The Turnbull Murders by R.J. Koreto

The Turnbull Murders by R.J. Koreto
Publisher: Level Best Books
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary
Rated: 5 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Movie star Nicky Tallon selects architect Wren Fontaine to renovate Turnbull House, where he’ll be filming his next movie. Even to Wren, used to old homes, this one is special: a 200-year-old federal-style home on a private island in New York harbor, designed by the most celebrated architect of the day. But Turnbull House hides many secrets, such as the disappearance of the sea captain who built it. That’s just a historical curiosity, until a studio executive no one likes is killed.

Wren just wants to keep her worksite safe, but then another murder occurs, and she starts noting eerie connections between the mysteries surrounding the Turnbull family and Nicky and his entourage. The handsome star seems to have two girlfriends, a childlike folk singer and a cynical fashion model. Meanwhile, renowned actress Veronica Selwyn renews a friendship with Wren’s father, which Wren finds more disturbing than she wants to admit. She concludes it’s time she and her girlfriend Hadley take the next step and find a place together, an exciting but stressful change.

As the attacks continue, Wren realizes she will have to solve the mysteries surrounding Captain Turnbull and Nicky Tallon. Turnbull House speaks of order and harmony, and Wren must dig deep to see how the house has affected its owners, old and new. Fortunately for her, the eminently practical Hadley is by her side, pepper spray at the ready—because a frighteningly clever killer is about to find that Wren is getting too close to the horrific truth.

The intriguing characters we meet at the opening of The Turnbull Murders grabbed this reader’s interest right away. R.J. Koreto described this new work as a ‘Historic Homes Mystery,’ and I for one, never imagined what a super backdrop architecture could be for a murder.

Our lead character, Wren, is as you have might have already guessed, an architect- but a special sort, with an interest not only in the history of certain styles of homes, but in the specific homes she is asked to restore. The home she tackles on Turnbull Island is that perfect icon of murder locations: it’s isolated. And, it has this sort of haunting back-story…none of which prepares either our lead, or the reader, for the first murder.

The investigation, while important, still takes a backseat to Wren’s interaction with her employer and his entourage. The world of the theater is another whole interesting part of the setting.

Wren’s girlfriend is incidentally involved at the start, as her job brings her to the same location. There’s a touch of family involvement, new friendships, and suddenly something that seems like another murder attempt. The threat looms and is cleverly tied to a long past mystery on Turnbull Island.

R.J. Koreto is brilliant at keeping the plot turning, all the while, keeping our attention on all these other, totally engaging, details. It’s hard to keep clues in mind while you are being entertained by gossip! To quote one of the characters: “Wow, just wow.”

This is a wonderful read, not only for mystery fans, but for anyone. It’s fast paced, with well-developed characters and an impossible to predict plot. Recommended!

Marvelous by Molly Greeley

Marvelous by Molly Greeley
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Historical, Romance
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Snapdragon

1547: Pedro Gonzales, a young boy living on the island of Tenerife, understands that he is different from the other children in his village. He is mercilessly ridiculed for the hair covering his body from head to toe. When he is kidnapped off the beach near his home, he finds himself delivered by a slave broker into the dangerous and glamorous world of France’s royal court. There “Monsieur Sauvage,” as he is known, learns French, literature, and sword fighting, becoming an attendant to the French King Henri II and a particular favorite of his queen, the formidable Catherine de’ Medici. Queen Catherine considers herself a collector of unusual people and is fascinated by Pedro…and determined to find him a bride.

Catherine Raffelin is a beautiful seventeen-year-old girl whose merchant father has fallen on hard times and offers up his daughter to Queen Catherine. The queen will pay his debts, and his daughter will marry Monsieur Sauvage.

Catherine meets Pedro for the first time on their wedding day. Barely recovered from the shock of her father’s betrayal, she soon finds herself christened “Madame Sauvage” by the royal courtiers, and must learn to navigate this strange new world, and the unusual man who is now her husband.

Gorgeously written, heartbreaking and hopeful, Marvelous is the portrait of a marriage, the story of a remarkable, resilient family, and an unforgettable reimagining of one of the world’s most beloved fairy tales.

The very unexpected beauty of Marvelous starts out as a promise that becomes, through Greeley’s elegant words, a complex, emotional and amazing story. She has a rather immediate style and seems to positively luxuriate in words, though we will notice that later, for at the start, and throughout really, the characters themselves have our attention.

We might dismiss the concept of arranged marriage as an old one. We romance readers might well believe we’ve seen it all in the ‘arranged marriage’ trope: the bride a mere pawn, but the marriage is suitable, or unsuitable, but love triumphs, or perhaps there is a last-minute rescue.

Yet here, in Marvelous, we are made to understand the bride’s dismay to deeply touching levels. This is only tempered by the sympathy the author has already developed in us, for the groom. Their situation is captivating. Their journey – in the courtly society of France in the 1500’s, has them struggle with church, community, and more, the court. We wonder, and then worry, for their future. Their humanity, and that of those around them, is subtly evaluated at every turn. On a day-to-day level, we feel the slightest highs, the depths of the lows. Every friendship is a treasure, their interests and pursuits often surprising. Even the most ordinary event, when they must meet it, will seem unique, because of who they are.

The events of the day are not overlooked, nor the political climate; the reality that was France at the time. Somehow, the ordinary human realm becomes a backdrop.

Greeley manages to convey a deep understanding of the two main characters. I don’t want to spoil a moment of reading, so suffice to say, that this long, involved tale is also incredibly moving and satisfying. It is a novel that one might open casually, but then discover it is somehow incredibly engaging.

One need not be a fan of historical fiction to find Greeley’s Marvelous to be a wonderful, engaging novel. Do read.

Kaleidomorphia by Kerby Rosanes

Kaleidomorphia by Kerby Rosanes
Publisher: Plume
Genre: Non-Fiction
Rated: 5 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

The astonishing second compilation of striking images taken from the Morphia series, with colored-in examples Kaleidomorphia is a stunning second compilation of Kerby Rosanes’s most remarkable artwork from his beloved mega-bestselling Morphia series. This collection, just like the first, Colormorphia, features a full-color sixteen-page section that showcases some of the most accomplished completed artworks produced by Kerby’s fans. These pages demonstrate the range of approaches colorists can experiment with when coloring.

The artworks displayed in the color section are included in the black-and-white section of the book, too, giving the reader the opportunity to duplicate the approach should they wish. In addition, there are a variety of images to color featuring the very best from Kerby’s Morphia portfolio.

Kaleidomorphia, offered as a ‘coloring challenge’ is a large coloring book that combines some opening text with many different and diverse images.

The author’s innovative approach to coloring offers the reader/artists (called ‘Colorists’ in the text) samples and discusses how colors and techniques allow for different effects. The opening offers us hints and ideas; from the use of different mediums like acrylics, or the careful selection of a limited palette, to create a certain effect.

This informative opening leads into the most amazing line drawings. The subject matter ranges from animal and scenics to fantasy and the fantastic. The level of detail in each page is astonishing.

To sit and page through slowly, even without coloring, allows one to escape into a quiet dream world, where lines become designs then somehow transform back into the initial subject. Many of the pictures come from a realist’s perspective although some do also have a simpler, or more cartoon-like quality.

I found Kerby Rosanes’s Kaleidomorphia a wonderfully enjoyable diversion and recommend it to all fans of coloring books.

Good Luck Chestnut by Linda Gruenberg

Good Luck Chestnut: And Other Lucky Colors of the World by Linda Gruenberg
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Children’s
Rated: 5 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy
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Good Luck Chestnut is a picture book full of colorful horses and colorful kids. In theory, the watercolor paintings illustrate horse colors, but in practice, they also capture the way children use horses as jungle gyms. The children sit backwards, hop on by leapfrogging, belly-flop off the horse into water, everything but sit forward in a saddle, riding-lesson proper. The names of horse colors are embedded in the text, while the various nationalities of the children visually round out the book’s concept. Any child should find themselves somewhere in the illustrations. This book is just yearning to be read aloud. The whole thing is a playground of rollicking slant rhymes hurtling itself toward the last simple message that every child deserves to hear.

Good Luck Chestnut: And Other Lucky Colors of the World is a delight to read, look at, and share. Delightfully dappled with cleverly combined words, the phrases all enhance the pictures. The book features horses, as one might guess, but also, features children! Smiling faces fill every page.

There is a bit of a clever ‘find it’ built into the pages, as certain items are mentioned within the sentences that can be located in the pictures. An unexpected item is often to be found decorating a corner or a t-shirt in the picture. However, the book is a collection of these delightful pages and does not build an actual story. Children won’t miss that if they take the time to enjoy each page and search out all of those subtle connections.

Good Luck Chestnut: And Other Lucky Colors of the World is a sheer delight and deserves every one of its 5 stars.

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Historical
Rated 5 stars
Review by Snapdragon

When Savannah history professor Everly Winthrop is asked to guest-curate a new museum collection focusing on artifacts recovered from the steamship Pulaski, she’s shocked. The ship sank after a boiler explosion in 1838, and the wreckage was just discovered, 180 years later. Everly can’t resist the opportunity to try to solve some of the mysteries and myths surrounding the devastating night of its sinking.

Everly’s research leads her to the astounding history of a family of eleven who boarded the Pulaski together, and the extraordinary stories of two women from this family: a known survivor, Augusta Longstreet, and her niece, Lilly Forsyth, who was never found, along with her child. These aristocratic women were part of Savannah’s society, but when the ship exploded, each was faced with difficult and heartbreaking decisions. This is a moving and powerful exploration of what women will do to endure in the face of tragedy, the role fate plays, and the myriad ways we survive the surviving.

You order viagra online can get pregnancy naturally by recommending the herbal pills to reverse the aging effects and enjoy intimate moments with her. He registers into a india viagra for sale surfing contest only to make it big while having fun. As time wears on, these physical signs worsen, but you attribute it to stress or getting continue reading over here now pfizer viagra pharmacy older. Depression is defined as viagra buy best a medical illness. Author Patti Callahan assures us that stories are ‘best understood in the landscapes where they happen,’ and proceeds to bring us to a wonderful, novel place, that we recognize as if we’d joined her there. Throughout the book, she brings us subtly to new landscapes: to a wreck a hundred feet below the sea, through intricate iron gates to the family plot, to cities described so vividly we see them as if they were an entirely new concept. Somehow, although the main character is powerful and the tone of Surviving Savannah is endlessly enthralling, the places we move to and through become endlessly important.

The moment-to-moment interactions of the characters are unpredictable, and this is certainly true for the overall story. Everly is a strong main character, with surprising interests and skills, but more importantly, a depth of feeling she shares ever so gently. We feel her mourning even as she is moving forward. Events of the past filter in with Everly’s discoveries; they are somehow no less heart-wrenching for being part of the long-ago.

This has the flavor of the American south, and a hint of endlessly reminiscing. Surviving Savannah is one of those novels you will read, and then re-read as if touching the life of an old friend.

Patti Callahan’s writing is no less than simply brilliant. “Sunlight cast him in gold” she describes at one point, and I would say, reading casts this novel in gold.

Do read Surviving Savannah. This is a venture away from the common time and place, yet familiar: warming and wonderful and worth every one of those five stars.

Crimson at Cape May by Randy Overbeck

Crimson at Cape May by Randy Overbeck
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (309 pgs)
Rated: 4 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

No matter how far you run, you can never really escape a haunted past.

Darrell Henshaw—teacher, coach, and paranormal sensitive—learned this lesson the hard way. Now, with his job gone and few options, he heads for Cape May to coach a summer football camp. The resort town, with gorgeous beaches, rich history and famous Victorian mansions, might just be the getaway he needs. Only, no one told him Cape May is the most haunted seaport on the East Coast.
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When a resident ghost, the Haunted Bride, stalks Darrell, begging for his help, he can’t refuse, and joins forces with Cassie, another sensitive. As Darrell and the street-wise teen investigate the bride’s death, they uncover something far more sinister than a murder. Can Darrell and Cassie expose those behind the crimes before they end up becoming the next victims?

Darrell Henshaw, the paranormal-sensitive first introduced in Overbeck’s Blood on the Chesapeake returns in another intriguing mystery, Crimson At Cape May.

Henshaw, caught in a difficult and unfair personal situation, is confronted with an old wrong, possibly a crime. We see him struggle to cope with both intrigue and ghosts as he sets about solving a missing-person case that might reveal a crime.

Henshaw’s character is immediately interesting, and his surroundings are so well described that the story is for me, completely believable. I fear that fans of mysteries might shy from picking up a book with that one word attached: paranormal. Yet, this mystery-lover was completely engaged by the intrigue and I suspect that fans of the paranormal will be entirely satisfied with this tale, as well.

Weirdly enough, it is some of the secondary characters, (especially those who seem to hate Henshaw) who help create a very ‘real’ environment. Oh, sure… the friends, Sara, Al, and Cassie are all important and it seems nothing speaks truer than hate, blame, and rage. And, of course, Henshaw hears how ruthless townfolk believe he is. And what the love of his life thinks of him… no giveaways here, but know: Emotions stomp their way out of this one!

Of course, there is something of a romance in this one, but the main story here is everything. Crimson at Cape May delivers an unpredictable mystery along with a powerful look at people, too.

Bells for Eli by Susan Beckham Zurenda

Bells for Eli by Susan Beckham Zurenda
Publisher: Mercer University Press
Genre: Historical (recent)
Length: Full Length (282 pgs)
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Snapdragon

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

First cousins Ellison (Eli) Winfield and Adeline (Delia) Green are meant to grow up happily and innocently across the street from one another amid the supposed wholesome values of small-town Green Branch, South Carolina, in the 1960s and 70s. But Eli’s tragic accident changes the trajectory of their lives and of those connected to them. Shunned and even tortured by his peers for his disfigurement and frailty, Eli struggles for acceptance in childhood as Delia passionately devotes herself to defending him. Delia’s vivid and compassionate narrative voice presents Eli as a confident young man in adolescence–the visible damage to his body gone–but underneath hides indelible wounds harboring pain and insecurity, scars that rule his impulses. And while Eli cherishes Delia more than anyone and attempts to protect her from her own troubles, he cares not for protecting himself. It is Delia who has that responsibility, growing more challenging each year. BELLS FOR ELI is a lyrical and tender exploration of the relationship between cousins drawn together through tragedy in a love forbidden by social constraints and a family whose secrets must stay hidden. Susan Beckham Zurenda masterfully transports readers into a small Southern town where quiet, ordinary life becomes extraordinary. In this compelling coming of age story, culture, family, friends, bullies, and lovers propel two young people to unite to guard each other in a world where love, hope, and connectedness ultimately triumph.

It is a great assurance for you to use it for long term results. order cheap viagra discover for source Extenze is an excellent male cialis discounts enhancement supplement, plus it helps alleviate erectile dysfunction and sexual problems. When that blood flow is diminished, they purchase viagra from india experience erectile dysfunction. The problem can generic levitra leave intercourse completely dissatisfied activity done in the bed. For a sweet touching first novel that is so much more than advertised, readers would do well to pick up Bells for Eli. Indeed, I was thrilled to discover that there are still novels that offer such depth of story and strength of character, without any sense of being high-brow.

It all sets off in a graveyard, where a brief chance meeting reveals a great deal about central characters, as well as giving us a sense of the character of this small southern town. It is a deceivingly quiet start for the drama that immediately follows.

No spoilers here! This story needs to be read and savored, without giveaways about events. The two main characters, Delia and Eli, are super, but no less are the many secondary characters: the parents who care so enormously, the families who are related, distantly, but all have that sense of kinship. The mid-twentieth-century in Small-Town South Carolina seems the perfect backdrop.

The harsh details are there, pulling us in from moment-to-moment, yet the details fade beside the emotion, from fear to curiosity, sometimes in as many words. There are moments when we readers grasp the significance of a thing, well before Delia does. It might be described as a coming-of-age novel, although I would say it’s about gaining understanding, and perhaps insight. It is not an entirely comfortable process.

Bells for Eli is simply beautifully written. Somehow, the words slip into the background as the story plays out for us. The author goes far beyond creating reader sympathy; we somehow step into that first summer and share so many firsts in the tenderest of lifetimes. Love is there in so many actions…

The gentle power of this novel completely surprised me. It’s a solid 5 star book. Do read.

This Terrible Beauty by Katrin Schumann

This Terrible Beauty by Katrin Schumann
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (381 pgs)
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Snapdragon

From the bestselling author of The Forgotten Hours comes an unforgettable story of one woman’s journey to reclaim what she lost in a country torn apart by the devastating legacy of WWII.

On the windswept shores of an East German island, Bettina Heilstrom struggles to build a life from the ashes. World War II has ended, and her country is torn apart. Longing for a family, she marries Werner, an older bureaucrat who adores her. But after joining the fledgling secret police, he is drawn deep into its dark mission and becomes a dangerous man.

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Ten years later, Bettina has reinvented herself as a celebrated photographer in Chicago, but she’s never stopped yearning for the baby she left behind. Surprised by an unexpected visitor from her past, she resolves to return to her ravaged homeland to reclaim her daughter and uncover her beloved’s fate, whatever the cost.

From the start of This Terribly Beauty we are effortlessly transported into Bettina’s life and her past. Ms. Schuman offers of the story of a life confronted by challenges; those large challenges involving World War II, as well as personal challenges, made by the main character. Bettina’s circumstances are often out of her control, but her early decision to follow her heart, her judgments and her eventual resolution are all understandable.

We, as readers, are drawn in and find ourselves sympathizing even with choices we might not have made ourselves. It is easy to share outrage, loss and conviction. She sees her world as if through the lens of a camera and more and more becomes clear. Love both captivates the main character and traps her.

The author writes her prose with immediacy; with an in-the-moment quality that is hard to describe. At the outset, I thought to find fault with it, but progressing, found myself drawn in, so the style disappeared and all that is left is story and the emotions.

Background details seem to emerge in almost poetic turns of phrase, for example: “…there’s an unruly rosebush twisting its way over the step…” and ” …memories live in each closet.”

The synopsis really does this book no service, leading me to expect a rather abrupt drama, rather than the thoughtful and heartfelt life’s journey This Terrible Beauty offers. Five solid stars and I highly recommend you add This Terrible Beauty to your “must read” list.

To Weave a Highland Tapestry by Mary Morgan

To Weave a Highland Tapestry by Mary Morgan
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal (time travel)
Length: Full Length (266 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Snapdragon

Patrick MacFhearguis, hardened by battles won and lost, desires what he can never have—peace within his heart and soul. Yet, the ever-meddling Fae weave a new journey for him to conquer—a task this highlander is determined to resist.

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A man conflicted by past deeds. A woman with no family of her own. Is it possible for love to unravel an ancient past, in order to claim two badly scarred hearts? Or will the light of hope be doused forever?

Readers who enjoy romance blended with a the combination of history and the mystical will be utterly enchanted by this clever ‘weaving’ of a tale. In To Weave a Highland Tapestry Mary Morgan offers us a wander through the past thanks to a bit of time-travel; which works in her quite contemporary main character surprisingly well.

Gwen, whose sense of history is apparent in her study and use of ancient weaving techniques, was attracted the the task of stitching the tapestry at the MacFhearguis’ castle. An act of kindness gives us a bit of insight into just who she is and, as the story goes forward, we cannot help but admire her curiosity, her strength and her determination. This one main character brings together many ‘threads’ of story, fom the curse knotted by the slighted Fae, so long ago, the struggles of clan MacFhearguis and, the one we are waiting for, Patrick. But how can a romance evolve from almost different worlds, at utterly different times?

From the outset, we readers wait for the moment that we do see coming; when Gwen must go back…but then, we are swept along into and unpredictable story that is more than romance. There was that ancient wrong–the Fae were indeed slighted–but can the two change what has been written into the lineage? Can they, together, weave a different future for what should be a magnificent castle, sitting now on utterly barren lands? Their challenges and their quest move this story right along.

More, the backdrop and sense of place is wonderful. Readers will feel as if they have traveled the highlands. This is however, very much a time travel paranormal story and I would only recommend it to readers who are already firmly fans of the genre.  Looking forward to the next by Mary Morgan. Do read!

The Duchess in His Bed by Lorraine Heath

The Duchess in His Bed by Lorraine Heath
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (320 pgs)
Heat: Hot
Rated: 4 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

For a duchess with practical desires, falling in love is an inconceivable part of her plan…

As owner of the Elysium Club which caters to women’s fantasies, Aiden Trewlove is accustomed to introducing adventurous ladies to sin and vice. But he is uncharacteristically intrigued by the mysterious beauty who visits his club one night, yearning to indulge in the forbidden—with him. Drawn to her indomitable spirit, he breaks his rule of never becoming personally involved with his clientele and is determined to fully awaken her desires.

A recent widow, Selena Sheffield, Duchess of Lushing, has never known passion, not until Aiden’s slow, sensual seduction leads her on a journey of discovery and incredible pleasure. But her reasons for visiting the notorious club are not all that they seem.
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As Selena’s motives become complicated by love, she finds herself with a most unexpected choice: forge ahead with a secret plan that could secure her future—or follow her heart which could prove ruinous.

Wow. This books kicks off in the most ugly way imaginable…far from what one imagines from the jacket; yet, it sets the scene for us to understand the duchess’ motivation.

The Duchess in His Bed seems like it should be a cheery and titillating story. After all, we’re given to understand that the most risque ‘ladies’ club and physical passion are absolutely central. And, though expectations are met in that regard, the real surprise is the Duchess herself. In fact, the depth and quality of all the characters keep this story riveting.

We meet Adien, as he meets the beautiful and previously, shall we say “undervalued”, Duchess of Lashing. Selena is not what she seems and she has some pretty specific goals, as well. Aiden thinks he knows those goals. He is confident in his assessment of women and what might bring them to his services. His surety is undoing.

Lena has a very specific desire but, almost immediately she discovers a conflict. And though she was prepared to pursue her own desires single-mindedly, suddenly, she trips over something like respect. Or is it more? The developing emotions stir the plot quite thoroughly!

Ms. Heath’s historical romance brings together incredibly realistic characters in an unusual and very unpredictable situation. We hardly know what to hope for, never mind expect, as the story charges forward.

Very worth reading; fun and intriguing.