Book: A Study in Stone

I just finished an interesting book, the first of a series. It’s free on Amazon, so I gave it a try and wasn’t disappointed.

A Study in Stone

“You have all the tact of a gently lobbed hand grenade,” Alan Hargreaves tells his new neighbour, as they go about asking questions re: some strange writing on a stone and what it means. Alan, a writer of adventure stories for children, delivers these unique turns of phrase; all the deadpan humor, neatly woven into the text, gave me many chuckles.

Fresh from the dog-eat-dog world of corporate London, hard-nosed and wary, Dan Corrigan definitely lacks people skills. But the corporate world has chewed him up and spit him out; now he’s going to lick his wounds in a peaceful country setting, his sister’s rental cottage in a remote Devon village. When he arrives a passing neighbour stops to chat. The silence hits him. Settling in, he finds he can only get four channels on the telly – and no internet service! “Peaceful” soon becomes bored stiff so he joins his neighbour Alan at the local pub. All through the book the author has an amusing way of dealing with Dan’s “This isn’t London” frustrations.

In a coffee shop the next day a curious code on a stone attracts their attention and Dan’s tenacious attempts to learn the story behind it take them on this long adventure. I really liked Alan’s character; his level-headed and congenial nature makes a great foil for Dan’s skeptical, abrasive one. The two men form a unique give-and-take friendship and Alan helps Dan make the adjustment to another world, calling him on his “you out here in the sticks” attitudes.

The mystery in this story isn’t a menacing one and easy enough to guess if you’ve read some WWI history. But the story’s compelling and the dialogue enjoyable; once I started I didn’t quit reading until I was done. I enjoyed the excerpt for the next novel the author has included at the end and definitely want to read that one, too.

I debated between four and five stars, but I always hesitate to say I absolutely LOVED it. I really did enjoy it, though. 🙂 Checking the Goodreads reviews, I see that some others didn’t. A few people thought the mystery was too easy, which is true. Some enjoyed the historical details while for others there wasn’t enough suspense. Some readers couldn’t handle Dan’s behaviour, some liked the developing friendship between the two men.
Reviews:
5 stars: 42
4 stars: 32
3 stars: 15
2 stars: 6
1 star: 5

Pondering these various reviews has given me fuel for my next post: The Inky Slope of Book Reviews.

Book: A Promise Kept

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A Promise Kept
by David Bishop

Story grabs you from the get-go with its sympathetic main character. This may be a cozy mystery, but I see a few shades of Phillip Marlowe in Rick Carnes’ personality. Just a touch, less hard-boiled. An ex-army Captain who’s worked in govt investigations, Carnes doesn’t take any flak or swallow any lies. The story’s fairly clean over all, but one of the suspects has a foul mouth.

This is definitely a more cosy story than Chandlers’ works, no senseless murders, but almost as mystifying. I like it that Carnes works together with the law. Plus, he has Marlowe beat with all the modern technical resources. The “whodunit” was a complete surprise. I liked the Epilogue; it rounded out the story quite nicely. Kudos, Mr Bishop, on a very well written story!

I’m not sure why, but my name seems to have been listed in Amazon’s “BAD ONES” book recently, as the last three reviews I’ve done were rejected almost immediately — even the brief review for an adult coloring book. So I’ll post my reviews here.

Book: Ever Green Romances

To Have, To Hold (Ever Green Series Book 1) by [Darlene Polachic]

TO HAVE, TO HOLD
© 2017 by Darlene Polachic
This is the first in the Ever Green Christian romance series and is a free book on Kindle Unlimited for those who are subscribers.

When Janet O’Grady’s wheeler-dealer husband Marty dies in a car crash, she learns that he’s put everything they own under ownership of the company he and his brother own. Hoping to find a bank account with funds she can access, she discovers evidence that he’s been shifting company funds into an offshore account. Marty’s brother soon learns that millions of dollars are missing from the company’s account and he’s sure she’s been party to this deception. He wants his money and she must know where it is.

Leaving almost everything behind, Janet sneaks away in the wee hours with her six-year-old twin boys, running scared, headed for her parents’ home in Washington. She’s hoping they’ll forgive the past, take her in and give her shelter until she can get on her feet again. En route she needs help from a kind stranger.

Her parents think she must be a rich widow now — and she doesn’t tell them the truth, fearing her father’s health is too precarious for such a shock. Her sister Christa”s busy planning her wedding to banker Grant Brooks — who turns out to be the kind stranger who paid for Janet’s gas a few hours before.

Grant, a generous man with an inkling about Janet’s true financial state, offers to let her live in his grandfather’s house in exchange for cleaning it out — his grandparent saved EVERYTHING — so he can sell it. Janet appreciates working with Grant to clean up the place and Janet’s boys, starved for a father’s attention, just love him. She’d like to, too — but Grant’s taken. She’s not about to snitch her sister’s beau.

There are so many things I like about this book! It’s a clean story and well written. The main characters are mostly mature, considerate people; the ones who profess to be Christians do try to practice patience and kindness. The plot is interesting, believable, dramatic in places but not a high suspense. The only thing I couldn’t quite see was Grant as a banker — or a successful banker with Grant’s easy-going nature. He’s personable and conscientious but would a thirty-four-year-old professional money manager let himself drift into an engagement with a woman who loved to spend his money?

That aside, overall, this is an upbeat, enjoyable read — and written by one of the ladies in our writers friendship circle. 🙂

While this is The Evergreen Series, named for the town, each of the six novels is a stand-alone. Here are #2 and #3, which I haven’t read yet:

Book: The Christmas Sweater

The Christmas Sweater: A Short Story for Christmas by [Janice L. Dick]

The Christmas Sweater
by Janice L Dick

If you want a nice relaxing, interesting read over the holidays — or in January when a blizzard sweeps down and you’re snowed in, check out The Christmas Sweater: A Short Story for Christmas, by Janice L Dick

Jeanne, recently widowed, is dreading her first Christmas alone, but tends to cocoon herself in her grief. Until an old school friend moves back to town — right next door. And she shows up frequently just to chat. Using their past friendship and a good bit of prodding, Debbie gets Jeanne out of those old sweats she’s been dragging around the house in, out of feeling sorry for herself, and back into life.

While Debbie’s friendship proves invaluable to Jeanne, there comes a time when Debbie has to draw support from Jeanne’s friendship as she faces her own trials. It is a great short story about how friends can help and encourage one another.

Book:Seniors and High-Tech

One day my husband brought home a book he thought I’d enjoy — and it did give me many chuckles, especially as I remembered our own days of learning how to operate this new-fangled device. If you’re young and tech-savvy you can read it and sympathize with computer sales & support people who must patiently explain what a byte is, how to control a mouse, or how far you should back up when your computer gives the order.

My Senior Moments Have Gone High-Tech
© 2016 by Karen O’Conner,
published by Harvest House Publishers in Eugene Oregon

My Senior Moments Have Gone High-Tech by [Karen O'Connor]

Consists mainly of anecdotes about golden oldies who take up using a computer in their senior years, these amusing tidbits have been gathered from learners, teachers, and fixers. As well as humor, the writer offers hope for those who feel their offspring are tossing them into the sea of technology without a life jacket.

Like the woman who set her mouse on the floor, thinking it should work like her sewing machine foot pedal. Or the irate fellow who ordered tech support to come out and see why his printer wasn’t working. The company rep dutifully showed up, checking things out, and asked how long the printer had been unplugged.

This reminds me of my first attempt at using our computer. Bob had purchased one three weeks previously, so he and our daughter (who worked at a computer store) were babbling in this strange language. Which made me all the more determined not to touch the thing. However, we’d been on a Family Reunion trip to Boston and I wanted to write up a long letter to his mother plus several penpals. Rather than hand-write all those pages, I typed it into the computer.

Starting with “Dear Mom, We had this great trip to Massachusetts…” I went on for eight pages giving her all the details. Then I hit PRINT. Nothing happened. I hit it again. Nothing happened. After the third try I called our daughter at work. She asked, “Are you sure it’s plugged in?”

I checked. It wasn’t. I plugged it in. Out came the eight pages. Then another eight. I couldn’t stop the thing! I unplugged it again, then plugged it back in. Out came another eight. I’m thankful my two penpals didn’t seem to mind an eight-page letter that started with “Dear Mom,” accompanied by a handwritten note of explanation on top. And when hubby got home, he showed me how to cancel a PRINT order. 🙂

My husband is talking now of updating our cell phones. Gulp! I still mourn the obsolescence of my old cell phone. It worked so well; to answer a call, you just flipped open the lid.

Anyway, I think this book would be a great Christmas gift for the senior on your list.

Book: The Girl With the Silver Star

The Girl with the Silver Star
by Rachel Zolotov

This book was just launched Nov 17th and I got to review an advanced reader copy (ARC). I found this story intriguing, at times suspenseful, at times heartbreaking! It’s basically the memoir of Raisa, a Russian Jewish mother, and her two daughters, going through the terrors and heartbreak of World War II. I enjoyed the various joyful “before the war” scenes and customs sandwiched between her day-to-day events as a refugee.

The story starts as Abraham and Raisa and their two daughters survive the initial bombing of Minsk. They attempt to escape by train from the approaching German army – along with thousands of others. As they wait hopefully for space on the next train, the Red Army shows up and conscripts Abraham. His presence in the story after this is mainly through letters he wrote to his family while serving in the army. But his love for “his girls” casts a warm glow through the whole story.

Raisa and her daughters were able to join her parents and sisters in another city and the group made their way, along other refugees, to a safer place. The book tells of the treacherous journey they undertook, crammed like sardines in freight cars, with trains being bombed and heartless thieves, as they passed through cities overflowing with refugees, finally finding a temporary home at Kokand, in Uzbekistan.

As I began to read, I soon realized that this story isn’t being related in contemporary English. Rather, in the writer’s choice of words and syntax, I “heard” the Eastern European accent Raisa would have used to tell her story. It took me a bit to set aside my editor’s pen, but then just I enjoyed listening to her “voice” as she shared her life in day-by-day scenes and memories of a better day – always holding on to the hope that there will be better days again.

Five silver stars. 🙂