The Wrong Words by Yvonne Rediger


The Wrong Words by Yvonne Rediger
An Adam Norcross Mystery Book 1
Publisher: BWL Publishing Inc.
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Adam Norcross is not in a good place. He recently buried his mother and now he needs something more than a power struggle between him and his mother’s cat to distract him from his grief. That something comes in the form of an assignment from his boss, Walter Shapiro, who is not a patient man. Not surprising since he reports directly to the prime minister. Shapiro interrupts Norcross’ bereavement leave to give him an assignment. Norcross’ task is to find out how the country’s most eminent climate scientist ended up dead off the highway in a mountain ravine. Was it an accident or suicide? As soon as he speaks to Shapiro, Norcross’ unique precognitive ability tells him it is something else, something darker.

Sergeant Bethany Leith is not thrilled to have Norcross stepping on her toes. Even though Constable Bighetty is willing to give Norcross the benefit of the doubt. Once he inserts himself into Leith’s suspicious death inquiry, Norcross will use his investigative knowledge and unusual talents to help her uncover who wanted Doctor Flete dead and why.

Salish University is ground zero for the investigation. Among those involved are Flete’s dean, his wife, and his new girlfriend. Then there are his colleagues, some of whom denounced Doctor Flete’s important work, including a woman from Adam Norcross’ past.

I can’t believe how fast time flew while I read this story! I wasn’t sure what I was going to experience but the blurb mentioned the main character, Adam Norcross, had some type of precognitive ability. That intrigued me. Since it is the first book in the series, I figured there’d be some interesting worldbuilding going on. Well, I’m not sure how to explain things but I guarantee you that this book is absolutely interesting.

The mystery takes place in Canada and starts off kind of slow – Adam is having a personality struggle with a cat. What I think is happening is that both the cat and Adam are coming to grips with the loss of Adam’s mom, and they have to turn to each other, in a cat/human kind of way, and adjust. That tiny thread of pet relationship challenges is woven throughout the story, giving it a softer touch given how serious the situation is that Adam finds himself in. It’s endearing and it makes Adam more appealing. I sympathized with him easier because of it. The hero is not a soft guy – he himself is a bit mysterious. I liked that. He’s part of some governmental arm of the law that is quite hush-hush, very influential and Adam reminds me of a low-key James Bond. He’s professional, knowledgeable, and a great observer of people. He has this really amazing memory ability, and he can cook!

I know that Adam is the main focus of the series and it’s told in his point of view, but Sergeant Bethany Leith, the police officer, is the other main character. The death happened in her district and she’s the one assigned to the case. I only get to know her a bit from her dealings with Adam, her dialogue and the author’s descriptions. She’s no nonsense, dedicated and smart as a whip. She is a perfect complement to Adam.

The book reads like a serious detective novel. Adam isn’t referred to as Adam, he’s usually, Norcross. And the Sergeant is referred to as Leith, or ‘the cop’. The story has a certain feel to it, like the original Dragnet, but with a bit more personality. It’s a dogged pursuit of facts gleaned from evidence at the scene and lots of interesting interviews with potential suspects whose personalities liven up the tale. I was fascinated on how the author led me from chapter to chapter, each one bringing me closer to solving the case but leaving me totally dependent on Norcross and Leith to ferret out the truth of who done it. I guessed and was close. However, one of them was a shocker and I didn’t know what to think. Was that person truly guilty? I would have bet that they were innocent. That’s a pretty tricky call and I like what the author did.

One thing that stood out for me was the subject matter the victim was involved in. I haven’t made up my mind about which side of the fence I’m on, especially since it’s very topical right now. But many parts in the chapters made me believe that the author truly did her due diligence and researched the subject. There were many observations that made so much sense to me, at times I just stared at the words, letting them absorb into my brain. I’m like, yeah – yeah, that makes sense! And, yes, it did tie in to the motivation and plot conflict. I thought it was pretty danged cool and it made for a really great mystery.

There is a light dusting of allusion to Norcross actually liking Leith as more than a peer of the law, but it’s absolutely not romantic. I can assure you it’s not indigestion he’s feeling, it’s something else, and it could be a wonderful future development if that’s the direction the author is thinking of going. I liked how they worked together, eventually. They were bouncing theories, ideas and observations off of one another. I enjoyed watching their working association firm up and I liked how they showed mutual respect, once it was earned. There were other important secondary characters Norcross also had to earn respect from, and that was equally fascinating.

Eventually, the puzzle pieces fit together and I was completely satisfied with the end results. I have to say that the blurb on Amazon is a bit misleading. The story is even better than it sounds. I’m extremely glad I gave this book a try because if the next installment in the series is as mesmerizing and clever as this one, then Ms. Rediger has a new fan. A straight mystery is not my typical read but I really enjoyed this novel and I’m looking forward to more from this author.

Death at Little Mound by Eileen Charbonneau


Death at Little Mound by Eileen Charbonneau
Linda Tassel Mysteries Book 1
Publisher: BWL Publishing Inc.
Genre: Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.), Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Young archeology dig site supervisor Linda Tassel and assistant Tad Gist explore the artifacts of ancient people of Linda’s Eastern Cherokee homeland. But soon the body of a team member is found, ritually murdered.

A dam building mogul, Cherokee Nation activists, and the owner of a nearby gold panning attraction are suspects.

Linda and Tad uncover another layer — that of the Spanish conquistadors and the timeless greed for gold. Will they become two more victims?

Every speck of dirt must be accounted for in order to solve this mystery.

My favorite portions of this book were the ones that explored the history, traditions, and beliefs of the Cherokee tribe. The author went into detail on these topics as often as the plot allowed her to do so. I didn’t know much about Cherokee culture, so I was grateful for all of the knowledge she shared. It helped me to understand the main character’s perspective in life and gave logical reasons for why Linda made certain decisions.

The limited amount of character development was my only reason for giving this a three star rating. I liked the characters quite a bit, but I didn’t see much personal growth in them at all. My hope is that the later installments in this series will explore these issues in depth. There is certainly a lot of space to do so, and it would make me even more excited to read a sequel if I had reason to believe that the characters were evolving as a result of their earlier experiences.

Archaeology is a topic I’ve been interested in for years. I loved the scenes that described how meticulously Linda and all of the other workers were exploring the dig site and cataloguing everything they found. This is also something that happens to come in handy in a murder investigation, so combining these two things was an excellent idea.

I’d recommend Death at Little Mound to anyone who is interested in mysteries, archeology, or learning more about Cherokee culture.

The Trouble with Funerals by Joan Havelange


The Trouble with Funerals by Joan Havelange
Mabel and Violet’s Excellent Adventures, Book 3
Publisher: BWL Publishing INC
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The trouble with funerals is there are too many of them. Mabel’s mother is convinced there is something nefarious going on at the senior’s condo ‘Gravenhurst Manor.’ She convinces her daughter to look into the death of her best friend, Mini, who died in suspicious circumstances. If there is a cold, calculating murderer at work. Mabel needs to find the killer before it’s too late. Her mother could be next. But what is the motive? Why would anyone want to kill a senior? And her main suspect has a perfect alibi, namely Mabel.

Her reliable sidekick Violet is no longer reliable. Violet may have gotten herself involved with a con-man. Against the backdrop of the peaceful little town of Glenhaven, Mabel’s challenge is to solve the motiveless murders; and save Violet from herself.

Who would ever want to hurt senior citizens?

It made me smile to see so many references to Canadian culture here. The author did a great job of showcasing some of the many things that make Canada unique. There were some specific items like certain local foods mentioned for readers who have lived in this country or are otherwise intimately familiar with it, but they were always explained in enough detail that people from other parts of the world can get in on the fun, too.

I noticed multiple punctuation and other errors in this book. Some of them made certain sentences difficult to understand, so I needed to reread them a few times to figure out which meaning was most likely. This was especially noticeable when a character’s first name suddenly changed at one point only to switch back to what it had been previously a few paragraphs later. Had there been another round or two of editing, I would have happily chosen a higher rating as the storyline itself was well done.

The cast of characters was large but easy to keep track of. I appreciated the fact that the author reminded readers of the relationships between certain folks who only showed up occasionally. That helped me remember who they were and when Mabel had last seen them.

This is the third instalment in a series. It can be read out of order or as a standalone work.

The Trouble with Funerals was a delightfully Canadian cozy mystery that I’d recommend to anyone who is intrigued by one or both of those topics.

Leah’s Surrender by A.M. Westerling


Leah’s Surrender by A.M. Westerling
The Ladies of Harrington House Book 2
Publisher: BWL Publishing
Genre: Historical, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

With the threat of scandal hanging over Lady Leah Harrington, her parents arrange a temporary position for her in Australia as a companion to her aunt. Leah vows that on her return to England, she will forge her own future as a published lady of letters. However, now that she’s learned men are not to be trusted, having her sensibilities muddled by a dashing navy captain is not what she had planned for herself.

Despite France’s ever-present menace during the Napoleonic Wars, Captain Heath Trevelyan is ordered to transport a load of convicts aboard HMS Charlotte Mary destined for the penal colony of Australia. As a favour to a friend, he also provides passage for an alluring young woman and her aunt. When his ship sinks during a storm, a battle of endurance ensues for Heath and the survivors, including several convicts and the beauty who has captured his senses.

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Well, I’ll be the first to eat my words. I read and reviewed book one in this series and didn’t really think I’d read the next one considering the heroine was going to be Leah Harrington and I wasn’t a fan. I admit that I was wrong. When will I ever learn to “never say never”? I love how this book turned out!

In truth, Leah’s Surrender can be read as a standalone but you might want to read about her in the first book in the series. Why? Because I think you might be surprised about Leah. She caused quite the conflict in the first novel which made for an excellent plot. Because of that, I wasn’t sure how she’d be redeemed in my eyes enough to have her own story. I assure you that the evolution of Leah was well written.

Actually, upon further pondering I’ve changed my mind. I absolutely recommend reading the first one prior to Leah’s Surrender because a reader should fully feel the effect of the scandal hanging over Lady Leah’s head. The more I reflect on Leah’s character, the more my opinion changes. I have to consider her age and that her reactions and choices were appropriate in Sophie’s Choice. I didn’t put much consideration into that fact at the time. As you can see, this series could very well be a great choice for a book club debate. But I’ll give credit where credit is due. Heath helped redeem Leah in my eyes. His perspective of her swung me around to team Leah. I would have preferred her age to be slightly higher, but given this is an historical book, I realize that was probably how it was back then. So, as I said before, her behavior was appropriate for her age and therefore necessary to be accurately written as such.

Even though I’ve gone back and forth about the heroine’s character, the unquestionable fact is that A.M. Westerling’s writing style is absolutely remarkable. I have a memory like Dory in the movie Finding Nemo so the fact that I remember my emotions from Sophie’s Choice is a testimony in itself. The Ladies of Harrington House series is unforgettable and I attribute that to the writing style. It made me feel as if I was in the story as a witness. Oh, I can’t forget to mention a certain villainous character that reappears in Leah’s Surrender. That was a nice plot twist.

If you are debating if you should read Sophie’s Choice first or not I’m going to share what’s in my heart. I think Leah’s Surrender will be better for readers after reading the first novel in the series. The characters are very well developed and a strong relationship is built between the reader and the characters. Book two continues that sense of connection. A.M. Westerling has succeeded in wiping out all previous reservations I might have had early on.

Now, I could re-write this review to try to share even more of my favorite parts because there is a great deal of content to reflect upon. One of them is when the hero, Heath’s, ship sinks during a storm. I should have had my life jacket on reading that scene. I’d love to be saved by Captain Heath Trevelyan! Not only does he meet all my book boyfriend qualities but his name alone is swoon worthy. I just love the name Heath. In the words of an Italian Chef, al bacio!

Regarding Heath and Leah’s relationship, I did find it entertaining and I was in full support of their satisfying happily ever after. I’m pleased at how the entire flow of the book kept me guessing what was going to happen next from beginning to end. Leah’s Surrender was hard to put down. Catherine is the next sister in line for her own story and now I can’t wait to read the third book! This is one series I’m glad I discovered and definitely recommend others to discover it too.

Remembering Rose by Sheila Claydon


Remembering Rose by Sheila Claydon
Publisher: BWL Publishing
Genre: Suspense/Mystery/Thriller, Romance, Paranormal, Contemporary, Historical
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Rachel has a husband who adores her, a beautiful baby daughter, and an extended family she can rely on, so why isn’t she happy? She doesn’t know and nor do the people who love her. Only Rose understands but she is trapped in another century. To help Rachel she has to breach the boundaries of time itself as well as risk exposing the truth of her own past.

When echoes from that past begin to affect other people in the village of Mapleby, things suddenly become a lot more complicated. Can Rachel put things right without giving away Rose’s secret?

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Rachel’s character development was handled beautifully. To be honest, I didn’t like her very much when I first met her because of how negative and critical she was about everything in her life. It was only once I realized that these parts of her personality were symptoms of her postpartum depression and I saw glimpses of who she was before she’d had a baby that my opinion of her began to shift. This was an intelligent way to show how this illness affects not only the new mother but everyone else around her. I truly enjoyed seeing how she coped with her overwhelming feelings and what her loved ones did to help her feel better.

The beginning and middle of this book were well-written and entertaining. Unfortunately, I was disappointed in how rapidly everything was wrapped up in the ending. There were some fantastic subplots that never had enough time to be fully developed. Even the main storyline felt rushed in the last few chapters, especially when it came to Rachel putting all of the clues together and figuring out what Rose wanted from her. If not for these issues, I would have happily gone with a much higher rating.

Some of the most interesting scenes were the ones that showed the audience the many similarities between Rachel and Rose’s lives. Some families repeat the same patterns for generations without necessarily being aware that this is happening. For example, both Rose and Rachel were spoiled youngest children whose parents let them get away with things that would have never been tolerated if their much-older siblings had tried the same stuff. I’ll leave it up to other readers to discover the other similarities for themselves, but I thought this was all nicely explained.

Anyone who likes genealogical or historical mysteries should give Remembering Rose a try.

Drop Dead Cowboy by Diane Bator


Drop Dead Cowboy by Diane Bator
Publisher: BLW Publishing
Genre: Suspense/Mystery/Thriller, Contemporary
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

Audra Clemmings loves Halloween. At least until she sees the display of voodoo dolls in the shop next door that resembles nearly everyone in Sugarwood, Ontario–including her.

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This was not what I thought it was going to be. After some thought, I realized from the title it might be a romance which is not one of my favorite genres. In my mind I began thinking it might be about a “drop dead gorgeous” cowboy. I was pleasantly surprised to find out this was not the case. What this turned out to be was a light, and somewhat witty, cozy mystery. Any mystery is much more my thing.

Have you ever seen one of the episodes of Midsomer Murders? The town always seems to be having a festival. Drop Dead Cowboy is the same except this is a Halloween Festival with the skeletons, costumes, and all the makings of Halloween decorations. And even better, all the candy too. This Festival turned out to have a real murder as a decoration of sorts.

I mentioned Midsomer Murders because of its quaint village and Bator seems to draw the same type of picture here but with her own description. Her characters become fun and all have enough description to make the reading pleasant.

All in all this is an easy read. The type to curl up on the couch with.

Fun with Funerals by Yvonne Rediger


Fun with Funerals by Yvonne Rediger
A Musgrave Landing Mystery

Publisher: BWL Publishing Inc.
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Full length (182 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

Alicia Highmere is heading home, back to Musgrave Landing after a call from her mother’s care home. Accompanied by her bodyguard, Bryce Graham, Alicia won’t know until she gets there that Olivia Frost-Highmere is manipulating events regarding the estranged family members to suit her agenda.

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When a corpse is discovered in the family cemetery, where there shouldn’t be one, the cold case regarding Allister Highmere is reopened. Alicia has no idea who in the family or the Highmere estate staff is involved, but she will find out.

This book was a surprise…a particularly good one. This is a good story. It’s the kind that has you holding your breath a little, wondering what will happen and wondering if what you “hope”, will happen. It’s a cozy mystery with a lot of suspense; plenty of twists and turns. It’s a quick read but there is plenty of story between the opening page and the conclusion. And it wasn’t what I was expecting.

I think the title and cover are not representative of this story. It is not a book I would have picked up off the table to look at in the bookstore. I love cozies and I often think of them having certain elements. To me, that’s not true of this book. It has more depth, a deeper definition of its characters, and a serious storyline. And those are all good things!

This is an author with lots of ability. I’m not saying I think she’s writing in the wrong genre.  I just think this author is more of a heavyweight than the marketing of this story portrays. I’m not trying to say she needs to write longer books. Long is not always better.

I know I’m not saying this in the proper manner. This is a very good story told by a very good storyteller and I think maybe the book is underrated or not being marketed properly. Is its beauty and depth hidden behind the title? I’m not sure but I hope Ms. Rediger writes some more.

The Rumrunner’s Boy by E.R. Yatscoff


The Rumrunner’s Boy by E.R. Yatscoff
Publisher: BWL Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Action/Adventure, Historical
Length: Full Length (190 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Canadians are only too happy to supply liquor to thirsty Americans during U.S. Prohibition. Jarrod Hooker, 17, steps in for his injured father on a rum running crew smuggling liquor across Lake Erie. It’s a lucrative job they cannot afford to lose.

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Whatever happens on the next run will change everything for everyone. Amid sabotage and bullets flying, Jarrod must put his trust in a very dangerous man. Although Canada is only a few miles offshore, it may as well be a world away.

Smuggling is a dangerous job even at the best of times.

The character development was well done. This was true not only for Jarrod but also for many of the other people he spent time with at home and while smuggling alcohol across the border. I had a crystal clear picture in my mind of what everyone looked and sounded like. That’s always something I appreciate in a story, especially when it involves as many different folks as this one did. It made me want to keep reading until I learned what everyone’s fate was!

I would have liked to see a little more attention paid to wrapping up the ending, especially when it came to the health of Jarrod’s dad. Earlier scenes spent so much time exploring this topic and showing how Jarrod’s duties to his family were preventing him from reaching other goals. Many of the other subplots were resolved nicely. I would have given this book a five-star rating if this portion of the storyline was given as much attention.

There were times I felt like I’d actually travelled back in time to the 1920s due to how strong the world building was. The author clearly put a lot of effort into researching how farming families lived in this era. Everything from what people ate to how they kept themselves clean in a world where every warm bath required some prep work were described in exactly the right amount of detail.

Anyone who likes history or adventure should check out The Rumrunner’s Boy.

Wild Horse Rescue by Nancy M Bell


Wild Horse Rescue by Nancy M Bell
Publisher: BWL Publishing Inc
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (161 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Chamomile
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This story starts off with a rescue mission, and the action and excitement never let up! Laurel’s friend Coll is visiting from Cornwall, but her plans to show him around the ranch are thrown in disarray, as a local herd of wild horses are in danger of being rounded up and sold for meat! Like many other horse focused series, this feels a bit like the type of plot expected in The Heartland Series, or for younger watchers The Saddle Club.

I really enjoyed this style, and read this one quickly, which was made easier as this story plays out like a show, and the detail and characters were both realistic and vivid enough that I read most of this in one sitting! The story does deal with some more mature issues teens face, other than the ‘meat packers’ there’s also issues of physical and alcohol abuse and some teen/YA type sexual awakening dealt with in the story. It’s nothing not mentioned in other books or shows, but still isn’t a completely ‘clean’ read either.

As mentioned above, I really liked the writing style used, and look forward to reading more like this from Ms. Bell’s work! While this is YA, adults can enjoy this too, and this actually is one of those stories that doesn’t really feel ‘too young’ if you enjoy The Heartland Series type TV show, then this has a similar feel!