Book Review: Skeletons in the Attic by Judy Penz Sheluk @JudyPenzSheluk @AnAudiobookworm

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Title: Skeletons in the Attic
Series: A Marketville Mystery #1
Author: Judy Penz Sheluk
Narrator: Claira Jordyn
Publication Date: July 31, 2017

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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Skeletons in the Attic
A Marketville Mystery #1
Judy Penz Sheluk
Narrated by Claira Jordyn
Judy Penz Sheluk, July 2017
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

What goes on behind closed doors doesn’t always stay there.

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville – a house she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.

Callie’s not keen on dredging up a 30-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic? Find out.

Callie and her dad got on just fine without her mother, who disappeared when Callie was a young child, and she’s going to miss her dad now that he’s passed. It’s odd that he left her a house she didn’t know existed, odder still that the will requires that she live there for a year to get the rest of her inheritance. It’s not a tremendous amount of money but she’ll get half of it to live on for the year and then she can sell the house if she wants to. The most surprising provision is that she must investigate her mother’s murder…but Callie had never been told that her mother was murdered.

As Callie follows one thread after another, some taking her deep into the past, unexpected questions arise that could lead to answers she doesn’t want. Could her dad’s 30-story fall on a construction site have any connection? Why do her grandparents hold such animosity towards her when she obviously couldn’t have been the cause of all the trouble so many years ago? How does Misty Rivers, who calls herself a psychic, fit into this mess and, most of all, is Callie’s mother really dead? Callie’s lucky to have a new friend, Chantelle, and neighbor Royce for support and to help her get to the truth.

Claira Jordyn narrates with a very pleasing tone and she does most voices quite well. I did think there was not enough emotion or energy; it was more as though she was reading out loud without any kind of performance. Having said that, I’d be happy to listen to her again.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2019.

About the Author

Judy Penz Sheluk is the Amazon international bestselling author of the Glass Dolphin Mystery and Marketville Mystery series. Her short stories can be found in several collections, including Live Free or Tri and The Best Laid Plans, which she edited. Judy is also a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors. Find her at http://www.judypenzsheluk.com.

WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreadsInstagram

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About the Narrator

Claira Jordyn is an on-camera and voice over actress based in New York City. She can most recently be heard on a variety of television and radio commercials encouraging you to ski in Colorado, shop at Old Navy and also to try a particularly popular makeup brand this holiday season. She can also be heard reading countless books including Opaque, The Endless Horizons Sagas and an upcoming retelling of children’s fairytales. She lives just north of New York with her husband and super mutt Junebug, loves telling stories for a living and is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to do that every day.

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Play an excerpt here.

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Giveaway

Win 5 Judy Penz Sheluk Audiobooks!

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Book Review: Dig Your Grave by Steven Cooper

Dig Your Grave
A Gus Parker and Alex Mills Novel #2
Steven Cooper
Seventh Street Books, October 2018
ISBN 978-1-63388-480-9
Trade Paperback

This is the second mystery involving Phoenix police detective Alex Mills and his psychic friend, Gus Parker. The 25th anniversary of the disappearance of a university student while on spring break in Mexico is approaching. A young woman went to a party and never returned. But now men are dying, found in cemeteries in graves they have dug for themselves. Cryptic notes, which they wrote, are with their bodies. Moreover, these dead men aren’t just anybody. They’re all extremely wealthy men, prominent in the community. It’s Gus, with his paranormal abilities, who makes a connection between the men and the girl’s disappearance, but it’s Alex who breaks the case.

Meanwhile, Gus is happy with his girlfriend, famous musician Billie Welch. But someone keeps poking around her fabulous house, breaking through the security. Threats are made. But are they aimed at Billie or at Gus?

Material is often humorously posed in Cooper’s novels, but it’s all serious stuff. The story proceeds at a good pace, the characters for the most part are compelling, although some of the rich men’s wives seemed a little stereotyped to me. And the end comes to a satisfactory conclusion, as all books should do.  But even so, there’s something about this one that keeps me from totally believing the premise and freely suspending my disbelief. Bad people a little too wonky and over-the-top? Maybe not a lot of sympathy for college kids on benders? Someone waiting twenty-five years to make a move? I’m not sure. If any other reader out there can put her finger on it, let me know. That said, I truly did enjoy the book and can recommend it.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, April 2019.
https://carolcriggercom.sitelio.me/
Author of Five Days, Five Dead, Hereafter and Hometown Homicide.

Book Review: The Circle: Taken by Sage Sask

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Title: Taken
Series: The Circle, Book 1
Author: Sage Sask
Publisher: SBSK Corp.
Publication Date: March 7, 2019
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Amazon // The Book Depository // Indiebound

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Taken
The Circle, Book 1
Sage Sask
SBSK Corp., March 2019
ISBN 978-1733579391
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Abandoned at eleven with no memory of her family, Alexia seeks her true identity. Under the new government’s regime, sixteen year-olds are evaluated for their desire to harm others. Throughout the test, Alexia struggles to conceal her psychic ability to read the past and future of anyone she touches. When her secret is revealed, Alexia is taken to an island where other highly skilled agents and readers like her train to survive.

As Alexia gains more control over her abilities, she desperately tries to piece together her elusive past. In her quest for the truth, Alexia’s loyalties are tested when forced to make an impossible choice between those she loves and the family she can’t remember.

A spell-binding adventure of friendship, love, unforeseen twists and learning that our most dangerous enemies are often the people we trust the most. A captivating novel filled with forbidden romance and shocking betrayals that demand the question – Can One Decision Determine Your Destiny?

Most of the time, I either like a main character with few or no reservations or I close the book early because I can’t make a connection with the protagonist. Alexia evoked altogether different feelings because of her complexity and because the author allowed her to have faults, very natural faults at that. Alexia appealed to me because she’s not the near-perfect being who rarely makes a misstep. In essence, she is in search of herself while she learns some very valuable life lessons.

Taken is in some ways a study of good versus evil and how difficult it can be to know the difference, who can be trusted. I especially enjoyed this arc of the story because it’s such an essential part of a person’s growth and watching Alexia learn these things made her seem quite real. The Circle itself is full of contradictions, a quagmire of choices and decisions she has to face…much like what we’re all faced with in growing up.

Most of all, I was intrigued by Alexia’s search for her past and for a path to connect with those around her. She’s a girl I hope to see more of in the future.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2019.

About the Authors

Sage S.A.S.K. is a team consisting of USA Today, Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestselling author Sejal Badani and a group of young adult writers. Kiran, Akash and Sienna are the creative force behind the story concepts, editing, social media, marketing, and book trailers for the novel.

Kiran

Kiran is still processing the bait and switch pulled by his parents of having been promised a sports car and ending up with their old minivan. When he’s not running track or falling asleep in class, Kiran can be found driving around with his friends blasting Travis Scott.

 

Website // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Tumblr // Facebook // Goodreads

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Follow the tour:

Week One:

4/15/2019- Lone Tree Reviews– Excerpt
4/16/2019- Lisa Loves Literature– Spotlight
4/17/2019- Jheartlovesbooks– Review
4/18/2019- BookHounds– Interview
4/19/2019- Reese’s Reviews– Review

Week Two:

4/22/2019- Writing on the Sunny Side of the Street– Excerpt
4/23/2019- Life With No Plot– Review
4/24/2019- Daily Waffle– Excerpt
4/25/2019- Two Chicks on Books– Interview
4/26/2019- Dorky Girl and Skeletor– Spotlight

Week Three:

4/29/2019- Buried Under Books– Review
4/30/2019- Smada’s Book Smack– Spotlight
5/1/2019- Taking It One Book at a time– Review
5/2/2019- A Dream Within A Dream– Excerpt
5/3/2019- Smada’s Book Smack– Excerpt

Week Four:

5/6/2019- Adventures Thru Wonderland– Review
5/7/2019- Mama Panda Bear– Review
5/8/2019- Jaime’s World– Guest Post
5/9/2019- A Gingerly Review– Review
5/10/2019- Book Briefs– Review

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Giveaway

3 winners will receive finished signed or unsigned
copies of THE CIRCLE:TAKEN, US Only.

Enter here.

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Book Review: Down to No Good by Earl Javorsky—and a Giveaway!

Down to No Good
Charlie Miner Book 2
Earl Javorsky
The Story Plant, November 2017
ISBN 978-1-61188-253-7
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Private investigator Charlie Miner, freshly revived from his own murder, gets a call from Homicide Detective Dave Putnam. Self-styled “psychic to the stars” Tamara Gale has given crucial information about three murders, and the brass thinks it makes the Department look bad. Dave wants Charlie to help figure out the angle, since he has first-hand experience with the inexplicable. Trouble is, Charlie, just weeks after his full-death experience, once again has severe cognitive problems and may get them both killed.

Charlie Miner is a most unusual man. He’s a private investigator, a single father to a teenaged girl, a drug addict and, oh yeah, he can’t die. That last is because of an experimental therapy that resulted in a very unexpected side effect. Not many people know this about Charlie but his friend, Dave, does and has pretty much accepted this state of affairs even if he doesn’t understand it and finds it really hard to believe. Dave has his own failings but he and Charlie are good friends.

Dave asks Charlie to help him look into a psychic, Tamara, who has raised red flags about herself with her statements about some murders. When another investigator who may have had information about Tamara is murdered, the stakes get higher and Charlie’s ability to leave his own body may be just what is needed to get to the bottom of who Tamara is and the truth behind several killings.

One of my biggest pet peeves about crime fiction comes into play when the tale is told in first person present tense and that’s the case here. It’s impossible for me to become really engaged because I’m so distracted at the idea that I’m supposed to believe the protagonist is telling me what’s happening in real time. What, is he speaking to me as he goes about his investigative business? Because of this, I can’t say I was totally enthralled but I did like Charlie and Dave and their weird story. In fact, I’d say the author’s strength really lies in his characters, likeable and not.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2017.

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Purchase Links:

              

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An Excerpt from Down to No Good

Chapter 2

Wednesday, August 31

Dave Putnam had been a cop for over thirty years, but nothing had prepared him for the last thirty-six hours.

The whole fiasco had started with Charlie Miner, whom he had known and even occasionally worked with over the years, calling him and asking for a favor. Offering him a deal. Twisting his arm a bit with a preposterous story, telling him he’d prove it and that Dave could take several murders off the books. Celebrities. Big money. An investment scam.

And, against his better judgment, Dave had gone along. Two days ago, he had transported Charlie’s daughter over the border from Tijuana—the favor—and that night met Charlie at a restaurant to hear him pitch his case. Later, when he got Charlie’s text, he went to the agreed-upon location to back Charlie’s play and round up the perpetrators.

In the meantime, he’d had a few too many. It made him sloppy, and it made him late. So, instead of calling for backup and showing up fresh and ready, he played cowboy. He took his biggest gun, an unregistered Desert Eagle .50 caliber that his father had given him, out of his trunk and left the restaurant parking lot with the gun on the passenger seat, squinting out at the road and concentrating on staying in his lane.

He got lost in Santa Monica Canyon and had to backtrack to the Coast Highway and try again. This time he wound up on Amalfi Drive, heading up toward Pacific Palisades. The frustration called for a hit off the pint he kept under the seat.

When he finally got to the site, he came around the side of the house and saw a man with a silenced gun standing over two bodies. One of them was Charlie Miner’s. When he saw the silencer swing up to point at him, Dave fired. The bullet blew the man into a hole that had clearly just been dug in the yard. The noise was ridiculous, but it clarified the situation: Dave hoisted Charlie’s body over his shoulder and started back toward his car. As an afterthought, he went back and picked up one of several SentrySafe H2300 cases nestled in the dirt.

^
Now he was sitting in his apartment, watching Charlie Miner’s corpse, studying it as if for a clue, an answer, perhaps, to the mystery of why he, Dave, had behaved so badly. Leaving the scene of an officer-involved shooting. Stealing from a crime scene. Hiding a body.

The first two he could justify: he was tanked, and the case he took out of the ground just looked interesting.

But taking Charlie Miner’s body, with three bloody holes in its face, and dumping it in the back seat of his car, and then driving home and carrying it to his apartment—there was no explaining that.

Except . . .

Dave had known there was something off about Charlie. Not just off, but weird. More than weird—inexplicable. Dave had dug up morgue photos of an unidentified DOA, gunshot wounds, that had somehow disappeared. And though he had denied it, Charlie Miner was the guy in the photos.

And so the vigil. Turn the phone ringer off. Stick to beer. Wash the blood off Charlie’s face. Watch the body. Nod off now and then.

Watch the body.

It happened at noon. He was about to doze when he saw a finger twitch. Then the fingers on both hands flexed, curled into fists, and flexed again.

Excerpt from Down to No Good by Earl Javorsky. Copyright © 2017 by Earl Javorsky. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Daniel Earl Javorsky was born in Berlin and immigrated to the US. He has been, among other things, a delivery boy, musician, product rep in the chemical entertainment industry, university music teacher, software salesman, copy editor, proofreader, and author of two previous novels, Down Solo and Trust Me.

He is the black sheep of a family of high artistic achievers.

              

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Follow the tour:

10/30 Showcase @ The Book Divas Reads
10/31 Guest post @ Mythical Books
11/02 Showcase @ Chill and read
11/03 Excerpt @ Suspense Magazine
11/06 Guest post @ Writers and Authors
11/06 Showcase @ The Bookworm Lodge
11/08 Showcase @ The Pulp and Mystery Shelf
11/09 Reviewe @ Cheryls Book Nook
11/10 Guest post @ Loris Reading Corner
11/12 Review @ Buried Under Books – GIVEAWAY
11/14 Interview @ Cozy Up With Kathy
11/15 Showcase @ 411 on Books, Authors, and Publishing News
11/17 Showcase @ Aurora Bs Book Blog
11/20 Review @ CMash Reads
11/21 Interview @ CMash Reads
11/26 Review @ The World As I See It
11/27 Blog Talk Radio w/ Fran Lewis
11/27 Review @ Just Reviews
11/29 Interview @ A Blue Million Books
12/01 Review @ Its All About the Book
12/01 Review @ The Literary Apothecary
12/05 Review @ Quiet Fury Books
12/06 Review @ Lets Talk About Books
12/12 Review @ Lauras Interests
12/30 Review @ Bound 4 Escape
01/05/18 Review @ Celticladys Reviews

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Giveaway

To enter the drawing for an ebook
copy of Down Solo, 1st in the
series,
leave a comment below.
The winning
name will be drawn
Wednesday evening,
November 15th,
and the book will be
sent out after
the tour ends in early January.

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Book Review: Room for Doubt by Nancy Cole Silverman

Room for Doubt
A Carol Childs Mystery #4
Nancy Cole Silverman
Henery Press, July 2017
ISBN 978-1-63511-235-1
Trade Paperback

 

From the publisher—

When radio reporter Carol Childs is called to a crime scene in the Hollywood Hills at five thirty in the morning, she’s convinced it must be a publicity stunt to promote a new movie. That is, until she sees the body hanging from the center of the Hollywood sign. The police are quick to rule it a suicide, but something doesn’t add up for Carol. Particularly after a mysterious caller named Mustang Sally confesses to the murder on the air and threatens to kill again.

With the help of an incorrigible PI, her best friend, and a kooky psychic, Carol is drawn into the world of contract killers and women scorned. As she races to find the real killer, she finds herself faced with a decision that will challenge everything she thought she knew.

Journalists of one sort or another are always good mystery protagonists, aren’t they? Naturally nosy, they’re in a profession that gives them a modicum of justification to be in the middle of an investigation and they almost always have access to resources the typical cozy sleuth doesn’t have. They also have a built-in platform, assuming some editor or producer doesn’t put the kibosh on things. Carol Childs is just such an amateur sleuth.

When Carol’s boss sends her to the scene of a death by hanging, it’s more to simply report rather than a true investigation but she can’t help thinking the police detective jumped to the wrong conclusion when he calls it a suicide. She doesn’t have any real evidence, just a gut feeling, but a local private investigator, Gerhardt Chasen (Chase), soon convinces her there might be a whole lot more to this story.

Along with her investigating what turns out to be quite a controversial set of killings, Carol has a personal side that’s an equally important part of the story and I enjoyed my first adventure with her. She’s one of those people with a kind of glamorous job but a pretty run-of-the-mill home life, warts and all, and I found myself quite comfortable with her. In fact, she reminded me a little of myself at her age for some reason although I didn’t have a psychic hanging around or, for that matter, a PI hooked on lollipops.

Without giving anything away, I should warn readers that this particular mystery doesn’t end the way you might expect but you’ll have to make your own decision about whether the ending is satisfactory. It was for me, even though it wasn’t exactly right, and I appreciate the author’s willingness to go a ways out on a limb. We crime fiction readers don’t see this sort of thing every day 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2017.

Book Reviews: Day Shift by Charlaine Harris and Lowcountry Boneyard by Susan M. Boyer

Day ShiftDay Shift
A Novel of Midnight, Texas #2
Charlaine Harris
Ace Books, May 2015
ISBN 978-0-425-26319-8
Hardcover

From the publisher—

There is no such thing as bad publicity, except in Midnight, Texas, where the residents like to keep to themselves. Even in a town full of secretive people, Olivia Charity is an enigma. She lives with the vampire Lemuel, but no one knows what she does; they only know that she’s beautiful and dangerous.

Psychic Manfred Bernardo finds out just how dangerous when he goes on a working weekend to Dallas and sees Olivia there with a couple who are both found dead the next day. To make matters worse, one of Manfred’s regular—and very wealthy—clients dies during a reading.

Manfred returns from Dallas embroiled in scandal and hounded by the press. He turns to Olivia for help; somehow he knows that the mysterious Olivia can get things back to normal. As normal as things get in Midnight…

It’s practically impossible for Charlaine Harris to disappoint me so I can really only say one thing negative about Day Shift—it’s not my favorite of all her work. You could look at it another way, that this falls behind such series as Sookie Stackhouse, Harper Connelly, Aurora Teagarden and Lily Bard, not to mention various non-series books. However, placing it behind all those other Harris books that I love so much doesn’t exactly say it’s no good, now does it? Let’s face it, the woman can’t be perfect ALL the time, just close to it 😉

Midnight, Texas, is a most unusual place as are its inhabitants. In fact, psychic Manfred Bernardo is probably a tad more normal than some but he certainly never expects to find Olivia in a deadly situation or, worse yet, himself. It’s Olivia the town turns to in hopes of solving the case and returning Midnight to its usual obscurity when the ravenous press follows Manfred home. In the meantime, there is a lot of mystery surrounding the renovation of an old hotel into a home for some senior citizens and lodging for temporary workers. Why anybody would want to open such a place in this dusty little town is a matter for much conjecture and some alarm.

As can be anticipated in any Charlaine Harris book, there’s a good deal of humor in Day Shift along with the relatively slight mysteries and the various characters are all a tad strange and very interesting. All that aside, I didn’t quite connect with the players or the story but it’s my own fault for not reading the first book before this one. Normally, reading out of order doesn’t bother me in the least but it was a mistake this time so I caution readers new to the series—read Midnight Crossroad first. I intend to rectify my error forthwith 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2015.

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Lowcountry BoneyardLowcountry Boneyard
A Liz Talbot Mystery #3
Susan M. Boyer
Henery Press, April 2015
ISBN 978-1-941962-47-3
Trade Paperback
Also available in hardcover

From the publisher—

Where is Kent Heyward? The twenty-three-year-old heiress from one of Charleston’s oldest families vanished a month ago. When her father hires private investigator Liz Talbot, Liz suspects the most difficult part of her job will be convincing the patriarch his daughter tired of his overbearing nature and left town. That’s what the Charleston Police Department believes.

But behind the garden walls South of Broad, family secrets pop up like weeds in the azaleas. The neighbors recollect violent arguments between Kent and her parents. Eccentric twin uncles and a gaggle of cousins covet the family fortune. And the lingering spirit of a Civil-War-era debutante may know something if Colleen, Liz’s dead best friend, can get her to talk.

Liz juggles her case, the partner she’s in love with, and the family she adores. But the closer she gets to what has become of Kent, the closer Liz dances to her own grave.

I’m drawn to crime fiction set in the South, partly because I’m a Southerner myself but also because there’s a certain “feel” that makes such books just a little more interesting to me. Can’t identify or explain it; it’s just there. Whatever my nebulous reasons might be, Lowcountry Boneyard and Susan M. Boyer did not let me down.

Liz Talbot is a woman who knows who she is besides being really good at what she does so she gives the impression from the beginning that she will, indeed, get to the bottom of the task in hand. In this case, the disappearance of a wealthy society girl will lead Liz and her significant other and partner, Nate Andrews, in a number of different directions and there is no shortage of dark secrets in Kent Heyward’s family. Twists and turns abound before Liz will ultimately find herself in grave jeopardy.

I truly enjoyed this third book in Ms. Boyer‘s series (having read the first, Lowcountry Boil, a few years ago) and Liz is a woman I’d like to have as a real-life friend but Colleen, Liz’s long-deceased best friend, appealed to me the most. She’s a ghost who proves herself to be helpful when needed but also adds a humorous touch, especially when she shows up in unexpected places. Still, Colleen should be considered the invaluable third investigator on the team.

This is one of those series that can be read out of order if need be although, naturally, it’s probably best not to. I didn’t feel there were gaping holes because I hadn’t read the second book but I do intend to go get it; that will tide me over till Lowcountry Bordello comes out in November.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2015.

Book Review: The Burning Girl by Lisa Unger

The Burning GirlThe Burning Girl
A Whispers Story #2
Lisa Unger
Pocket Star, November 2014
ISBN 978-1-4767-9779-3
Ebook

From the publisher—

Ten years after Eloise Montgomery discovers her psychic abilities, she is a full-fledged working psychic, with a partner and a business. Now, in The Burning Girl, she’s discovering some disturbing things: secrets about her genealogy that are, perhaps, best left in the past; that her granddaughter Finley has powers of her own; and that not all of Eloise’s visitors actually want to be helped. Some of them are just looking for trouble…

When The Burning Girl opens, we find Eloise vacuuming while a young girl glowers on her couch. That child isn’t really there; she’s one of those lost girls Eloise “listens” to when her psychic attunement kicks in. Almost fourteen years after the deaths of her husband and older daughter, Eloise is at something of a crossroads in her life and the strain of her unwanted knowledge of people in terrible peril has clearly worn on her. Her younger daughter, Amanda, lives as far away as she can get because she’s so unnerved by her mother even though she cares about her deeply. Eloise’s partner, Ray, wants more from her than she can give and Eloise sees no relief ahead from the burden of knowing things that can be so very painful. A woman named Agatha may be the only one who can save Eloise from falling victim to her own sensabilities.

Eloise is a woman nearly consumed by the emotions of others and it’s apparent that the visions and the whispers are in control. I’ve never had any such experiences but her pain is palpable and I had no doubt, as I was reading, that she was nearing the edge of sanity. It was like seeing an old acquaintance years after you first met and wondering what terrible travails life had brought her in the intervening years. Her struggle to survive seeps through the pages and I frequently wanted to put an arm around her for just a moment.

The first novella in this trilogy had more edge to it but, by the time The Burning Girl ends, I really did feel that Eloise might at last be finding a kind of peace. I’m looking forward to Ms. Unger’s The Three Sisters to see how this nice woman will fare.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2014.