Meet David Randall, a private investigator. He’s at the end of his second marriage — his wife has thrown him out. He’s also ready to quit working for his small-time, dead-end agency and head out on his own. David has suffered tragedy in the death of his daughter in a car accident a few years earlier and is still grieving and suffering from guilt (he thinks he could have saved her). All this and he’s only 30 years of age.
David is sleeping in his car down the street from his second wife’s house when he is awakened by sirens. A few streets over he finds police and an ambulance and what appear to be cryptic notes on paper strewn across the murder victim’s yard. Since he doesn’t know the victim, he leaves the crime scene and heads out. Along the way he meets up with his friend Camden and goes home with him. Camden operates a boarding-house and is apparently psychic, but is probably the sanest person in the house. Other residents include: Kary, a 24 year old student and the estranged daughter of tele-evangelists; Rufus, a soft-hearted big brute of a man and construction worker; and Fred, an elderly eccentric (Southern-speak for little bit crazy but lovable). Along the way we also meet Ellin, Camden’s lady friend, and producer at the Psychic Service Network and Lily, a neighbor that swears she was abducted by aliens.
After quitting his job and picking up his last paycheck, Cam obtains his first client, Melanie Gentry. Melanie is interested in learning whether her deceased great-Grandmother, Laura Gentry, wrote any folk music attributed to John B. Ashford. This is when things get interesting because it is at this point that Camden begins channeling the spirit of John Ashford and he isn’t exactly the nicest of guys. The rumor mill had it that Ashford may have been the cause of Laura’s “accidental” drowning.
There’s quite a bit of murder, mystery and mayhem that ensues. David is now head-over-heals in love with the beautiful Kary and likens himself to the deceased John Ashford and his relationship with the late Laura Gentry. Interspersed throughout all of this intrigue and pseudo-romance (at least in David’s mind), there’s plenty of drama: Ellin wants Camden to appear on one of the Psychic Service network’s shows and he refuses, she then tries to use the spirit of John Ashford as a tie in to a PBS documentary on folk music that is currently being filmed. Camden is having an identity crisis, related more to the fact that he was abandoned as a child and raised in foster homes. He doesn’t know who he is or where he’s from, and the spirit of John Ashford is using this to obtain advantage in over-riding and suppresing Camden’s personality. David also seems to be encountering the ghost of his daughter at odd moments throughout his investigation.
This is a mystery but it doesn’t really follow the traditional mystery path. The incorporation of psychics, alien abductions, child abandonment issues, grief over losing a child, folk music history and ghostly encounters and possession make for a unique reading experience. Look for Stolen Hearts by Jane Tesh to be released in October.
Disclaimer: This book was received for free from the publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, through netGalley. I was not paid, required, nor otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
I recently discovered the author Debora Geary by winning a copy of her novella MatchMakers 2.0 on LibraryThing.com. I was immediately hooked on her down-to-earth, humorous writing style. I then learned of her new book, A Modern Witch, and immediately added this to my TBR list. Over the past few weeks I’ve been inundated (in a very good way) with ARC books to read and review and decided to take a little break and read something from my personal TBR list, A Modern Witch.
There is nothing like Harry Potter, Bewitched or even new-age like to the witches in this story. Lauren is a very successful realtor in Chicago and doesn’t even know that she is witch until she is pulled into an online witch chat while grocery shopping. This online site is the brain-child of a brother and sister computer programming team, Nell and Jamie. Nell is mother of five and her youngest son, Aervyn, is perhaps the most powerful and skilled witch seen in recent times, and he’s only four. Jamie is a witch-trainer and computer nerd/geek. His improptu job is to leave California for Chicago to discern if Lauren is truly a witch or if their new programming has a glitch. Of course Lauren is a witch but she has difficulty accepting this news and even more difficulty accepting that she is a mind-witch with channeling skills. After having her barrier blocking skills blown by a precognitive incident (not hers but Jamie’s), she is forced to travel to California for what she terms “witch boot camp.” It is here that the fun truly begins.
Along for this topsy-turvy joyride into witch training is Lauren’s best friend, Nat. Nat, although descended from great wealth and Boston bluebloods, feels more at ease operating her yoga studio in Chicago. However, she also feels kinship with Lauren and refuses to allow her to travel without her moral support. Both Nat and Lauren learn to deal with issues they’ve never experienced when brought into a large, loving witch family. Nat falls in love with Jamie and must deal with issues concerning her love of Chicago, her business and Jamie’s love for his family and life in California. Lauren must cope with accepting that what she has always felt was just great intuition is actually her mid-witching abilities. The only person that is truly open and accepting of everything that happens is Aervyn. It is truly magical to read about his spellcasting during large circle. This four year old communes with the planet and attempts to heal or “burp” the San Andreas fault line in order to prevent a major quake. He even states that the planet told him not completely heal the fault and thanks him for his work. He doesn’t even realize the enormity of what he has done, although all of the others in the circle do and are stunned.
At its heart this seems to be a story about acceptance. It’s about accepting changes in our personal life paths. It’s about accepting that there are people with a myriad of different abilities and life-choices. Ms. Geary presents a well-crafted tale that was quite easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable. I look forward to reading more from her in the future.
I read, I smiled, I laughed, and I truly enjoyed this book. Although this is part of the Grim Reaper series by Judy Clemens, it is the first book in this series that I’ve read. It is also the first book from a series that I’ve read that didn’t leave me feeling as if I had to read the previous books in order to understand what was happening (although I do feel that I will be reading them just becuse I enjoyed this one so much). It took a little bit of getting used to someone, namely Casey Maldonado, having “death” or a grim reaper as a companion, but L’Ankou is part of what makes this mystery so light-hearted and fun.
Casey is still dealing with the grief of losing her son and husband in a car accident, not to mention severe albeit superficial injuries from a recent fight. She is trained in hapkido, a form of martial arts, as well as being an athletic trainer. We meet her and L’Ankou as they are travelling on a boxcar running away from Kansas. It appears that she previously was running away from Ohio, the scene of her husband and son’s death, and from being a murder suspect. Her travels take her to Raceda, Florida where she starts work at an apartment/condo complex as a fitness instructor/athletic trainer. Needless to say that trouble is not far behind. Casey, now known as Daisy, discovers a badly injured woman who subsequently dies. Of course she must investigate and quickly jumps to all the wrong conclusions. What is interesting is the often comedic and quirky changes that L’Ankou makes. When he is around a police officer, he dresses as one with a name tag to fit. He also dresses in a kimono upon learning that Casey/Daisy has been invited to a Japanese restaurant. Most people don’t see Casey’s companion but a few, those that don’t fear death, are capable of seeing him. This makes for interesting exchanges as Casey apparently must speak aloud to respond to L’Ankou and others can’t see him and presume she is speaking to them or that she’s just crazy.
I think quirky is the correct word to use in describing this book. Ms. Clemens has created characters that are realistic and all-too humans with their faults. L’Ankou, although not human, seems to have just as much to offer as his human companion and it this relationship that makes this book work. Casey needs L’Ankou as much as he seems to need her. She needs the connection to her deceased husband and son and L’Ankou needs to live vicariously through someone that can see him, interact with him and accept him for what he is…death.
Look for this title to be released in early August.
A complimentary advanced reader copy of this book was made available to me through netGalley’s advanced reader program and by the publisher, Poisoned Pen Press. I thank them both for this opportunity. I was not paid, required nor obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante is a haunting and tragic tale of murder and one women’s mental descension due to Alzheimers. Most of the story is written in the first person and we are allowed to witness, if not participate, in the often chaotic thoughts and actions of Jennifer White MD. Jennifer is in her early 60s, a retired orthopedic surgeon (specialty is hand surgery), widow, mother of two children, and a collector of religious art. Her son, Mark McLennan, is an attorney as was his father James. Her daughter, Fiona, is an economist and exhibits signs of manic episodes. Her son has been given medical power of attorney over her care and her daughter is given financial power of attorney. Other characters that are woven into the story include Magdelena, Jennifer’s full-time, live-in caregiver, and Amanda O’Toole a former teacher, Fiona’s godmother, reputedly Jennifer’s best friend, and the murder victim.
Jennifer’s story is divided into four sections and in each we see her decline to point that she suffers a “death of the mind.” Section one is immediately after the murder and Jennifer has more moments of lucidity but also has moments of aggression and confusion interspersed with memories of the past. One moment she realizes that her husband James is deceased and the next she is waiting for him to arrive home from work. One moment she is thinking about why Amanda hasn’t come over for coffee or to talk and the next she is reminded of her death and grieves. It is often just as difficult on the reader to see her grieve for Amanda repeatedly as she is reminded that her friend is gone. It seems cruel the way the police constantly remind of her this although we recognize that it must be done as a part of their investigation.
Section/chapter one brings the reader into the struggle with the chaotic thoughts, foggy moments, and episodes of clarity along with Jennifer. At times it is difficult to discern what are memories and what is reality as we read along, much as Jennifer has difficulty detecting what is real and what is not. She is at any given moment an eighteen year old, then fifty and perhaps thirty-five, sometimes in the span of minutes. Throughout this chaos, we watch as police investigate the murder of Amanda and the post-mortem mutilation of her body — the surgical removal of all of the fingers on one hand. For obvious reasons, the police suspect Jennifer and are initially reluctant to accept that she is suffering from dementia. They presume this is just a little too suspect and awfully convenient. During this period, Jennifer is still living at home with the assistance of Magdelena. However, her children become increasingly aware that this may no longer be a possibility as she has episodes of seemingly bizarre behavior, such as when she decides to taste the fruit in the grocery store and then removes her clothing. It isn’t possible for one person to watch her constantly during the day so we suffer as the children make arrangements for Jennifer to be placed in an assisted-living facility. The house is sold and Jennifer is moved.
In section/chapter two we witness Jennifer take more steps away from reality. She is in an assisted-living facility but doesn’t know why. She constantly thinks of ways to escape and has more difficulty recognizing faces. She tries to retain a sense of dignity in her insistence that her “care-givers” call her Dr. White as opposed to Jennifer. We also witness, through recollected memories and current episodes, her ongoing struggles with her children. She struggles with dealing with Marks financial insolvency issues, which seems to recall her husband’s embezzlement issues. Jennifer also struggles with dealing with Fiona’s behavior as she recalls Amanda’s interference in her oblique references that inform James that Fiona is not his child at Jennifer’s 50th birthday party. The more that is revealed about Amanda, the less we like her. She comes across as manipulative and vindictive if not downright envious of what Jennifer has with her children and the relationship she has with her husband James.
Each chapter/section becomes shorter and shorter as Jennifer’s grasp on reality becomes smaller and smaller. More is revealed about Amanda’s murder and the events surrounding the murder. We witness reconciliations and a sense of acceptance. We begin to grieve, not with Jennifer but with her children as they suffer through their mother’s decline. Ms. LaPlante does a superb job of grabbing our attention and shaking us up as we participate in the ups and downs in Jennifer’s life. This is an excellent fictional depiction of the trauma of Alzheimers/dementia from the sufferer’s perspective as well as the family. I highly recommend adding this book to your to-be-read list upon its release in July. A definite must-read!
Thank you again to the publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press and netGalley for the opportunity to review this book.
I wish I could say that I liked this book, but I can’t, for a variety of different reasons. I will not be posting the early review on my blog, but if you want to see what I thought please check out the links below to GoodReads.com or LibraryThing.com.
My next book is also courtesy of netGalley (and Grove/Atlantic Inc.): Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante, published by Atlantic Monthly Press. I hope to have the review posted by late Tuesday or early Wednesday. Until then, happy reading…
I’m going through my TBR list of books from netGalley and next up is PEOPLE OF THE BOOK by Kathi Macias, published by Hew Hope Publishers. Look for this book to hit stores on 4/5/2011.
Have you ever read a book and can’t quite decide if you liked it or not? Well, that’s where I am with Pale Demon by Kim Harrison. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t ‘hate’ this book but I simply didn’t like it as much as the others. There’s plenty of action and familiar characters, but this was the first time I had to force myself to read a book in this series. Jenks, the pixie, is still grieving the death of his wife but is taking the first steps to moving on with his life. Ivy, the vampire, has come to grips with the notion that there will be only friendship between her and Rachel. Rachel, the witch, is coming to grips with the idea that she is or may be a demon (or at least descended from demons). Trent, Rachel’s frenemy, is openly embracing being an elf and sets off on an elf quest. Others join this strange quartet as they drive cross country to attend Rachel’s hearing before the Coven.
In previous books Rachel had been shunned as a black witch (a witch performing black or demon magic), and although she thinks that she can have the shunning removed she is also aware that she may never be openly accepted for what she is…witch and demon. She must battle a day-walking demon, definitely something new, while dealing with the stress of what awaits her at and after her trial. For a brief moment I thought that this might be the end of Rachel and her escapades, and I had to ask myself if I was ready to be through with Rachel and her troubled life. The answer is no. Although there are some series that play out after a few books (but the authors keep plugging away for a few more books just to keep the series going), Ms. Harrison and the Rachel Morgan series do not fall into that category. All things considered, this was a decent read and a nice twist to the series. I anxiously await reading about Rachel’s fate in future books.
I’ll be taking a brief break from my paranormal/fantasy reading so that I can read and review some soon-to-be-published books, courtesy of netGalley and Hyperion. The first in this list of advanced reading titles will be The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon, scheduled to be released on June 14, 2011.