Bells on her toes by Diana J. Febry

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I love this author. As a huge fan of mysteries, with bodies and without, and having grown up on a diet of Dick Francis and Ruth Rendell, Diana J. Febry’s books are right up my street. They are the kind of books that you can easily finish in one sitting. I love the racing background, there’s just something about horses that draws me in.

But the reason that I pick up this author’s books is for the intriguing read. It is murder mystery at its best with suspenseful murders, enough clues dropped to keep you guessing, and let me warn you that you will be guessing till the end. She manages to give the tale a final twist and as always surprises you when she wraps it up.

The characters are written very well and DCI Peter Hatherall and DI Fiona Williams come with their own baggage which is delicately interwoven into the main story. The background life of these investigative officers makes them very real and you want to know what is happening in their lives. I realised that I’ve missed them when I picked up this book. It’s been a while since I read her last book and felt like I was catching up with their lives. I’m as hooked by what is going on in their lives as I am with the murder itself.

Add to this a whole lot of, not side stories, but more of interesting background of other issues and you will be riveted till you finish. Pick up one of her books and you will want to read them all!

Dying Thoughts by Joey Paul

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Dying Thoughts is a young adult mystery at its heart, but Joey Paul has made it so much more. It is a funny and entertaining story of young Tara’s ‘gift’, though she doesn’t consider it one. The first person narrative is neatly done and takes us on this journey in a sixteen year old’s shoes remarkably well. Tara’s introspective conversations are witty and does not grate (I’ve found that if not done well, it can ruin a book for you. It has ruined quite a few books for me.) But Joey has done a great job. Tara herself is very endearing and her relationship with her father seems very real. The mystery itself serves as a backdrop to Tara’s journey of self discovery, but is suspenseful and keeps you turning pages.

I think this book serves as a great introduction to Tara’s gift and how she realizes that she could be in a position to help people. I see there are more books about Tara Leverton’s adventures. I look forward to reading them. Five stars, Joey Paul!

Wired for sound by Cherime McFarlane

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For those who love rock and roll and reading, this is the perfect book for you. The author has an in depth knowledge of bands, tours and the behind the scenes action of a major tour. As with all artists, tempers run high and emotions get out of hand. Cherime Mcfarlane brings out the essence of the Scot in Hamish beautifully and his conflict over his love for Lori and his doubts about her, make that love story very interesting. A good mystery and an enjoyable read!

Savage Surrogate by Dorothy Mercer

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The Savage Surrogate caught me completely by surprise. Though the summary hints at suspense and mystery, I thought it was mainly a romantic novel. This is the first McBride book that I’ve read. Now I want to read the others. A dashing personality, suave and stylish, Dorothy Mercer has created a male character that women will find appealing.

The book holds your attention from the start and you are drawn into the murky underworld along with the protagonists, as they dig deeper to figure out what happened to Fran. The characters of Fran and Juliette have been given equal space and developed well. Both come out as strong, independent women. A captivating read…one I would recommend!

A lovely review for Circle of Five by Marcha Fox

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“A Circle of Five” kicks off the “Pha-yul Trilogy”, a Young Adult fantasy series. Rather than plunge the reader abruptly into a fantasy world, however, the author slowly transitions to other realms from the daily routine of five “normal” teenagers as they confront challenges encountered following a literal lightning strike which occurs during an after school detention session overseen by the school’s football coach.

The author did an excellent job naming the characters such that they stand out as individuals within a variety of races, ethnicities and financial situations. By the end of this volume you feel as if you know each of them inside and out which is accomplished through the omniscient viewpoint handled in such a way that, to the author’s credit, was never confusing.

Each of the five has his or her own problems, mostly related to their family situation. The details provided for each accurately demonstrate the insecurities and personality issues which can arise from a person’s home environment. These are ordinary teens living anything but a charmed life, other than the fact that most of their parents are affluent or were at some point. Just about everyone should be able to relate to one or more of the situations described from sibling rivalry to neglectful, disinterested or inebriated parents. This factor alone makes this story relevant to both teens and adults, specifically parents, who may see a bit of themselves from the perspective of teens. Life at that age can be overwhelming enough as they try to figure out who and what they are, much less having to do so with a lack of parental emotional support. In today’s world where most homes require two incomes to survive, to say nothing of the financial and emotional struggle of single parents, this situation is probably far too common.

These distinct individuals are not even friends as the story begins. In fact, some of them overtly dislike each other, contributing to plenty of conflict as each character struggles with their own personal issues, dealing with classes, plus being thrust into this exclusive group which involves grueling training they must undergo before and after school. Furthermore, all of this is required without knowing the whys or wherefores of where these abilities came from. While they get a glimpse of what these talents are they cannot control them at will, thus necessitating the training. About all they’ve seen was a quick flash trip to Tibet where they discover the coach is clearly an important figure who reports to a woman even higher in status in that world.

This story is the antithesis of waking up with superpowers and instinctively knowing how to use them, showing it may not be the bed of roses most would expect. The idea that development any skill to a high level requires discipline and hard work is an important concept and life lesson nicely woven into the plot. The teens’ struggles with their daily routine, personality conflicts and typical high school situations brought the characters to life. Their mundane challenges were detailed, realistic and relatable, lending realism to the story but somewhat understating the fantasy element, which the cover and prologue imply. Thus, anyone expecting the book to be heavy on the fantasy side could be disappointed since there is far more reality within the pages than escaping to another realm. The characters as well as readers are left in the dark with regard to various details with a few revelations in the final chapter. Nonetheless, as the first book in a series these questions will most likely be addressed in the sequels which have the advantage of being populated with fully developed protagonists.