Moving Is Murder by Joan Havelange

Moving Is Murder by Joan Havelange
Publisher: BLW Publishing Inc.
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

How well do you know your neighbours?

Linda Burton is house-sitting for her aunt’s friend in the pretty little town of Glenhaven. Linda, who has spent her working career in the city, has fallen in love with the pleasant little country village. Everyone she has met is so friendly.

Strolling down the alley one evening in search of Gertrude, a pet cat. She hears a voice complaining about burying a body. Not completely convinced she heard correctly. Linda decides to emulate her heroes. Amateur detectives. She tries her hand at detecting. Unfortunately, Linda puts her trust in the wrong person.

Can Linda outwit the killer? Will her aunt Violet figure out the clues Linda has left? And even if Violet does, will it be too late for Linda? And will Violet fall into the same trap?

Even the sleepiest small Canadian town can hide deadly secrets.

The mystery was exciting and well-paced. Linda quickly found herself wrapped up in something she was wildly unprepared for, so I had to keep reading to see how she’d react to the most recent threat to her safety. That’s the sort of storytelling that I like to find, and it made me curious to read more from Ms. Havelange than I already have so far.

There were times when I struggled with Linda’s blunt and sometimes awkward personality. Given that she had heard a lot of stories about her aunt’s previous cases, I was surprised by how socially unaware she could be in sensitive and potentially quite dangerous situations like sneaking into other people’s backyards or homes to see if they had dead bodies stashed anywhere there. This would have made more sense for the first instalment of a series, but it felt out of place for me for a character who should have known better. If this had been explained better, I would have felt comfortable choosing a higher rating as I am a fan of her and the other main characters in general and have enjoyed what I’ve read about them so far.

I appreciated the descriptions of the many reasons why some people are drawn to small town life. The narrator did a good job of explaining the benefits to knowing all of the neighbors well and of living in a quiet place that tends to stay more or less the same from one year to the next. I could feel the author’s love of this setting, and it made me smile to see her spend so much time developing it as well as the unique folks who lived in Glenhaven.

This book is part of a series, but it can be read out of order or as a standalone work.

Moving Is Murder kept me guessing.

Sophie’s Choice by A.M.Westerling

Sophie’s Choice by A.M.Westerling
The Ladies of Harrington House Book 1
Publisher: BWL Publishing Inc.
Genre: Historical, Romance
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Lady Sophie Harrington is not one to abide by society’s strictures. If there’s one thing she knows, it’s that she will not be paraded on the London marriage market in hopes of finding a suitable husband. When a handsome bachelor moves into the neighbouring country estate, she thinks her wedding prospects are solved – all she must do is make the man fall in love with her and convince her parents he would be a good match.

Successful barrister Lord Bryce Langdon escapes London to begin a new legal practice in the rugged county of Cornwall. However, being the object of desire for two beautiful sisters disrupts his life and distracts him from his true purpose for being there – infiltrating a local smuggler’s ring.

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2020 has been a challenging year for me to read. I picked three books to review months ago and they just sat unopened. I chose this particular book because I recognized the author as one I’ve read before and had enjoyed. I wasn’t sure if the timing to start a book yesterday was the best. However, once I started I was unable to put it down. Sophie’s Choice was the perfect distraction I needed.

I was especially excited to learn that this book is the first in The Ladies of Harrington House series. The cast of characters were relatable and well developed which made me anticipate the next book in the series. There are three sisters that will each get their own love story, Sophie, Catherine and Leah. Sophie’s Choice can easily be read as a standalone.

Sophie was my ideal heroine. I love witty, smart, independent woman with a touch of vulnerability. I equally love a hero who counteracts that. It makes for a fun entertaining read. Kudos to the couple when their bantering makes me laugh. I love a sparing couple who clearly is sensually attracted to each other with a web of other plot elements that keep the plot flowing and twisting.

Lord Bryce made my book boyfriend list. He had it all going on, between flirting with Sophie and infiltrating a local smuggler’s ring. I was in love.

I have to be transparent. I do want to read the rest of the books in the series especially Catherine’s story but I could see myself possibly passing on Leah’s story. She was the other sister who desired Bryce besides Sophia. It was clear as day that Bryce and Sophia were destined. Leah made for some awkward moments that added to my love of the story but to read a story of her own, I don’t know about that. Leah would seriously have to mature. It will be hard for me to forget that annoying little sister impression that I have of her.

Any hoot, I loved Sophie’s Choice and I recommend you give this series a chance.

Digger Doyle’s Book of Real Monsters by Daniel Warriner

Digger Doyle’s Book of Real Monsters by Daniel Warriner
Publisher: BWL Publishing Inc.
Genre: Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (210 pages)
Age Recommendation:10+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Digger Doyle was eight when his father set off on a secret adventure but did not return. Three years later, a page from his father’s ancient book is sent to Digger from northern Japan—a page only he can read. With his wild cousins, he sails to Japan and meets the super smart Yukiko Satori. Together they venture into the shadowy woods around the eerie Mount Osore to search for a ferocious creature called a Kappa and any clues as to the whereabouts of Digger’s father. The forest is dying. The river is poison. Animals are fleeing. Something is terribly wrong. Digger must face his deepest fears to stop it, and discovers that even when things seem gone in the dark, they are often still there.

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There were some truly magical creatures in this world. I liked the way the author spent time explaining their looks and abilities to the audience, especially since I don’t have a great deal of knowledge of Japanese and Asian folklore. It was nice to have such clear images of what these creatures were and why people reacted to them the way that they did. Some of the beasts were feared while others were deeply respected. They were all worth getting to know!

The pacing of this book was slow in the beginning. I struggled to remain interested in it until the plot picked up even though I was originally pretty interested in the subject matter. While I was grateful for the backstory and world building that were established early on, it sure would have been nice to have more action in the plot to keep my interest levels high until Digger’s adventures truly began.

One of the things I liked the most about this tale were the detailed, imaginative descriptions. Mr. Warriner painted such vivid pictures of the places Digger visited that I could see all of them perfectly clearly in my mind. It was like I was exploring those forests, rivers, and other places right beside him! They made me wonder what might happen next and if the places Digger visited would have even more surprises for him than I expected.

I’d recommend Digger Doyle’s Book of Real Monsters to anyone who enjoys adventure novels.

Her Vanquished Land by Diane Scott Lewis

Her Vanquished Land by Diane Scott Lewis
Publisher: BWL Publishing Inc.
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (272 pages)
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

In 1780, Loyalist Rowena Marsh insists on spying for the British during the American Revolution. As a girl, she must dress as a boy, plus endure devastation and murder as she decodes messages for a mysterious Welshman.

The tide has turned in the rebels’ favor. General George Washington appears to be winning. The loyalists are bombarded by threats and lost battles. Rowena stays determined to aid the British cause and preserve her family as they’re chased from their Pennsylvania home.

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This book starts out with a bang, and from a point of view readers are not often graced with. American loyalists are attacked by patriots during the American Revolution. Rowena, at seventeen, is a strong young woman, and quite the tomboy. Her brothers are fighting in the king’s army.

The story is peppered with period details, immersing us in this world. Rowena wants adventure and to be actively involve with the war effort, which would put her in danger. Seeing things through the eyes of a Loyalist family puts a new perspective on things. This is not a bad family. American readers can even sympathize with them if not agree with them. This is a good sign of good writing, giving us a fascinating view that is rarely seen.

There’s a mystery early on: Is Rowena’s cousin James a spy for the Loyalists, or is he possibly a Patriot?

And what about those just trying to survive this? Danger escalates. An underlying message of women’s importance, their contribution in the war weaves itself around the exciting plot.

It is a well-written story, produced by an author who knows the era. It comes across as very realistic. Rowena is constantly worried that the Royalists will not be victorious and what will become of her and her family if the “Rebels” win the war. We readers, knowing the outcome of the war, can’t help but to worry for this lovable character, whatever side we sympathize with. The author has done a good job of showing that people on both sides were complicated and not all good or bad.

Occasionally Rowena has a thought of understanding for the rebel side, making readers wonder how far this will go in the end. Details of espionage and intrigue keep those pages turning. This is an exciting historical novel well worth the read.