Death Rub by Ashantay Peters

RUB
Death Rub by Ashantay Peters
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press Inc
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (244 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Thornapple

Class reunions can be murder – even after finding the perfect dress.

Struggling massage therapist Maggie Jenkins only worries about rent, ducking her fifteen-year high school class reunion and whether she’s too old for her new boyfriend. Until she finds her client dead with no one else in the building. And all clues point to Maggie.

Construction supervisor Cam Darrow knows the seven-year difference between him and Maggie means nothing when love is at work. Convincing her to believe in him isn’t easy when her first love returns to town, evidently set on winning Maggie back. Not to mention the increasing stack of evidence against Maggie makes Cam worry she’ll be permanently out of his reach – in prison.

When another of Maggie’s classmates dies, it’s apparent the Class of 1999 produced more than graduates. Will the murderer add Maggie to the growing roster of death?

This book is just the right kind of romantic mystery that would be perfect to curl up with a cold winter night or a lazy weekend afternoon.

Maggie has worked hard to build a life for herself as a massage therapist. She has a devoted boyfriend, even if the seven year gap in their ages has her concerned. She has all but forgotten the pain and betrayals from high school which are all in the past now. But, with Maggie’s high school reunion fast approaching, she is reminded of all those rivalries, and the backstabbing and teenage angst. It was a time in her life she would rather forget, but someone from her class is harboring more than just a little resentment. When a murder takes place, it looks like one of Maggie’s old classmate could be responsible, but it’s Maggie who becomes the primary suspect.

With people coming into town to attend the reunion, Maggie meets up with her old high school boyfriend, Travis, who claims he wants a second chance with her. But, her old nemesis from high school, the one who stole Travis away from her, is still hell bent on destroying anything that Maggie has.  When it becomes clear Maggie may be arrested for murder she and her friends do a little sleuthing on their own, which gets them some unwanted attention.

I agree that high school angst and the old pains we suffered can stick with us for years to come, no matter how silly that is. However, murder usually isn’t a part of the equation. In this case it is and I loved how Maggie and her friends became partners to solve the crime.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit and found Maggie a character I could relate to. She’s a little sassy and sarcastic at times, but is a good person with the same frailties all us are prone to, making her a believable and real character. The secondary characters are her friends Ginger and Katie. Each one of them adds their own quirkiness and humor and are super supportive of each other.

I am always a sucker for the amateur sleuth type mysteries. This book is a whodunit in the cozy mystery vain with a romantic suspense blend. There is no graphic violence, just a light mystery with great characters and a plot that kept me guessing all the way to the end.

Rosi’s Castle by Edward Eaton

CASTLE
Rosi’s Castle by Edward Eaton
Publisher: Dragonfly Publishing
Genre: Young Adult/Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (200 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Orphaned, Rosi Carol is sent to live with her mysterious Uncle Richard in his eerie castle on the New England coast. Rosi feels even more of an outcast when she discovers the townspeople believe the Carol family has some kind of magical hold over New Richmond. Even her new friends are afraid of her. She soon discovers there may be some truth to the rumors. The castle seems to have a mind of its own with lights turning off and on and doors locking and unlocking with no one in sight. A strange dark cloud has dogged her since the train station. The ghosts of the Widows from New Richmond’s past blame Rosi for their husbands never returning from the sea. Her only allies are a Girl in Black (gone as suddenly as she appears) and Jesse (a paranormal reporter no one else can see). Can Rosi discover what the Widows want? What about the Girl in Black? Can Jesse help her find the answers or is he another big mystery? And why can’t her watch keep proper time?

The nice thing about moving to a new town is that it usually offers the opportunity to turn over a new leaf. If only Rosi knew why all of her new neighbours were acting so strangely around someone they’ve just met.

Rosi has several serious personality faults that reveal themselves early on in the plot. Her strengths were a little more challenging to figure out because they weren’t highlighted quite as much. I’ll admit that it took me some time to warm up to Rosi due to her tendency to judge things before gathering all of the facts, but once I got to know her better I was curious to see what would happen to her next.

It took me a long time to begin to figure out what was going on with Rosi’s uncle and his property. I understand that this is the first book in a trilogy, and I definitely wouldn’t expect the author to give away all of his secrets about the characters so early on. Having a few more clues early on about what Rosi was up against would have been incredibly helpful, though, due to the large percentage of the plot I spent feeling confused.

The atmosphere was deliciously spooky. One of the things I like the most about paranormal stories is how they bend the rules of physics in ways that don’t immediately make sense. Figuring out how and why those rules have been shifted is almost as interesting as learning what lead them to be altered in the first place.

Rosi’s Castle is a good choice for anyone who likes paranormal, young adult fiction.

Finding Flipper Frank by Patrick M Garry

FLIPPER
Finding Flipper Frank by Patrick M Garry
Publisher: Kenrick Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (263 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Walt Honerman has just about given up on life. He is thirty-eight years old and lives alone in a small apartment above a hardware store in Billings, Montana. But because of a promise made to a dying uncle, Walt embarks on a cross-country driving trip with two passengers: Moira Kelly, a young woman who had befriended Walt’s uncle during his recent hospitalization; and 76-year-old Izzy Dunleavy, a loquacious nursing home resident who wishes to return to his hometown of Crawfish Bay, Maryland.

During their trip, Izzy entertains Walt and Moira with elaborate tales of the grand resort he once owned in Crawfish Bay—a resort with a mythical reputation for being a place of good luck. But when they arrive in Crawfish Bay, a suddenly confused Izzy is arrested on a decades-old embezzlement charge.

After Moira insists on staying to help Izzy, she and Walt discover that most of Izzy’s stories are pure fiction. More discoveries occur when they meet Felix, Izzy’s former business partner, and Emily, a single mother who worked at the nursing home in Billings and who came to Crawfish Bay because of Izzy’s promise of a job at his fictional resort.

This mismatched group, thrown together as much by anger as by nostalgic affection, begins investigating the money Izzy supposedly embezzled when he disappeared from Crawfish Bay years ago. And despite his retreat from life, brought on by a past tragedy, Walt finds himself being pulled into the wake of wild dreamers.

Have you ever been around old people? They remember before like it was yesterday but might not know your own name. They can be crabby, stubborn and insistent. They’re often unhappy. So why would someone take them on a road trip 2,000 miles across country?

This was a surprising book. I expected it to be sort of a farcical tale. Instead Mr. Garry turned this into a look at humanity. He puts odd characters together, they travel and enjoy themselves for the most part, and they grow as they go.

Izzy is the old man. He’s going back to where he started. He fantasizes about his old business, how palatial it was, a lost love, and looks forward to seeing his old partner. Walt is the man whose uncle has just died. That’s how he got stuck with Izzy. It seems his uncle told him about going to Baltimore to see the game, and now he wants to hitch a ride. Walt has given up on life. He lost his fiancé in silly trick he and a buddy pulled and he doesn’t believe in love or life anymore. So what does it make if he takes Izzy along for the ride? Then, he suddenly has another passenger. A young woman visiting the nursing home wants to go, too. What’s one more?

As they travel, Izzy entertains them. Walt gets a bit irritated here and there, but he lets it go. Nobody is exactly what they appear to be. Izzy has some secrets (he may have forgotten them but they haven’t forgotten him), so does Moira, and Walt is still trying to find a spark to keep going.

I really enjoyed reading the escapades of Izzy and the budding romance between Moira and Walt. What bothered me was that death was waiting in the shadows. It goes with the story line and has a good message even if it’s a bit sad. The author handled it well. He has a clean writing style that is easy to read. He also made you really care about his characters. That’s what really matters in the long run.

You can take this trip across the country, too, just grab a copy of this book now. When you set it down, you won’t forget it quickly.

Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs by Molly Harper

NGS
Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs by Molly Harper
Publisher: PocketStar
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (355 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Cactus

Maybe it was the Shenanigans gift certificate that put her over the edge. When children’s librarian and self-professed nice girl Jane Jameson is fired by her beastly boss and handed twenty-five dollars in potato skins instead of a severance check, she goes on a bender that’s sure to become Half Moon Hollow legend. On her way home, she’s mistaken for a deer, shot, and left for dead. And thanks to the mysterious stranger she met while chugging neon-colored cocktails, she wakes up with a decidedly unladylike thirst for blood.

Jane is now the latest recipient of a gift basket from the Newly Undead Welcoming Committee, and her life-after-lifestyle is taking some getting used to. Her recently deceased favorite aunt is now her ghostly roommate. She has to fake breathing and endure daytime hours to avoid coming out of the coffin to her family. She’s forced to forgo her favorite down-home Southern cooking for bags of O negative. Her relationship with her sexy, mercurial vampire sire keeps running hot and cold. And if all that wasn’t enough, it looks like someone in Half Moon Hollow is trying to frame her for a series of vampire murders. What’s a nice undead girl to do?

Being mistaken for a deer, shot, and left for dead wasn’t even Jane’s worst day. The fact that it all happened on a day she was fired from her dream job and given a gift certificate for potato skins at the local dive bar did not help matters. However being turned into a vampire certainly gave Jane’s life, now unlife, new perspective. Now she has a sexy but somewhat unstable Sire to contend with along with small details such as blood sucking, flameablilty in sunlight, and the usual quagmire of crazy relatives of both the living and ghostly kind. Trying to navigate her new undead existence is not easy and that all happens before she starts to be framed for a series of vampire murders. A girl just can’t catch a break.

Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs is book one of the Jane Jameson series by Molly Harper. The main character of Jane is well developed and three-dimensional. She’s snarky, witty, and irreverent. The highlights of the book for me are not the female leads, since they are predictable, but the fun plot and use of secondary characters. Here the idea that Jane is bumping off other vampires and has to figure out who is framing her actually works because while the culprit is obvious very early on, Jane herself seems to go about the detecting work in a reasonable fashion. She’s clueless until the long monologue revealing exactly who did what and how by the “bad guy”, but I forgave her.  She’s intelligent but lacks serious common sense and the ability to put clues together. The writing relies on quips and Jane’s sense of humor to really carry the book, which works decently well even if it’s slightly repetitive.

I’ve read other books by the author set in Half Moon Hollow that revolve around the same group of characters but star different female protagonists. Now having read numerous books by Harper, both set in HMH and others, they are all remarkably similar to the point of formulaic. The heroines are almost exactly the same in each book. They are in their late 20s, single without significant past relationships, hard working, beautiful but they don’t think so, quirky, witty, sassy, and all have a penchant for a different kind of junk food which is usually a variation on candy. The females in the books are interchangeable and have few differences but the male leads are no different. They are all sexy, mysterious, rich, and totally enamored of the heroines to the point of silliness even as the heroine never believes it can be true. It’s classic romance and clearly is exactly what Harper’s readers want. I admit I find her sense of humor entertaining and I enjoy the books but I need long periods of time between them so I can forget that I already know everything about the book before I even start it. They’re predictable down to the details so I think your enjoyment hinges on whether that kind of formula romance appeals to readers.

I think Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs works well because the mystery carries the book since the romance is more lukewarm. Jane and her sire, Gabriel, don’t really have a solid happy ending but they are together and there are more books in the series. The vampire lore is basic and nothing special, even if all the good parts and very few drawbacks are included. For first time readers of this author that like humor in their vampire romance, I think this will be a real treat. For repeat readers it all depends on how much repetition is tolerable. I find the author’s voice and books nearly identical to one another but at least I always know what I’m getting.

Cover Your Eyes by Mary Burton

EYES
Cover Your Eyes by Mary Burton
Publisher: Zebra Books
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (392 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Don’t Look

At first, they struggle to escape. Then a torrent of blows rains down upon their bodies until their eyes cloud over in final agony. The killer shows no remorse–just a twisted need to witness each victim’s last terrified moments.

Don’t Speak

Public defender Rachel Wainwright is struggling to reopen a decades-old case, convinced that the wrong man is in prison. Homicide detective Deke Morgan doesn’t want to agree. But if Rachel’s hunch is correct, whoever fatally bludgeoned young, beautiful Annie Dawson thirty years ago could be the source of a new string of brutal slayings.

Just Prepare To Die

Rachel’s investigation is about to reveal answers–but at a price she never thought to pay. Now she’s become the target of a rage honed by years of jealousy and madness. And a murderer is ready to show her just how vicious the truth can be. . .

I’ve never read a Mary Burton book I didn’t like and Cover Your Eyes was no exception. It had all the necessary elements of a first rate romantic suspense novel, secrets, danger, and of course, a budding romance.

I liked the character of Rachel, while tough; she showed a vulnerability for helping the people she believed in. Ms. Burton certainly kept me in suspense knowing if the DNA from a previous crime matched that of her now client, Jeb.

Deke was at times a little arrogant but you like him nevertheless because you know in the back of your mind he’s going to be right about his beliefs and maybe save the day.

I enjoyed the way this story unfolded. A clue here and there, another character thrown in just to keep you on your toes about guessing the story’s outcome. And while I did guess correctly on some of the clues, the ending was perfect for a die-hard mystery reader like myself.

And speaking of other characters, all the secondary ones in this story drew you into their tale. Ms. Burton made them as well rounded as Rachel and Deke.

I also liked the setting. So many stories feature New York, LA , New Orleans or Atlanta but I can’t think of a romantic suspense I’ve read that’s set in Nashville and the music industry. It was a refreshing change which I felt added another layer to the story.

Pacing is actually fast despite this book’s length and I think the “I have to turn the page” quality of Cover Your Eyes had something to do with that.

If you’re looking to add a romantic suspense story to your upcoming winter reading list, I’d recommend this one.

A Pretty Mess, An Astonvale Novel by Carla Caruso

MESS
A Pretty Mess, An Astonvale Novel by Carla Caruso
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (247 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Hawthorn

Sometimes, to come clean, you’ve got to get your hands dirty …

Celeste Pretty, a self-confessed neat freak, has found the job she was born to do: a professional organiser, de-cluttering people’s homes and workplaces. Her new business gets off to a cracking start when she lands her first client, health and fitness guru Natalia Samphire, in the well-heeled suburb of Astonvale. But things get messy at Natalia’s mansion when Celeste finds a blackmail note and other mysterious items. And then there’s Lenny Muscat, the sexy builder renovating the place, whose constant presence is muddling Celeste’s usually organised brain.

When things get decidedly suspicious at the mansion, she and Lenny have to team up to investigate. But will Celeste emerge with her heart and professional reputation unscathed?

Celeste, a neat freak, and Lenny, the man with a plan, learn that sometimes the best decisions are the spontaneous ones. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they don’t try staying in control at all cost, until they realize it’s simply not worth it.

In their case, letting life surprise them is a good thing. It does take the whole novel for them to realize it, though. But it’s a fun read and I loved following them as they struggled, trying to keep a balance between what they thought they wanted from life and what life was actually offering them. Their romance developed slowly, and I appreciated how Celeste was not willing to rush things even after she dumped her sort-of boyfriend Mitchell. She was content staying single, which showed her strong character and independence. I loved that.

I really liked the characters of Natalia and her fiancé Mike and I would love to read more about them. Same goes for Celeste’s assistant, Flip. Celeste herself was a good character as far as characterization goes, but a smidgen too tidy for my taste. Obviously, Lenny wasn’t hard to warm up to, despite his occasional arrogance. The sparks between him and Celeste — or fireworks, as Lenny described them — were fun to watch. Their relationship was far from boring.

The suspense of the blackmailing plot helped keep the fast pace of the novel and also helped describe Natalia’s character. It was, however, a bit too predictable; a twist or two would make the story more original. I also stumbled over a handful of syntactical mistakes that had me re-reading the sentences a few times before I got the meaning.

This novel is far from a mess – it’s an enjoyable read with wonderfully written protagonists and a bunch of quirky secondary characters that make for a compelling read.

Politics Can Be Murder: A Hilary Adams Mystery by Linda Y. Atkins

MURDER
Politics Can Be Murder: A Hilary Adams Mystery by Linda Y. Atkins
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (320 Pages)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

When the law clerk for the chief justice of Kentucky’s Supreme Court dies in a mysterious hit-and-run, tongues begin to wag. After all, everyone knew about the justice’s penchant for young women, and this one was as beautiful as she was smart. Concerned that her death could be linked directly to him, Chief Justice Langford appeals to Hilary Adams, now Louisville’s Commonwealth’s Attorney, to keep him informed about any new developments that may crop up in the ensuing investigation. But when Hilary refuses, Langford angrily elects to pursue another route—one that effectively circumvents Hilary’s office, but one that ultimately leads to the chief justice himself falling victim to murder.

Though the details of Langford’s demise are shocking, his murder neither surprises nor displeases anyone, least of all his widow, who has more than a few wicked secrets of her own. But instead of ensuring long life, those sins, which she so carefully tried to conceal, ultimately prove to be the death of her too.

Faced with mounting pressure to solve the murders of both the chief justice and his wife—and to determine whether their murders had anything to do with the untimely death of the justice’s law clerk—Hilary, Homicide Lieutenant Peter Elliott, and investigator Sam Monroe unwittingly find themselves plunged into a complicated and twisted plot that, when unraveled, exposes an insatiable lust for uncompromising greed, a double whammy of double-crossing deceit, and a diabolical scheme of deadly blackmail, all carefully intertwined to advance a political agenda that has become cruelly out of control.

Hilary Adams, Louisville’s Commonwealth Attorney, turns down a request from the chief justice of Kentucky’s Supreme Court. Chief Justice Langford actually demands that Hilary keep him informed about the progress in the investigation of his law clerk’s death in a very strange hit-and-run. Hilary doesn’t even hesitate before she refuses to provide the information. However, the request makes her curious, and soon she, along with homicide lieutenant Peter Elliott and investigator Sam Monroe, is deeply involved in not just one, but three murders, with plenty of suspects, and a lot of political chicanery.

I really like Hilary Adams. She is a well-drawn, believable character. She is what I’d like to hope all lawyers could be, namely, strong, resourceful, loyal, smart, and most importantly, completely honest, with the highest integrity. Her friends and associates, Peter and Sam, also possess these qualities, which enable them all to keep ahead of the villains.

The action is fast-moving, with murder following murder. Hilary discovers that she has to work behind the scenes, trusting no one, as corruption in the mayor’s office and the police force is rampant. This all felt very real to me, and I suspect there is a lot more corruption in those places than any of us would want to believe. That’s why people like Hilary, Peter, and Sam are so important, and I worked right along with those three to solve this case. The ending took me by surprise. I’d narrowed down the suspects, but the actual solution and the reasons behind it were complex, something I really like in a mystery. I believed in the motives, as reprehensible as they were, and I understood the sick logic that resulted in the murders.

Mystery lovers are in for a real treat with Politics Can Be Murder.

Brain Matters: An Alie McCull Mystery by J. R. Scott

BRAIN
Brain Matters: An Alie McCull Mystery by J. R. Scott
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (320 Pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

Reporter Alie McCull faces a political tempest of murder and deceit behind the backdrop of two corrupt government agencies. It is then that Alie discovers the Brain Matters.

One high-profile assassination. Two government agencies competing to bridle society with blackmail, mind-control and social engineering. And one vengeful reporter who will move heaven and earth to protect her stepson accused of a savage murder.

Alie McCull is followed by a trail of dead bodies as she unravels the truth of a conspiracy decades old. Using her reporter’s intuition is the only way she can solve the mystery and prove that, in the ugly face of corruption, the Brain Matters.

Alie McCull is an established crime reporter who now has to research a crime that her stepson has been falsely accused of. She is very smart as well as determined, which makes her a dangerous adversary for the criminals.

Alie is a very believable character with a lot of depth. She inspires confidence and loyalty in her family and friends. Even the criminals show a healthy respect for her abilities, and there is never any question of her integrity and honesty, something that turns out to be a rare commodity.

The plot is riddled with corruption and deceit, making the mysteries extremely complex and convoluted. I wasn’t any faster than Alie at figuring out just what was going on, and the ending leaves many questions.

The novel is set in 1958, and the setting is vividly described with complete accuracy. I really felt as if I had been transported back in time. Every detail fits with the period, making the action realistic and believable. The pacing is excellent, fast-moving and exciting. For example, the description of a car chase through Detroit is so vivid that I felt as if I were watching it in a movie. The chase really gets the adrenaline pumping.

The plot deals with a lot of political corruption and drug induced mind controls which makes the story very scary indeed and while the setting in the 1950’s might seem to distance the reader from the realities of some very scary politics, we all know that the possibilities are still very real. I found the story disturbingly frightening and very powerful, and I really admired Alie for standing up for what she knows to be right in spite of pretty daunting odds.

Mystery readers who love thrillers are sure to be captivated by Brain Matters. Beware though, if you pick it for a bedtime read, you may not get much sleep.

An Intimate Murder by Stacy Verdick Case

MURDER
An Intimate Murder by Stacy Verdick Case
Publisher: Before the Fall Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (288 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

When Jonathan and Susan Luther are murder in their home, St. Paul homicide detective Catherine O’Brien and her partner Louise discover this isn’t the first time the Luther family has been visited by tragedy. Is it a case of bad family luck or is there something more?

When a couple, Susan and Jonathan Luther, are found murdered in their own homes, Detective Catherine O’Brien is called to the case. The more she digs into the mystery, the more dirt she digs up. It seems that this isn’t the first time the Luther family has been involved in something tragic. Is the family cursed with bad luck or is there more to it? Detective O’Brien is determined to find out.

Catherine O’Brien is my kind of woman. She’s stubborn, she’s down-to-earth, and she’s addicted to caffeine. But more than that, she’s honest and hardworking, the kind of detective you’d want working your murder, should it ever happen. Her husband is a wonderful, loving man, who understands when she misses dinner, and never holds it against her. They make quite an amusing and realistic couple.

Louise, Catherine’s partner, is a beautiful woman and has more tact in her little toe than Catherine has in her entire body. Which is a good thing because Catherine often needs a little reminding when dealing with suspects. She and Catherine couldn’t be more different but this is what makes them work so well together. They see different sides of the coin and put them together to make a whole. The two women are also good friends and that is what makes the partnership for me.

An Intimate Murder was my first Catherine O’Brien novel but I can guarantee you, it won’t be my last. Catherine has a bit of Stephanie Plum flair in that she can crack a joke with the best of them, often at her own expense. It’s this humor that makes the book, as well as the intricate murder mystery. Every time I thought I knew who had done the deed and why, I was proven wrong and left wondering again. I love a good mystery, but more than that, I love a good laugh. An Intimate Murder and Catherine O’Brien gave me both, with plenty to spare.

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The Star Catcher by Molly Dean

STAR
The Star Catcher by Molly Dean
Publisher: Wild Child Publshing
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Suspense/Mystery, YA
Length: Full Length (239 pages)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

When fifteen year-old Hawke feels fed up with not being able to walk, he escapes in his mind to a misty island filled with moorlands, ancient forests, and monolithic stones: a place where he can move and run and accomplish heroic quests.

His life is turned upside down, though, when he’s thrust into this dream world and finds it real! He becomes ‘Star Catcher.’ The job? Track and collect shooting stars or meteors sent from a more advanced civilization, which have powers that protect the island from approaching evil. He finds many helpers along the way: a serving girl who can communicate with animals and create light, an alluring mermaid, a savvy one-eyed crow, and an old farmer with a secret.

Hawke must also discover what’s going on inside the imposing mansion called Moon House. Why do rooms change? Why do objects mysteriously shift? Who lives inside the old forest behind the place—and why is the Star Catcher forbidden to enter it? And most importantly, who are Hawke and his stars really battling against? An evil genius? A pirate-like group called the Shrikers who have taken over the island? An Ancient Magic? Or, maybe an aspect of himself?

Hawke’s life sucks – his legs are paralyzed, he’s confined to his bed, his father has left, his mother is unhappy and trying to find solace. Hawke escapes the real world and dives into a world of dreams where he becomes the star catcher. He has to catch five stars as they fall from the sky – one every other day – and when he has caught the last star the magic will return to the strange land.

The world of Hawke’s dreams is very well thought out and each trip to find a star is like a different jewel in a necklace. Similar but each an individual in its own right. Hawke is typical of a young teenage boy but Emma, the girl servant at the Moon House, has several different facets to her character. Evil is easy to recognize as it comes in the guise of the Shrikers and Facsimiles but working out who the good guys are takes a little more time.

This story has a smattering of various animals, humans and mythical creatures. They confuse, assist or act against Hawke and as the reader I never knew which way each character would go.

I found this book to be very attention grabbing. At first it dragged a little but once Hawke started his travels in the other world I had to keep reading to see what happened next. While not the usual mystery and adventure, this fantasy certainly has a hint of magic, mystery and adventure. All make this a worthwhile read.