Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Review: MEMORIES OF MURDER by Lara Nance

On her first day at a new job, Maeve sees a man plunge to his death. Sure, she could've saved him with her "witchy" powers, if she still had them. But ever since her attack, she's been without the powers but not quite powerless. Intrigue.

Could the patient's death have been murder?

This a compelling mystery surrounding a lost asylum graveyard and an angry spirit. A scintillating brew of murder, mayhem, history, and wiccan folklore. Wickedly good!

My rating: 4 stars

Review: LOOSE ENDS by Terri Reid

Dying is what changed Mary O’Reilly’s life. Well, actually, coming back from the dead and having the ability to communicate with ghosts is really what did it.

Now, a private investigator in rural Freeport, Illinois, Mary’s trying to learn how to incorporate her experience as a Chicago cop and new-found talent into a real job. Her challenge is to solve the mysteries, get real evidence (a ghost’s word just doesn’t hold up in court), and be sure the folks in town, especially the handsome new police chief, doesn’t think she’s nuts.

Twenty-four years ago, a young woman drowned in the swimming pool of a newly elected State Senator. It was ruled an accident. But now, as the Senator prepares to move on to higher positions, the ghost of the woman is appearing to the Senator’s wife.

My thoughts: The story had a slow start for me. It seemed like too much time was spent describing the small-town life--the picture-perfect scenes and the common people you see everyday. Okay, I get that life in Illinois was like living in a Norman Rockwell painting (Rockwell being one of my favorite illustrators,) but I wanted to get to the true grit of this ghost mystery.

Mary O'Reilly is an inquisitive, yet daffy, character. I didn't quite peg her to be the psychic type. A private investigator is supposed to have good research skills. Well, Mary had the research down. In fact, she over-researched, and research about politics and history doesn't make for interesting reading.

I intrigued by the concept of a woman dying and coming back to life with this inexplicable ability to communicate with the dead--very alluring! But I wasn't pleased with the execution. Overall, this story was a lifeless drawl of monotony.

My rating: 2 stars

Review: GHOST HAND by Ripley Patton

Seventeen-year-old Olivia Black has a rare birth defect known as Psyche Sans Soma, or PSS. Instead of a right hand made of flesh and blood, she was born with a hand made of ethereal energy.

How does Olivia handle being the girl with the ghost hand? Well, she's a little bit morbid and a whole lot snarky.
Her mother thinks her obsession with death, black clothing, and the local cemetery is a bid for attention. But when Marcus, the new guy in Olivia's calculus class, stares at her like she's a freak, Olivia doesn't like it. And when her hand goes rogue, doing things she never imagined possible, Olivia finds herself running for her life with Marcus from a group of men bent on taking the power of her hand for their own nefarious purposes.

My thoughts: Olivia has PSS (Psyche Sans Soma) A.K.A. a “ghost hand.” Lately, it’s been acting weird. Was she some kind of Grim Reaper that with one touch of her rubber-band hand, she can either predict or cause death?

A military group wants her hand. For what?

The pace was slow and grueling, and the chase was subdued. It was cool how the ghost hand could unlock a gate and be a nightlight, but the story wasn’t strong enough to hold my interest. It was your typical government conspiracy militant co-op story.

My rating: 2 stars

Review: FLIRTING WITH MAGICK by Leigh Bennett

There’s nothing like a love spell to get Abby Williams out of her rut and over her ex, but when a gorgeous rocker, a cute colleague, and an apologetic ex–boyfriend come knocking Abby wonders if maybe the spell worked a little too well. If she even believes in that stuff. As emotions run high, secrets are exposed, and feelings change, Abby wonders if flirting with magick is more trouble than it’s worth. But the real question is, do any of these men deserve her heart? Flirting With Magick is a contemporary romance that proves you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.

My thoughts: Abby is a loony, neurotic  character. She buys a book of spells and starts playing around with “magic” (Of course, she’s not a real witch.) Naturally, she tries a love spell. She’s just messing with this stuff and has no idea what she’s doing. To her, it’s just harmless fun.

Filled with tawdry humor and a flaccid plot, this story is okay if you’re into all that frilly, fruity Wicca stuff. The stuff concerning the band was kind of boring and there were too many characters. Personally, I wouldn’t have fallen for Scotty’s Goth look.

Overall, this was a flagrant attempt to mimic the tone of Bridget Jone’s Diary, and it failed.

My rating: 2 stars

Review: PHANTOM SUMMER by Amy Sparling

Taylor is a morose and despondent girl. Her friend Brendan recently died. Was it her fault?

A summer away at her mom's dilapidated place at the beach may just be the thing to help Taylor forget about Brendan--at least, that's her hope. The memories haunt her to this day, yet she shoves them down her throat, drowning them in succulent poison. She doesn't believe in anything and doesn't want to care about anything.

Story was very slow. All Taylor does is walk around this boring town like a sad, cynical drone. What's even more annoying is that she's stuck with people that believe in ghosts. Boy, people really do believe in anything (Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, God, etc.)

I did wonder what happened to Brendan. There was definitely a story there, but Taylor just pitter-patters about it, revealing insignificant snippets here and there. She never really divulges the whole truth. And what was the deal with Raine? It was creepy how he kept appearing out of nowhere. Why did he want to scare her? Why did he want her to believe in ghosts? It seemed that the whole goal of the story was to believe in what you can't see or whatever.

Ensconced in the lame history of a boring town, Taylor becomes Raine's assistant in his ghost tour business. And they spend all summer giving ghost tours to visitors, engaging and entertaining audiences.  

I tried to give this story a chance because it sounded like an interesting story with ghosts and mystery and all, but it just didn't work out that way. I just didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would.  

My rating: 2.5 stars

Review: SLIDE by Jill Hathaway

Sylvia, A.K.A. “Vee,” has a strange ability—she can get inside people’s heads, seeing through their eyes, with a mere touch of an object. She calls it “sliding.” Cool!

With pink hair and a sleeping disorder, Vee is not your typical high school student. Things get interesting when she suddenly slides into what looks like a murder. But who did it and how will she find out before he strikes again?

I admit that the first time she slid, it was confusing, but, fortunately, you get the hang of it and don’t lose sight of the story.

Simple and mediocre, but yet compelling. You just have to know who the killer is.

My rating: 3.5 stars

Review: DYING TO FORGET by Trish Marie Dawson

One horrible car crash changed Piper’s life forever.

With the death of her best friend, Piper battles the guilt that strangles her, the hold weighing heavily on her, tightening its grip, and stealing her gasping breaths….gone.

Up until this point, the story had a somber, unyielding tone; but as soon as Piper gets to “the Station,” the tone becomes a little lighter. The fact that she needed to be processed with paper work and orientation meetings was ridiculous. And to be a volunteer, a voice in somebody else’s subconscious? And not just anybody, somebody that’s thinking of suicide because that is what landed Piper at the Station. So Piper becomes a Jiminy Cricket. Interesting.

Just like at the DMV, it takes a while for testing, processing, and all that fun stuff, before you can get behind the wheel; that’s how long it seems to take for Piper to get a case.

The plot was subtle and slow, quickening slightly once Piper gets into someone’s head. From there, she unleashes wry, humorous quips as she embraces her “conscious” role with criticism and bossiness (let’s face, there’s not much else she can do in there.) A nice twist was seeing and feeling everything as a boy (e.i. the attraction to a beautiful girl, etc.) Yeck! To be stuck in the head of a boy!

Of course, Piper’s got her work cut out of her because this boy’s got serious problems. She’ll have to shout to the top of her whiny, nagging girl voice to reach him.

I was curious to see if Piper would save the guy, but before we get to find out, she gets a new case, the new case being much tougher than the first, of course. And wash, rinse, repeat.

The bulk of the story is mainly Piper’s job as a Volunteer and her time at the Station. Some of the details were mundane, but you applaud her efforts and the bonds she forms with her cases.

An okay read.

My rating: 3 stars