Monday, March 1, 2021

The First Lie - Book 2 in the Secrets of Selkie Moon series

 I shared Planting Pearls, book one/prequel to the Secrets of Selkie Moon series, last week.

As I mentioned, I have read all the books in the series. I did a short post about the series a couple of years ago but wanted to showcase each book now.


"Selkie Moon is a woman on the run. 

In a mad dash for freedom she’s escaped her abusive husband to start over in Hawaii. But her refuge begins to unravel and she’s running from something else entirely. A voice in a dream says: Someone is trying to kill you. Not that Selkie’s psychic, no way. But the visions escalate until the truth hits her – someone, or something, is stalking her. Entangled in Celtic and Hawaiian mythologies, the mystery becomes so bizarre and terrifying that Selkie’s instinct is to keep running. But is she running from her past or her future? And can she piece together the fragmented clues before time runs out?

The First Lie is a psychological thriller with a mythical twist, peppered with a cast of quirky characters. It’s a story about secrets, about the shadows we don’t know are driving us, from our mythical pasts and our present reality, told with a touch of humour."

My thoughts: The story begins when Selkie sees a woman in a mirror that belongs to Wanda. The woman is looking right at her and appears to be real. Selkie hears words in her head as if the woman is giving her a message that someone is trying to kill her. When Selkie turns around, the woman is not there. (I always like a little supernatural thing going on). We follow Selkie as she tries to find out who the woman is, get her business going, not fall for another abusive man, not get killed and finally find out what was the first lie.

I loved the writing. It is a good thriller but also has some wonderfully written descriptions of Selkie's experiences? dreams? visions? The story also brings in some the legends and myths in Hawaii. There are many layers to this story. What part does Selkie's childhood play in all that is happening to her? Are these things real, magical, psychological?

The story ends with you wanting to know more. Really good.

I will post The Second Path next week, that takes Selkie to Paris!

Monday, February 22, 2021

Planting Pearls by Virginia King

 Planting Pearls is the recently published prequel/book one to the Selkie Moon series by Virginia King. I have read all of the books in the series and really liked Planting Pearls. If you have already read some of the other books in the series, you will like reading more of the story as to how Selkie got to Hawaii and her new start and how she met several of the recurring characters that you love. If you are new to the series, Planting Pearls will really grab you and I am sure you will move quickly to the next book.

The Selkie Moon series is a good combination of women's fiction, mystery/supernatural.

"A new name and a new home.

A scary ex-husband ...

And a ghost.

When Selkie Moon escapes her controlling husband to start a new life in Hawaii, she's under pressure to support herself, stay hidden from her ex, and trust her new friends. But when she encounters a so-called haunting, Selkie delves into the mystery surrounding the old Honolulu house. Are there dark forces at work and is a young child in danger?  Or is something else going on?"

My thoughts: As the story begins, Selkie has planned her "escape" from her controlling husband. As she travels from Australia to Hawaii, she receives threatening texts from him. The suspense begins there as we can feel how he is stalking her. 

Selkie finds a room mate under serendipitous circumstances. Wanda is an artist in Waikiki. She makes "fish art." The one room apartment is also shared by Doris, Wanda's shop dummy that she collected. Plenty of room for Shona, Selkie's statue from Zimbabwe that she has brought all the way from Australia.

As Selkie is setting up her new life, she becomes involved in a mystery. Her new friend Derek, has a business investigating "surreal" phenomena and she accompanies him on an investigation. Is a ghost haunting the property that Hudson and Gracie have bought to begin their new life and is their 5 year old daughter Sage, in contact with the spirit of another young girl? All the while, Selkie continues to receive threatening texts from her husband.

This book is full of suspense and danger that will keep you turning the pages. 

I really like the other books in the series that follow Selkie as she becomes more and more independent. Selkie's seminar business takes her to other countries in the books. In each one, she becomes involved in a local mystery. We learn about different folklore and the countries where the books are set in.

Bonus! Tuesday February 23rd, Planting Pearls free and all the books in the series are on sale.  The First Lie is $2.99 and the rest of the novels are $3.99. 

About the author:

When a voice wakes you up in the middle of the night and tells you to write a fiction series, what’s a writer to do? That’s how I came to create Selkie Moon, after this nocturnal message. I sat down at the keyboard until Selkie Moon turned up -- a modern woman with a mythical name. Soon I was hooked, exploring far-flung places full of secrets where Selkie delves into psychological clues tangled up in the local folklore.

Before Selkie Moon invaded my life, I'd been a teacher, an unemployed ex-teacher, the author of over 50 children’s books, an audio-book producer, a workshop presenter and a prize-winning publisher. These days I live in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney with my husband, where I disappear each day into Selkie Moon’s latest mystery. Bliss.

I really think you would like this series!


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Here's what happened....

 Looking at my last post, I had no idea it was January since I posted. 

We got so busy at work, (at home) that I was working an hour longer each night.  Then we were all warned of the Polar Vortex. Cute cartoons came out, spoofs on children's show with Mr. Freeze popped up.

I went to the store on Tuesday to get some groceries so I could make "hearty meals" when PV showed up.

Thursday at 1 p.m., PV's sent his helper, Mr. Freezing Rain, while taking my lunch break, power loss #1 happened. Came on middle of the night then off. Couldn't work Friday. This went on all weekend with power off more than on. Then Sunday night - Monday early a.m., PV made an appearance. Snow, rain, sleet, on and on. And it got cold. Power went off and stayed off. The night time temps were 18, 9, 6 and daytime 20. Hadn't been able to get fire logs the week before when we tried. We were told at several stores, "We don't have anymore. It is supposed to be spring here now, so we don't order anymore". 

We had some propane and a heater so we used that and made fires from real wood. Not that easy. Drove the car around the block when we could to charge phones and make sure the car would start. 

Yeah! The power came on Wednesday night. We had really been without steady power for 6 days at that point. Oooops. No water and still no water. So we have been collecting snow before it melted and filled up every water type pitcher, thermos, pot and pan when I noticed the pressure didn't seem right. 

Here we are 1 1/2 weeks later. 50 degrees, sunny, everything melting. Still no water but things don't seem as bad in the sun and now that PV and bag of tricks have left.

Some people still don't have power in the state, most of our city does not have water and the stores are out of food because they lost power also. People bought what they could ahead and then the stores probably had to throw out a lot of frozen food. But they say the trucks are out delivering to restock and the water tanks are filling up. I am still leery of using too much electricity, for fear of blowing it out again.

No I didn't get a lots of books read because there was a lot of effort trying to keep warm, make some kind of food on the grill and do some crosswords by candlelight. 

I also wasn't able to record Scarlett and the Duke, Creatures Great and Small and Nancy Drew! I think I can find them "on demand".

Back to books! Coming up, Planting Pearls by Virginia King.

Friday, January 22, 2021

The Glory Days of Aimee Bonnard by Maria Elena Sandovici

 When Elena asked me if I would like to read her latest book, The Glory Days of Aimee Bonnard, I said sure! When I read the description, I will tell you that I was a little hesitant. I am a "good Midwestern Lutheran girl" and I was a little leery. (Picture in my mind of my mother and grandmother pursing lips, looking over glasses, shaking head.) But having read a couple of Elena's books and loved her writing, I trusted it wouldn't be "too much". 

About: "From the bestselling author of Storms of Malhado comes a new historical novel delving into a captivating element of Galveston’s past: the world of prostitution. 
Nobody comes to a brothel seeking a true story. But you will want to learn the truth about Aimée Bonnard, the best-paid woman in Galveston. Formerly known as Yvonne LaCroix, Aimée arrives on the Island in the summer of 1898. She’s looking for work in a high-end brothel, but she is also outrunning the consequences of a deadly night in New Orleans – a night in which a rival prostitute lost her life. Mistress of deception, Aimée charms and entices her way into an existence of extravagance and adventure in one of the most exclusive brothels of Galveston. But does the life of a high-end prostitute offer as much freedom as Aimée craves? And will her past catch up with her? 
Befriending artists, architects, merchants, and gamblers, as well as a modest but kind-hearted doctor, Aimée falls in love with Galveston Island and discovers aspects of her own personality that surprise her. As a talented courtesan, her glory days are only just beginning. But a different Aimée surfaces, one that wants things that could stand in the way of her professional success, including allowing herself to fall in love. Meanwhile the past is closing in on her and Aimée will have to choose between the protection of a despotic madam and the uncertainty of taking matters into her own hands."

My take: This was such a wonderful woman's story. Young Aimee/Yvonne and her friend are enticed into the "glamour", money and all around culture of the world of high end prostitution at a young age after being sent out to work in not so glamorous conditions by their families. One intriguing thread of the story is what happened to Aimee's "coworker" Marie. Aimee is running from New Orleans after Marie is found dead. The question is - did Aimee kill Marie? Aimee changes her name and the story of her past and methodically works her way into a new upscale house. She meets some men that give her pause, reflecting on her life and her future. These men are not all clients but who by circumstances see in her things she does not see in herself; her true heart, her intelligence, her potential. This was such a good story about Aimee's life, her past and her future. It had a wonderful ending.

About the author: "Maria Elena Sandovici was born in Bucharest, a city she loves and can never stay away from too long. Her desire for international adventures led her to make new homes for herself in places such as New York, Barcelona, and Galveston, Texas. Her travels inspire her to paint, blog, and write novels about people who are either homesick and nostalgic, or experience a perpetual need to flee."

I received a free copy and voluntarily provided a review.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Case of the Canterfell Codicil by P.J. Fitzsimmons

 Codicil per Miriam Webster: "a legal instrument made to modify an earlier will".

The Case of the Canterfell Codicil is the first book in the Anty Boisjoly Mysteries.

About: "There’s a literary niche for all tastes including those who think that either Agatha Christie wasn’t funny enough or that PG Wodehouse didn’t feature anywhere near as many baffling murders as he could have. The Case of the Canterfell Codicil is a classic, cosy, locked-room mystery written in the style of an homage to PG Wodehouse. The result, for those familiar with Wodehouse or Jerome K Jerome and Agatha Christie or Dorothy L Sayers, is either an inexcusable offence to several beloved canons, or a hilarious, fast-paced, manor house murder mystery.

 In The Case of the Canterfell Codicil, Wodehousian gadabout and clubman Anty Boisjoly takes on his first case when his old Oxford chum and coxswain is facing the gallows, accused of the murder of his wealthy uncle. Not one but two locked-room mysteries later, Boisjoly’s pitting his wits and witticisms against a subversive butler, a senile footman, a single-minded detective-inspector, an irascible goat, and the eccentric conventions of the pastoral Sussex countryside to untangle a multi-layered mystery of secret bequests, ancient writs, love triangles, revenge, and a teasing twist in the final paragraph."

My take: This is a good locked room mystery reminiscent of an Agatha Christie mystery and Clue. With the calm of Poirot and deduction skills of Sherlock Holmes, Anty Boisjoly helps his school mate, Fiddles, try to find out how his Uncle Sebastian came to be thrown/or fell out of an upstairs window from a room that was locked. Colorful characters, a wealthy aristocratic family in England, Earls, seats in Parliment...who stands to gain from Sebastian's death.

Anty is good at letting the local police and investigators work on the case but all the while is figuring it out himself as the locals try to solve it all in a day and lock up the first person they can think of. Just when things appear to be wrapping up, Sebastian's father is found dead by apparent suicide, again in a locked room. Anty is pretty sure these deaths are related to the Canterfell Codicil written 30 years ago. Anty calls everyone staying in the house to the conservatory a few times for his own questioning, pointing out what rooms everyone was in at the time of the "accidents", things in the room etc. Hence the reference to Clue. 

The story seems to take place in the 1930's, based on events mentioned. The dialogue is what I imagine to be aristocractic English (if that is a thing)of that time and I did have a little trouble following it sometimes. Anty does make some very funny comments and observations throughout the book. 

The story is very good, methodically unraveling  "who dunnit" peppered with hilarious quips. I look forward to book two.

About P.J. Fitzsimmons: "I’m a freelance ghost for mainstream genres but when I’m my own man I write strictly for the laughs. I dream of an alternative reality in which PG Wodehouse wrote locked room mysteries, and in which I’m PG Wodehouse." 

I received a free copy and voluntarily provided this review.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Open Season by C.J. Box

 I read three very different books in the past month. Two were mysteries, one was a historical woman's fiction. The great thing about belonging to a book club and read and review sites, is the exposure to books I may not pick up on my own. I will do separate posts this week or this would be really long.

Open Season by C.J. Box - Joe Picket #1

Our Mystery Book Club read C.J. Box for our January meeting, any C.J. Box book. I had not read any books by this author so I chose the first book in the C.J. Box series. Several of the members of the book club had recommended this series for years.

About: "Joe Pickett is the new game warden in Twelve Sleep, Wyoming, a town where nearly everyone hunts, and the game warden--especially one like Joe who won't take bribes or look the other way--is far from popular. When he finds a local hunting outfitter dead, splayed out on the woodpile behind his state-owned home, he takes it personally. There had to be a reason that the outfitter, with whom he's had run-ins before, chose his backyard, his woodpile to die in. Even after the "outfitter murders," as they have been dubbed by the local press after the discovery of the two more bodies, are solved, Joe continues to investigate, uneasy with the easy explanation offered by the local police. As Joe digs deeper into the murders, he soon discovers that the outfitter brought more than death to his backdoor: he brought Joe an endangered species, thought to be extinct, which is now living in his woodpile. But if word of the existence of this endangered species gets out, it will destroy any chance of InterWest, a multi-national natural gas company, building an oil pipeline that would bring the company billions of dollars across Wyoming, through the mountains and forests of Twelve Sleep. The closer Joe comes to the truth behind the outfitter murders, the endangered species and InterWest, the closer he comes to losing everything he holds dear."

My take: I actually listened to this as an audio book. I will say at first I didn't think I would like it. Some of the characters are a bit too rough and crude for my liking and that is accentuated  when it is spoken words. But I ended up liking the book. Joe is a nice guy and great family man. His wife is a special person as the ending shows. I loved their daughter Sheridan. I believe she is 10 years old in the book but she is very smart, has a lot of common sense, brave and able to think things out way beyond her years. The main characters are very likeable but the other characters were pretty despicable. The ending was good - bittersweet. I would like to read more of this series. 

About the author: "C. J. Box is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 24 novels including the Joe Pickett series. He won the Edgar Alan Poe Award for Best Novel (Blue Heaven, 2009) as well as the Anthony Award, Prix Calibre 38 (France), the Macavity Award, the Gumshoe Award, two Barry Awards, and the 2010 Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Award for fiction. He was recently awarded the 2016 Western Heritage Award for Literature by the National Cowboy Museum as well as the Spur Award for Best Contemporary Novel by the Western Writers of America in 2017. The novels have been translated into 27 languages. Box is a Wyoming native and has worked as a ranch hand, surveyor, fishing guide, a small town newspaper reporter and editor, and he co-owns an international tourism marketing firm with his wife Laurie. They have three daughters. An avid outdoorsman, Box has hunted, fished, hiked, ridden, and skied throughout Wyoming and the Mountain West. He served on the Board of Directors for the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. Box lives in Wyoming."

Next: The Case of the Canterfell Codicil

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Happy 2021! Hallmark and Masterpiece Mysteries

 Gosh it has been a month since I posted. Didn't go anywhere. Quiet holidays. Not sure where the time went. 

Looks like television mysteries are back!


January: Ships in the Night - A Martha's Vineyard Mystery  Sunday January 17th 7 p.m. central

When an art gallery robbery leads to the death of the contemptible gallery manager, former Boston detective Jeff Jackson teams up with local Doctor – and old flame – Dr. Zee Madeiras, to catch the killer. Starring Jesse Metcalfe and Sarah Lind.

February: Crosswords Mysteries - Terminal Descent February 14 at 7 p.m. central

After volunteering to participate in a crossword solving competition with a new supercomputer, crossword puzzle editor Tess Harper finds herself swept into the investigation of the bizarre murder of a tech CEO. Starring Lacey ChabertBrennan ElliottBarbara Niven, and John Kapelos.

Masterpiece on PBS


Miss Scarlet and the Duke Sunday January 17, 7 p.m. central

Six episodes in this new series. clap clap 

Kate Phillips (Peaky Blinders) stars as the headstrong, first-ever female detective in Victorian London, who won’t let any naysayers stand in her way. Stuart Martin (Jamestown) plays her childhood friend and professional colleague Scotland Yard Detective Inspector William Wellington, a.k.a., The Duke.

Eliza Scarlet goes to work as a private detective to get out of debt. Luckily, a family friend is willing to help.

Inside the Mind of Agatha Christie - January 17, 9 p.m. central (check your local PBS station  for this)

A profile of Agatha Christie with access to the author's personal notebooks, letters and diaries as well as never-before-seen documents.


Nancy Drew Season 2 January 20, 8 p.m. central

I did end up liking this show. Not really like the book series, but the characters have the same names as the books. It took on a paranormal twist but I like some of that. I will be watching it.

What about Big Sky you may ask. The t.v. series based on the novel The Highway by C.J. Box. I have not read The Highway, but others have told me the t.v. series is loosely based on the book. I watched the first episode, well half of it. Then I thought, oh maybe I should finish it. I watched some more. Then I said no this is not for me. I stayed quiet about it though. We had our Mystery Book Club meeting soon after that and guess what? Those from the group that has watched it turned it off also. 

Yes I did read a couple of books during the holidays. I will post those soon.