Stillwell by Michael Phillip Cash

Stillwell by Michael Phillip Cash
Publisher: Red Feather Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (172 pgs)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Paul Russo’s wife just died. While trying to get his family’s life back in order, Paul is being tormented by a demon who is holding his wife’s spirit hostage on the other side. His fate is intertwined with an old haunted mansion on the north shore of Long Island called Stillwell Manor. Paul must find clues dating back hundreds of years to set his wife’s soul free.

This is the third book I’ve read by this author and like the previous two this was a fun and spooky read. Mr. Cash is an author who clearly loves writing in this genre and it shows on every page.

If you’re looking for true horror than this book isn’t for you but if like me, you can’t resist a great ghost story then I think this fits the bill.

What I enjoy most about this author’s work is while there’s a meaty paranormal plot going on he doesn’t shortchange the reader with the characters. Each one is carefully crafted and the lead one is always someone you like and cheer for. For me that’s what makes paranormal and horror books so good, it’s not just me being scared, but being scared about something bad happening to a great character and that’s what this book was all about.

The pacing on this story was spot on too and I found myself reading it in just two sittings. I loved the setting and I could imagine Stillwell and the wishing well clearly in my mind. There’s nothing like an older house with a reputation of sorts to make your skin tingle.

It’s almost Halloween and if you’re in the mood for something creepy, I’d say check out Stillwell.

Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt

Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (292 pages)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Defense attorney Andy Carpenter manages to sail through any tough situation whether inside the courtroom or in his personal life. But this all changes when his marriage breaks up and his father suddenly dies, leaving him distraught – and 22 million dollars richer.

A death, a mystery, a courtroom… and a golden retriever!

I’d never read a book by the author David Rosenfelt before. I’m glad I remedied that. I love books with animals in them and this book was gripping. I had to keep going to unravel the mystery as well as to see how the dog fared. Be warned, I’m the type who wants the dog to survive–above all else. If you’re like me, then this book is for you.

I do have to say there were moments when this book seemed like the first novel by a first time author. There was a lot of telling in the beginning and the first half of the book dragged. But I suggest you slog through it. The story is very much worth it.

Of all of the characters, I loved Tara, the dog, the best. I could see her and loved when she showed up on the scene. There was one particular scene that angered me, but it concerned the choices of the human characters. I also enjoyed the character of Laurie, although I wished she’d have grown more of a backbone. Still, I rooted for her.

The main character of Andy…he left a little to be desired for me. I liked him as a lawyer and how he grew through the story. But his immaturity at times grated on my nerves. He needed to go through this journey to grow in his maturity, but also to come to grips with who he is.

There were plenty of twists and turns I never saw coming. Between courtroom antics, lies and Andy’s past coming back to haunt him, I had to keep reading to know what would happen next.

If you like a good mystery with eclectic characters, then this might be the book for you.

Death by Diploma by Kelley Kaye

Death by Diploma by Kelley Kaye
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (235 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Emma Lovett leaves her philandering husband and crosses the country to begin her teaching career at a high school in Pinewood, Colorado.There, she meets Leslie Parker, a fellow teacher given to quoting Shakespeare to fit all situations, and the two become fast friends.

Arriving at work early one morning, Emma discovers the body of the school custodian, a man who reminds her of her late father. When the police struggle to find the killer, the ladies decide to help solve the murder. Their efforts lead them to a myriad of suspects: the schizophrenic librarian, the crude football coach, the mysterious social studies teacher, and even Emma’s new love interest.

As Emma Lovett discovers the perils of teaching high school, she and Leslie learn more than they ever wanted to know about the reasons people kill.

School is supposed to be a place to learn, not a place to die.

Emma and Leslie’s budding friendship was one of my favourite things about this tale. I learned a lot about both of them by seeing how quickly they started spending time together and what a good time they had every time they met up. Their personalities complemented each other nicely. I also liked seeing how both of the characters were different from each other. Emma seemed to be a little more quiet and shy, so it was fascinating to watch Leslie bring out parts of her personality that no one else could.

There were a few mild pacing issues in the beginning. The main character spent a lot of time telling the audience about how she was handling her new job and what she thought about the people she met there before the circumstances surrounding the murder were discussed. This did slow down the plot a little at first, but the rest of the book more than made up for that.

The mystery was really well done. I enjoyed seeing how Emma snuck around the school and other places in order to find new clues about the murder since there weren’t many of them in the beginning. She definitely had her work cut out for her. The fact that nothing was revealed easily made this a lot of fun to read. I silently cheered every time she uncovered another clue or learning something new about an existing one.

I’d recommend Death by Diploma to anyone who likes a little romance in their murder mysteries.

Love on the Sweet Side by Mariah Ankenman

Love on the Sweet Side by Mariah Ankenman
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (308 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Maggie Evans is back in Peak Town, Colorado to take over her grandmother’s cupcake shop, but problems keep arising. Is it rotten luck…or something more nefarious? To top it off, her former best friend/childhood crush, Colton Denning, won’t leave her alone. He’s sexier than ever. But Maggie has no time for love.

When his best friend comes back into town all grown up, Colton finds his feelings for her go far beyond friendship. Unfortunately, the pretty baker only sees him as the town playboy. He plans to convince her otherwise, but may not get the chance when someone starts threatening Maggie’s life.

Whether she likes it or not, Colton plans to take her safety into his own hands. How will Maggie keep her shop afloat with a madman after her? More importantly, how will she keep her heart intact when Colton admits her safety isn’t the only thing he wants in his hands?

This was the perfect book for me to escape from the summer heat. It was literally refreshing to read a story staged during the late winter season in Colorado with snow. I lowered my A/C and snuggled with a blanket and thoroughly enjoyed reading about Maggie and Colton’s growing attraction & evolving relationship with each other.

I was a little annoyed with Maggie’s insecurities regarding trust in Colton that he wouldn’t leave her but, lucky for her I can’t resist reading about a hero that is a strong cowboy with an instinct to protect those he loves.

The story was cleverly written and often made me chuckle at Maggie’s quick wit and Colton’s persistent humorous teasing. The synopsis mentioned a mad man was after Maggie which made it difficult for her to run her cupcake bakery shop. This suspense kept me turning the pages.

The plot wasn’t totally predictable; I suspected who was threatening Maggie’s life but wasn’t 100% sure. I thought the story was well written and flowed smoothly with plenty of interesting twists. I particularly enjoyed Colton’s clever and unique proposal to Maggie at the end. I have to mention that the descriptions of the cupcakes were to die for. I seriously was craving one of Maggie’s cupcakes and wished her shop existed locally near me.

I am curious if a story will be written for her best friend Lizzy and Colton’s brother, Dade. They would make an interesting couple. I would definitely buy this book and recommend it to my friends but I’d warn them to have a cupcake to go with it. 🙂

Miles of Files by Michael J. Sanho

Miles of Files by Michael J. Sanho
Publisher: Sanho Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (327 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

In Miles of Files, the main character, Paul Panepinto, an employee at Flambet Insurance, learns that his manager Graham Woodcock is stealing from the company. Paul struggles with whether or not to report the boss at the risk of losing his position. Eventually, Graham fires Paul anyway and Paul is forced to pursue justice, but the story doesn’t end as expected. Readers move through a fast-paced adventure with many twists and turns, including high points, drama, comedy, and an edge that Sahno captures through his writing.

Imagine a world where desire, greed, and insurance all converge. Imagine in this world, not too different from the world we live in; can teach you a little about the dark world of money laundering.

Miles of Files is a fascinating look into the world of Flambet Insurance. While the main character, Paul Panepinto, grapples with the reality that he accidently stumbled on an embezzlement scheme, the reader gets a peek into the true lives of the Flambets. It is not hard to see that greed and misfortune are the family’s undoing. On the outside the bustling insurance company looks to post great profit, while on the inside the reader gets to see the reality of where the money is going.

Michael J. Sanho is a great author who can bring the daily tasks of office routine into a new light. The reader gets the comedy of the events, the irony of Paul’s career and in the final sequence of events, an ending that few would ever see coming. The author takes the time to put in small details of the work that is done by the employees and then takes great care into putting those details into the overall plotline.

The characters are deep, well thought out and are not placed in the story haphazardly. I especially enjoyed the girl’s nights out where it was always a simple outing and often would turn into a disaster! Paul also enjoyed his own struggles where his romantic life was one that was a struggle where the reader is silently screaming “don’t call her!”

Miles of Files is at heart, a mystery but invokes great emotions from the reader including anxiety, fear and even frustration at being placed on hold. You definitely don’t want to miss out on reading this one!

More Than a Lawman by Anna J. Stewart

More Than a Lawman by Anna J. Stewart
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length Full Length (228 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Haunted by the death of her childhood friend, journalist Eden St. Claire has dedicated her life to catching serial killers—and she’s always done so alone. But when the lethal murderer Eden is tracking puts her in danger’s crosshairs, she agrees to accept protection from longtime friend Detective Cole Delaney.

Cole has secretly carried a torch for Eden for years. She might not want to let anybody in, but the thought of losing her is unbearable. Passions flare as the threats intensify. Can Cole convince Eden to break her own rule to never fall in love…before the killer snuffs out their happily-ever-after?

I am very thankful that I got to review this book. Let’s just say, “Wow!” If you at all like the T.V. show, Criminal Minds, then this book is for you.  Hopefully the very first page will grip you like it did me and keep you on the edge of your seat as it did me until I finished the book. The plot keeps twisting with unexpected surprises.

The main characters, Eden and Cole, are meant for each other. I personally was a bit annoyed for Cole regarding Eden’s lack of listening skills but obviously he loved her unconditionally. By the end of the book I couldn’t help but love not only the hero and heroine but all the other well established characters as well.

I most definitely recommend this book but I must warn you that it ends with a hook. While one case is solved there is another that is left unresolved. For that reason I’m left feeling frustrated because I want to read the next book right now. I can’t wait to read the next book and meet my new favorite characters again and solve the remaining case.

The 13 of Hearts by Kay Springsteen

The 13 of Hearts by Kay Springsteen
Publisher: esKape Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (362 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Lin is a mother on the run from a painful and deadly past. She’ll do anything to protect her children. But a damaged marine with PTSD and a bad case of superstition threatens their safety when he grows close enough to uncover her secrets.

US Marine Pete “Rabbit” Kincaid only wants to go back on deployment, but after his most recent injury, he might not make it back into the fight. When he meets Lin Doyle, a young mother of two, he quickly realizes the fight has come to him.

Is his heart big enough to save them from her past?

Peter (Rabbit) Kincaid keeps crossing the path of Lin Doyle and her two children. Lin is a single mother with a past, who tries to remain a recluse. At first Rabbit helps because he feels sorry for her, but pity quickly turns to intrigue and an attraction he is unable to fight.

This is an excellent book. The conflict between the main characters is offset by the people at the homely B&B where Rabbit lives, and the decision they all make to help Lin fight her past. The characters are well crafted from moody Pete who is suffering post traumatic stress disorder to Lin’s son Nate who hides his mother’s secret but by doing this loses his childhood. There were warm moments, cold moments, frightening situations and imagined problems. I loved the way Lin and Pete unsuccessfully fought the feelings they had for each other and have to add that this was totally believable.

The author led me to believe I had guessed the hidden mystery of the book, but still kept me interested enough to keep reading. Thank goodness I did because I was wrong. I hadn’t been lead astray, just reached the wrong conclusion with the clues given.

September Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ The Smoke Hunter by Jacquelyn Benson

The Smoke Hunter by Jacquelyn Benson
Publisher: Grand Central
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (436 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Chasing a threat born in smoke…

London, 1898. Archivist Eleanora Mallory discovers a map to a legendary city . But is it the key to unravelling an ancient mystery or a clever hoax?

Compelled to find out, Ellie journeys to Central America – with a merciless enemy hot on her heels.

In a race to uncover the map’s secret first, Ellie is forced to partner with maverick archaeologist Adam Bates, a man she’s not sure she can trust. Together, they venture into an uncharted wilderness alive with smoke and shadows, where an even greater danger awaits them.

For what lies there whispering to be unearthed has the power to bring the world to its knees.

Join Ellie and Adam as they battle rivers of scorpions, plummeting waterfalls and pre-historic death traps on the journey to uncovering a deadly secret that could shake the fate of the world.


Let Freedom Ring by June Summers and Wendelin Saunders

Let Freedom Ring by June Summers and Wendelin Saunders
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (331 pages)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

When Avery Archer, an eleven-year-old boy, telephones Ken Driscoll, a young accountant, and pleads for help in escaping from his kidnappers, Ken thinks the boy is playing a sick prank. But after several daily calls, Ken truly believes the boy is in danger. When Ken contacts the local police for assistance, he learns Avery was abducted sixty-seven years ago and eaten by alligators in a nearby lake.

Were they just prank telephone calls in the middle of the night, or was it a desperate cry for help?

The calls eventually force Ken to examine what is important in his life. His job? His relationship with his fiancée? Or the life of the boy at the end of the telephone line?

Eleven year old Avery Archer has been kidnapped and his only contact is Ken Driscoll. Ken would like to rescue Avery. The only problem is the boy was kidnapped sixty-seven years ago and the state declared him dead even though his body has never been found. Ken tries to help Avery through the maze of escaping his kidnappers, but the time spent researching the crime and deciding how to help affects his job and his relationship with his fiancée who lives some distance away.

The mystery of how Avery can talk to Ken, the suspense that occurs when Ken attempts to alter events that have already happened, and the disbelief of the few people he confides in, make Ken’s life one big chaotic mess.

The author wove the story through the events without giving anything away, making it intriguing enough for me as the reader to have to carry on to find out what happened, or what would happen. Not exactly a time travel novel, but very close to this genre. It was easy to empathize with Avery and Ken and the descriptions also helped to envision the setting.

A Father for Daisy by Jennifer Wenn

A Father for Daisy by Jennifer Wenn
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (218 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Thirteen years ago, at her senior prom, Gillian Crane did the unthinkable – she became drunk for the first time and lost her virginity to an unknown man. Later, when she found out she was pregnant, her unloving, unyielding mother threw her out and told her never to return.

Gillian succeeds in building a new life for herself in New York City, vowing never to see her childhood home again. But when she learns her mother is dying, she drags her twelve-year-old daughter back to hell on earth, also known as Barnesville. Once again caught in small town life amongst old friends and enemies, her past comes back to haunt her, turning her world upside down as the question still remains. Who is the father of her child?

For a small town, Barnesville seems to have its share of small town chaos. Gillian Crane is summoned to her home town due to her mother’s illness. Will this visit allow Gillian to be able to reconcile relationships from her past along with discover who’s her daughter’s father?

I have mixed feelings about this book. Barnesville is a nice small town and the story was believable in that aspect. The small town people and closeness of such. Everyone knows everyone, the gossip mill and the picture of the legendary Main Street; the location for the family restaurant and church. I found it puzzling that Gillian came back to town because her mother was sick, but Gillian’s purpose seemed more about who was her daughter’s father. What mother wouldn’t want a father for her daughter? Gillian’s prom night left her inebriated and pregnant. Now Gillian has found the courage to find out what happened that night.

Gillian’s mother is sick and the story really didn’t touch much on why the relationship between Gillian and her mother Rachel was dysfunctional. For Rachel to be on her death bed I would have expected her to be more compassionate and wanting to leave with her daughter’s relationship in a better place. There was no resolution or feelings to the mother-daughter relationship. Since this is such a touchy matter, as a reader I would have liked to have been given more about why there was such a strain on this relationship.

Gillian wasn’t aware of the feelings Andrew had for her. She has always had her eyes set on Lucas. For some reason Gillian’s mom decides now is the time to reveal family secrets and this leads Gillian’s pursuit to turn towards Andrew. This made her seem desperate and in urgent need of a man. Once Gillian and Andrew start their relationship it moves so fast it was very difficult to believe. The story was set in length to possibly keep the reader in suspense, but to me it was pretty predictable.

The writing is good and told in a easy to read format. The plot is interesting and one that had my attention to know why Gillian didn’t know who was the father of her child. There’s something about stories that take place in small towns that I find very likable. The plot was one that had a few holes in it to me but overall this is an enjoyable quick read with a resolution for Gillian. If you enjoy a book with a happy ending of love this is a book you will want to add to your reading list.