Book Reviews

May 16, 2015–What I’m Reading Now: In the Dark Season, by Vicki Lane. I met Vicki Lane a few weeks ago at a writers’ conference. After the conference, I went to my local library and checked out all the books in her Appalachian mystery series. I love them! This one was nominated for an Anthony in 2009.

Updated April 7, 2015: What I’m reading now: Meredith’s Wolf, by Judith Barban.

Updated January 10, 2015: What I’m reading now:

Hope–The Sapphire Prison, Book One, by Ed R. Green

Updated July 25, 2014

What I’m reading now:

Wisdom of Hair, by Kim Boykin.

Are We There Yet?, by Barbara Lunow.
Updated August 21, 2013

Heard any good books lately? I’ve been a fan of Louise Penny ever since her first book Still Life was published. Recently I listened to the audio edition of Bury Your Dead.


What a delight to hear the names of the main characters pronounced correctly. I took French in high school, and it was wonderful to hear the French phrases that are sprinkled throughout the novel. At first I could not imagine myself sitting still for 10 hours to listen to the novel, and so I devised different tasks that could be completed while listening, but by the last three CDs, I was sitting still, eagerly awaiting the next word to be uttered. I read the print version of the book several years ago and remembered most of the plot, but I still hung on every word, and I was touched to tears at two different points in the story.

Wonderful writing. Wonderful story. Wonderful audio edition. I highly recommend it!

Updated July 31, 2013

What I’m reading now:

Patriot Hearts: A Novel of the Founding Mothers, by Barbara Hambly. Ms. Hambly has combined the stories of Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Sally Hemings, and Dolley Madison into a highly readable novel of the lives and times of the Founding Mothers. I’ve learned quite a lot of history and have gained a better understanding of the issues of the time. A great read for women of all ages!

I met Silas House last year at the Peedee Literay Festival at Francis Marion University. His writing is very lyrical. The images are sharp. The dialogue and actions are authentic and realistic. A beautifully written novel! (added 11/25/11)

     Death in Zooville, by Carla Damron. (Added: 8/3/2011) Excellant book! Caleb Knowles is a social worker in private practice who also works at a homeless shelter. He faces isssues that are very real and timely. A compelling read, that puts the reader in the head of clients that hear voices. If you haven’t read Carla’s other books, check them out as well: Keeping Silent and Spider Blue. This is a truly intriguing mystery series.

A Duty to the Dead, by Charles Todd. The first in the Bess Crawford Mystery series. Bess is a nurse to British soldiers during World War I. What a delightfully strong character and a wonderful mystery. I did not figure it out! (Added 7/30/2011)

Brave Enemies, by Robert Morgan. A novel of the American Revolutionary War. The main character is first known as Josie and then as Joseph. What a compelling read! The reader sees clearly the war-torn country side through the eyes of a both a foot soldier and a traveling minister. A wonderful romance! (Added 7/30/2011)

Bury Your Dead, by Louise Penny. One of my favorite authors does it again. Two wonderful murder mystery tales interwoven as well as a historical mystery. I love the characters of the inhabitants of the fictional town of Three Pines, and now that I’ve met charactes living in Quebec City, I love them too. Wonderful mystery, wonderful writer. (7/14/2011)

Prayers for Sale, by Sandra Dallas. This book was not what I expected. The setting of this novel is a Colorado mining town during the Depression, but a lot of the stories tell of the history of mining for gold and for silver. A heart wrenching book in places.  (7/7/2011)

Wild Ride, by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer.

Best American Mystery Stories, 2008, edited by George Pelecanos.

What I’ve finished reading:

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley. What a delightful protagonist! Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce is extremely knowledgable about chemistry and a very good deductive reasoner. I’m looking forward to more mysteries in this series.

Morgue Mama, by C. R. Corwin. (Cozy mystery with a crusty main character, depicting investigative journalism. I did not figure this one out!)

Beguiled, by Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand. (Charleston setting, cozy mystery combines the efforts of a skating dog walker and a newspaper reporter. A wonderful read!)

Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter, by Blaize Clement. (Cozy mystery, a former deputy turned pet sitter helps to solve two murders, Siesta Key, Florida setting.)

Miss Julia Hits the Road, by Ann B. Ross. (A Poker Run to save ten families evicted from their homes? Will Miss Julia ride on a motorcycle? Read and find out!)

Strong As Death, by Sharan Newman. (Medieval mystery, a pilgrimage through the Pyrennes, Christians and Jews, an interesting mix.)

Death Takes Passage, by Sue Henry. (Cozy mystery, centennial celebration and voyage commemorating the Yukon Gold Strike.)

Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie. (Classic, Hercule Poirot mystery).

Reckless Faith, by Beth Guckenberger. (Nonfiction, Christian missionary, Mexico, orphans).

Moving is Murder, by Sara Rossett. (Contemporary cozy mystery, “Mom Zone”, Air Force, Washington state, tips for an organized move)

Strangled Prose; Malice a Maggody, by Joan Hess. (Cozy mysteries, the first in each series).

Grace in Thine Eyes, by Liz Curis Higgs. (Christian historical fiction, Scotland).

Time Is a River, by Mary Alice Monroe. (Contemporary, women’s fiction, North Carolina mountains, fly fishing, breast cancer survivor).

The Chase, by Clive Cussler. (Historical fiction, bank robber, detective, San Francisco, trains, first automobile).

A Tisket, a Tasket, a Fancy Stolen Casket; Hey Diddle, Diddle, the Corpse and a Fiddle; Casket Case, by Fran Rizer. (Cozy mysteries, Calamine Parrish, hair dresser, make-up artist, mortuary).

Trouble the Water, by Nicole Seitz. (Contemporary, women’s fiction, South Carolina coastal area, sisters and family, breast cancer).

A Rule Against Murder; The Cruelest Month, by Louise Penny. (Cozy mysteries, Canadian detective, Three Pines).

Embrace Me, by Lisa Samson. (Christian fiction, church, circus freak show).

Roadside Crosses, by Jeffery Deaver. (Contemporay, suspense, cyberthriller).

BoneMan’s Daughters, by Ted Dekker. (Contemporary, suspense, father-daughter relationships).

Murder on Bank Street, by Victoria Thompson. (Historical cozy mystery).

Sacred Trust, by Hannah Alexander. (Christian contemporary fiction, doctors, Ozark setting).

Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane. (Suspenseful psychological thriller, criminal insanity).

Life Support and Life Everlasting, by Robert Whitlow. (Christian fiction, attorney-client ethics, South Carolina setting).

Whispers of the Bayou, by Mindy Starns Clark. (Louisiana setting, death, mysterious past).

The Fugitive King, by Sarah R. Shaber. (Cozy mystery, history professor, North Carolina mountains).

A Fatal Grace, by Louise Penny. (Cozy mystery, Three Pines, Canadian detective).

Poplar River by Judith Barban. (Contemporay women’s fiction, Canadian wilderness, alternating chapters of human perspective with a chapter from an animal’s perspective.)

Lethel Deception, by Lynette Eason. An interesting romantic suspense in which the characters travel from the Amazon jungle in Brazil to South Carolina. I loved the main characters, Alexis in particular and Gabe, and the suspense. I didn’t figure out who was orchestrating all the attacks on Cassidy’s life until the very end of the story.

Kiss Me If You Dare, by Nicole Young. The third in the Patricia Amble Mystery Series, is an interesting Christian romantic suspense novel. I loved the themes of beginning a new life, renovating old houses, and all the unusual characters, especially those with disabilities, but the constant running from unknown danger was tiring.  And some of the twists seemed unbelievable. However, I do want to go back and read the first two in this series.

Serena, by Ron Rash. Interesting portrayal of a lumber camp in the mountains of North Carolina during the Depression era. I loved the authentic sounding dialect. I’m more appreciative of the early efforts of individuals interested in preserving our environment. However, this novel is a chilling portrayal of what greed and power can do to a man and a woman.

Tempting Evil, by Allison Brennan. Wonderful romance and suspense throughout the novel. Truly frightening to be able to read the thoughts of a cold-blooded murderer–and to feel a bit of sympathy for him.

The Distance from the Heart of Things, by Ashley Warlick.

Dating Dead Men, by Harley Jane Kozak. Not only does this novel have an intriguing title but it has a host of zany characters with a delightfully funny strong female lead character. This first novel won several awards. Look for Wollie Shelley to appear again.

The Piano Man, by Marcia Preston. A wonderful book about a mother whose only son is killed in an accident and what she does when she finds out who got his heart. This book focuses on relationships. A great read, worth reading a second time.

Wounds that Bind, by Jimmy Carl Harris. A collection of short stories about the unusual inhabitants of the small fictional town Azalea Springs. Jimmy Carl practices what he preaches, “Write risky stories, not grandma biscuit stories.” I’m not sure I liked all of them, but they certainly made me think.

Skinwalker, by Faith Hunter. A fast-paced action-packed dark fantasy–rogue vampires, witches, liver-eaters (?), and a skinwalker, all thrown together in the Quarter in New Orleans. Don’t read this until you have time to read the entire book. You won’t be able to put it down.

Blood Orange Brewing, by Laura Childs. A cozy mystery set in Charleston that includes recipes for goodies served at the tea shop. I did not figure this one out!

Death of a Maid, by M. C. Beaton. A cozy mystery set in England. I liked Hamish’s steering the media away from the true investigator of the murder(s).

Running Scared, by Cheryl Norman. Contemporary romantic suspense set in Jacksonville. Strong, believable characters and a good plotline.

Blood from a Stone, by Donna Leon.

A police murder mystery set in Venice. I enjoyed reading about how things are done in another country, but I had a difficult time with the Italian words. Interesting, thought-provoking. It made me consider the question, “What is the value of a human life? Are there any persons in society who are throwaways? In other words, if they die, their death will not affect us at all.”

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Books I’ve read for which I’ve posted reviews:

Blackwater Secrets, by Gwen Hunter

Great Read! Reader Rating 5 stars

Posted 06/19/07: This novel has everything a reader could want for a thoroughly engaging, entertaining reading experience. A background that oozes with bayou sounds and smells. More than one contemporary, realistic romance. Coming to terms with one’s past and upbringing, and righting old wrongs. Delightful French, cagun, and black dialect. A mystery to solve. Passages that will cause the reader to weep while others that will cause the reader to laugh or chortle. But most of all, Blackwater Secrets is about family–an old family, a dying family, a strong family. The reader will want to continue reading long after the last paragraph is read and the book is closed. This book is a keeper. (Posted on Barnes & Noble website.)

For a review of Jay: A Spiritual Fantasy, by Louis N. Gruber, go to:

For a review of Molasses Making Time, by Grace W. Looper, go to:


One Response to Book Reviews

  1. Martha Robinson says:

    How about reading some books recommended by Suzanne Beecher at

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