iraq.

Sydney is meeting up with another officer to investigate a possible jumper from a train. When she arrives she finds Officer Heinrich unconscious and bleeding from a head injury. Sydney calls for back up and an ambulance and while she waits, she and Clyde take a look around. Nothing seems amiss but a fog descends which renders the scene rather eerie. Near the tracks she spots a medallion smeared with blood. Further searching uncovers paper clips shaped like a cross.

Her gut instinct is telling her something strange is going on. A Forensic team is sent out to the area and Sydney insists that the train that recently passed through the area be searched. During the search the mutilated body of a young man is found.

The victim turns out to be well known among local graphic artists using his talents to draw superhero comics. He was also known to the immigrant workers and was a member of group calling themselves The Superior Gentlemen.

The investigation seems to be getting nowhere and reluctantly Sydney reconnects with another case she’s been assigned regarding the rapes of women in nursing homes. DNA collected from the train matches that found at the rapes, a strong indication the two cases are connected.

The plot is strong, complex and intriguing. Sydney is a likeable well rounded character. I really liked her connection with Clyde, her dog, as well as her relationship with her mentor, Detective Len Bandoni. Some of the descriptions of victims are harsh and brutal and may be a problem for some readers.

This is the fourth novel from Barbara Nickless in this series. I haven’t read the others but I had no problem keeping up.

All in all … A great read!

Respectfully submitted,

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, June 2020.

Book Review: GenTech by Dr. Rick Chromey @MyGenTech2020 @MorganJamesPub @iReadBookTours

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Title: GenTech: An American Story of Technology,
Change and Who We Really Are
Author: Dr. Rick Chromey
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
Genre: Adult Nonfiction,
History / Cultural & Technical History

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Purchase Links:
Amazon.com ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound
BAM ~ Powell’s ~ Indigo ~ Rediscovered Books

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Synopsis

Every twenty years a new generation rises, but who and what defines
these generations? And could current generational tags mislead
and miss the point? In this insightful analysis of technology history since 1900,
Dr. Rick Chromey offers a fresh perspective for understanding what
makes a generation tick and differ from others. Within GenTech,
readers learn how every generation uniquely interacts with particular
technologies that define historical temperament and personality and
why current generational labels are more fluid than fixed, and more loopy
than linear. Consequently, three major generational constellations emerge,
each containing four, twenty-year generations that overlap, merge, and blend:

The Audio Generations (1900-1950): Transportation-Telephone Generation
(1900-1920), Motion Picture Generation (1910-1930), Radio Generation
(1920-1940), Vinyl Record Generation (1930-1950)

The Visual Generations (1940-1990): Television Generation (1940-1960),
Space Generation (1950-1970), Gamer Generation (1960-1980)
and Cable Television Generation (1970-1990)

The Digital Generations (1980-2000): Personal Computer-Cell Phone
Generation (1980-2000), Net Generation (1990-2010), iTech Generation
(2000-2020), and Robotics Generation (2010-2030). Dive in and revel in
this exciting, compelling, and novel perspective to understanding
recent American generations with GenTech.

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Review by John Zaleski

FIVE STARS. A really interesting book. The first three chapters alone are worth getting the book for their explanation of how we’ve traditionally thought about generations in America.

Dr. Chromey starts out by asking very basic questions. What exactly constitutes a “generation?” What’s the criteria for saying when a generation starts and stops? How long is a generation?

The author explains that traditionally it has been major political and socio-historical events that have been used as generational markers. Using that criteria there are currently six living generations in America:

·         G.I. Generation (1901-1924) – WWI, Great Depression

·         Silent Generation (1925-1942) – Pearl Harbor and WWII

·         Boomer Generation (1943-1960) – Eisenhower, JFK, Vietnam

·         Gen X (1961-1981) – Watergate, Iran Hostages, Reagan

·         Millennials (1982-1999) – Desert Storm, OJ, Columbine, 9-11, Katrina

·         Gen Z (the author uses iTech) – Those born after 2000 – Great Recession, War on Terror

Drawing on the work of Neil Howe and William Strauss, Dr. Chromey illustrates how identifying generations, going as far back to the middle ages, has focused primarily on these sorts of random historical events.

The book challenges this approach by arguing instead that technological change is what shapes the personality of a generation:

Technology is what creates our cultural awareness. It could be argued that the “printing press” generations were more “aware” because of Gutenberg’s invention. The historical events that shaped them were exposed and explained through print technology. The same could be said for radio generations or television generations or web generations. The automobile and airplane allowed people to travel great distances, to personally experience what they once only heard through story or read in print.

In short, it is the technology of a generation that that determines its personality.

Chromey also offers the interesting observation that most of us begin to retain memory of cultural events between the ages of 5-7. Consequently, it’s very difficult for someone, like myself, born in 1998, and so classified a Millennial, to relate to the Columbine High School massacre (even though it’s one of the seminal events used to identify Millennials), because I was too busy cutting teeth to remember it. On the other hand, my generational psyche was formed by other, later events like the War on Terror. Therefore, I identify more with Gen Z. Essentially, we are the product of certain technologies that shape us between our tenth and twenty-fifth birthdays.

The remaining chapters make the authors case in more detail – covering technologies from the invention of the telephone to the iPhone. From automobiles to robotics.

Any criticism? I wish the author would have addressed the work of Ray Kurzweil and what it may mean for the very concept of a “generation.”  For readers unfamiliar with Kurzweil, in his blockbuster book, “The Singularity is Near,” he predicts that technological change, already growing at an exponential rate, will reach a point in time (he predicts 2045) at which technological growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unforeseeable changes to civilization and the human species.

Won’t that be awesome to see?

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About the Author

Rick Chromey is a cultural explorer, social historian and generational futurist. He’s also served as a pastor, professor, speaker/trainer, and consultant. In 2017, he founded MANNA! Educational Services International to inspire and equip leaders, teachers, pastors, and parents. Rick has a doctorate in leadership and the emerging culture; and travels the U.S. and world to speak on culture, faith, history, education, and leadership topics. He has authored over a dozen books on leadership, natural motivation, creative communication, and classroom management. He lives with his wife, Linda, in Meridian, Idaho.

Connect with the Author:
website ~ youtube ~ facebook ~ twitter ~ instagram

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Follow the tour here.

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Giveaway

Win 1 of 2 print or 1 of 3 ebook of
GENTECH (open USA & Canada)
(5 winners)

Enter here.

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Book Review: The Boy From The Woods by Harlan Coben @HarlanCoben @GrandCentralPub

The Boy From The Woods
Harlan Coben
Grand Central Publishing, March 2020
ISBN 978-1-5387-4814-5
Hard Cover

At the start of this novel we are introduced to the boy referred to in the book’s title.  Thirty years ago, Wilde, as he is now known, was discovered living in the woods in a rural area of New Jersey.  According to the police there was never any report of a missing child. No relatives ever came forward to claim him.

Intriguing as that opening of Coben’s new stand alone is, the novel moves to the present and concerns another child who has gone missing. Her name is Naomi Pines and she’s a teenager who attends a local high school in the town of Westville, New Jersey.   Matthew, a  fellow student, is concerned for Naomi’s welfare.  He’s contacted his grandmother, Hester Crimstein, a well-known New York criminal attorney to enlist her help.

Hester sets things in motion in the search to find Naomi, calling on the local police and contacting Wilde, who’d been befriended by Hester’s son David, Matthew’s father, years ago.

The relationships in this novel are complicated and there are a few more characters  to meet who are involved in a political plot pertaining to a candidate running for President of the United States.

I’m sure you’ll agree that this might be hard to keep track of,  but rest assured you are in the hands of a well known and loved Master.  Jump in…you’ll be glad you did.  I thoroughly enjoyed this and hope Mr. Coben will return to with a sequel so that we might learn more about the Wilde boy from the woods.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, May 2020.

Book Review: Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg @LeeGoldberg

Lost Hills
Eve Ronin #1
Lee Goldberg
Thomas & Mercer, January 2020
ISBN 978-1542091893
Trade Paperback

Deputy Eve Ronin’s has only recently joined the Robbery-Homicide Division of Lost Hills, L.A.  She’s partnered with Duncan Pavone and they’ve been called to attend a homicide, but  after some argument with their adjoining district detectives already on the scene…LAPD agrees the homicide is in their jurisdiction.  Eve hides her disappointment, but on their way back to the Precinct a call from Dispatch sends them to a nearby location, to another possible homicide.

At the address they are met by a woman who explains her friend Tanya was supposed to pick her up that morning. The two of them were going to be extras in a movie shoot.  Concerned, the friend had come by to check on Tanya and noticed through the window, what looked like blood on the floor. She also mentions that Tanya, who has two children, has been talking recently about leaving her boyfriend.

Eve and Duncan check the house and find signs of what appears to be an attempt to clean up a lot of blood. Continuing their search Eve notes Tanya’s car is missing and there are more blood droplets in the garage.

This is the start of an unusual and interesting case.  Where is Tanya?  Where are her children? Are they alive? What happened in the house?  Eve is determined to find the answers to these challenging questions.

Eve Ronin is a great character and this reader was quickly swept up in her investigation.  Eve wants badly to be accepted by the guys she works with but knows she has to earn their respect.  Finding out what happened to Tanya and her children becomes a priority.  Eve doggedly pursues every avenue as she attempts to find the killer, and bring him to justice.

Does Eve find the killer?  You’ll have to check it out for yourself.. And believe me you won’t be disappointed.  Eve is tenacious and determined and leaves no stone unturned in her efforts to solve the mystery, even putting herself in grave danger.

While this author has an impressive number of titles, this was my first introduction but I assure you it won’t be my last.

Highly recommended.

Respectively submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, April 2020.

Book Review: Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson @JoshilynJackson @WmMorrowBooks

Never Have I Ever
Joshilyn Jackson
William Morrow, July 2019
ISBN 978-0-06-285531-2
Hardcover

Amy Whey is a happily married woman. She has a wonderful husband, a newborn son and a teenage step-daughter, all of whom she adores. She also has a group of woman friends in the neighbourhood. Her life is going well until a newcomer in the area joins Amy and her friends on their book club night.

Angelica Roux, or Roux as she insists they call her, charms the group and as the wine flows she suggests they play a fun game instead of discussing the chosen book. It’s a drinking game, a daring game, a game of revealing personal secrets.

At first it seems like harmless fun, but Amy senses something more is happening here and she grows increasingly uncomfortable as it turns serious. And later, after everyone heads home, Roux confronts Amy, telling her she knows all her personal secrets and will reveal them to her husband and friends unless Amy gives her what she wants; what she deserves.

Amy does have secrets and there is little doubt that Roux somehow knows what Amy did in the past, and if that knowledge is revealed, Amy is sure she will lose everything. Shocked and more than a little frightened, Amy is caught in a trap. Roux leaves, but not before telling Amy she’ll be back to let her know exactly what she wants.

Amy can’t imagine how Roux found out, but she is determined to find a way to protect her family and her marriage.

A cat and mouse game ensues. Amy manages to buy herself some time, counter-attacking as best she can, by doing some digging of her own in an attempt to neutralize Roux’s threat. As she’s struggling to keep her life on track, Roux seems to have the upper hand. The tension escalates. Amy feels she’s fighting a losing battle.

All the characters in this novel are well-drawn rounded people, especially Amy and I quickly got caught up in her predicament. I was on Amy’s side from the outset, anxious and eager for her to find a viable solution. There were many twists and turns to keep this reader turning pages. Amy’s determination and resourcefulness seemed to know no bounds, but Roux, a formidable opponent, was not about to give up.

The resolution was as stunning as it was unexpected, but none the less a fitting one.

I look forward to reading more from this author. Give this one a try, you won’t regret it.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, February 2020.

Book Review: Dead at First Sight by Peter James @peterjamesuk @panmacmillan

Dead at First Sight
Roy Grace #15
Peter James
Pan Macmillan, August 2019
ISBN 978-1-5098-1641-5
Hardcover

Peter James is a well known British mystery/thriller writer. Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is the protagonist in his fifteen and counting series set in Sussex, England. While it’s generally a good idea to start a series from the first book,(Dead Simple), I’ve been reading them in no particular order…

His latest, Dead at First Sight, deals with a crime that has recently been in the news all over the world. You may you have heard of On-line Dating websites where men and women search for a soulmate or a companion. The crime that is being perpetrated is one where a con-man or woman responds to someone on one of these sites and over messages and emails a relationship is started. It doesn’t take long for the con-man or woman to earn the trust of their victim and in a very short time the victim is agreeing to help their new friend by sending money to the con-man/woman. Over a period of weeks or months the amounts steadily increase, with the promise of repayment, but instead the victim is taken to the cleaners.

In this novel D.S. Grace is called to investigate the suicide of a woman in Brighton. As D.S. Grace investigates her death, a man comes forward to inform the police that his identity and photograph has been used to scam a number of local women, on a dating site. The cases begin to merge and it isn’t long before D.S. Grace realizes that his suicide victim might well have been murdered possibly after realizing she had been duped by the man she thought would be the answer to her romantic dreams.

D.S. Grace soon learns that he is dealing with much more than one con-man, and that there is in fact a whole network of criminals who will do anything to avoid the police and who won’t think twice to use deadly force to silence their victims and stop the police from finding them and ending their lucrative scam.

Peter James weaves an exciting and intriguing tale. D.S. Roy Grace is a strong, well drawn character and spending time with him as he unravels this complex plot is well worth the time.

Respectfully submitted,

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, January 2020.