Review: The super spies and the cat lady killer by Lisa Orchard

The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer by Lisa Orchard

Title: The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer

Author: Lisa Orchard

Publisher: Astraea Press

Details: released March 12, 2012, 175 pages, $2.99 (ebook)

Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Astraea Press

Summary: Sarah Cole and her sister are visiting their uncle and aunt in a small town for the summer.  Sarah meets a skinny girl named Jackie right away, and they get along famously.  In the midst of getting to know each other they stumble on the body of the local old lady recluse who has been murdered.  The rest of the book unfolds with interesting twists and a second mystery is uncovered by the girls.

Review: These characters were likable, and the villain totally scary. It started a little slowly, but the plot developed nicely and ended up having several loose ends tied up neatly.

Recommendation: This is a good book for a middle school readership.  I liked it, and would read more by Lisa Orchard. I give it four quills.Four Quills

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Review: The Missing: Book 1 – Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Found

Title: The Missing: Book 1 * Found

Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix

Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks, Simon & Schuster

Format: paperback ($6.99)

Length: 314 pages

Release Date: April 21, 2009 (reprint edition)

Genre: Middle Grades – science fiction

Available at: Book stores everywhere

Summary: Who are Jonah and Chip anyway? Even they don’t know. When cryptic messages start showing up in their mailboxes, they suspect they may be in danger. The two boys, along with Jonah’s adoptive sister, Katherine have a mystery to solve: the letters, the trip to the FBI office, strange people appearing and disappearing at will…what is going on?

Review: Talk about leaving you in a position where you HAVE to read the next book in the series. You are thrown right into the mystery at the very beginning and the suspense builds seamlessly to the end. But it’s not the end. It’s only the beginning.

Recommendation: Great read for those interested in science fiction and time travel. Geared towards young adult, but intriguing for any age. Four quills:

four quills

Guess I’m gonna have to pick up Book Two!

Review: Aegean Intrigue by Patricia Kiyono

Aegean Intrigue by Patricia Kiyono

Title: Aegean Intrigue

Author: Patricia Kiyono

Publisher: Astraea Press

Format: E-book ($1.99)

Pages: ? (Short story/Novella)

Release Date: February 1, 2012

Genre: Romance – Mystery

Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Astraea Press, Smashwords

Summary: Francie Vasileiou is a graduate student working on her PhD in archaeology in beautiful, culture-rich Greece. Raised by a famous archaeologist father and a famous actress mother, her life was anything but average. In spite of her mother’s plans for her future, she chose a life as an archaeologist– her true passion. Unfortunately, on every dig she is involved with, priceless artifacts have disappeared without explanation, leaving a dark cloud of suspicion on her integrity.

Enter Alex Leonidis, a tall handsome private investigator, hired by a wealthy man with interests in the latest dig site. His objective: to observe Francie closely in order to prove her involvement in the missing artifacts. His plan: to go undercover as a Project Director of the dig site. Alex observed her closely all right — drawn inexplicably to her beauty, her passion and her work ethic. He has a difficult time keeping his mind on his primary objective.

But artifacts are still disappearing. Is Francie the culprit? Or is it one of the other crew members — the old, absent-minded professor, the seemingly inept newbie who is always checking his phone, the crew cook? And what will happen when she finds out he’s been lying to her about who he really is?

Review: This story is one of those whose plot is so engaging you are drawn immediately in. It’s difficult not to want more when it’s so good but it ends so soon. As a short story, it can’t be judged by the same criteria as a full-length novel (though a longer format would have given the room to flesh out all the details of this amazing story).

I would have liked to see more development in the relationship between the two main characters, as most of it is brought about through the internal dialogue of the respective character and not as much through their interaction with one another. But overall, a very enjoyable read. As it is, there is romance, mystery, twists and turns, betrayal, reconciliation, and much more. It’s incredible how the author can pack so much into this story.

Recommendation: This a great book for an afternoon or evening read. You can read it in one sitting, and it keeps you intrigued from start to finish. I give Aegean Intrigue four quills.

four quills

I have The Legacy waiting on my Kindle to read. And I also recommend The Christmas Phoenix — a great Christmas novella.

Review: The Hidden Heiress by Juliet Moore

The Hidden Heiress

Title: The Hidden Heiress

Author: Juliet Moore

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services?

Format: Kindle ($.99 on Amazon)

Pages: ? (It says 70,000 words, but it is actually a lot shorter – novella length)

Release Date: October/November 2011

Genre: Romance – Victorian/Historical

Available at: Amazon

Summary: When Isabel Darton finds herself on the business end of a murder plot, she goes into hiding as a governess for a wealthy family in London until she can determine who is trying to assassinate her.

Her new employers have a difficult daughter who has run off all the previous governesses. As a servant of the family, Isabel soon finds that a life of servitude isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Her employers see only her lower station, even though they are forced to include her in some of their social events to avoid unlucky numbers.

Marshall Templeton is a second son, the brother of Isabel’s employer, with a promising political career. As a member of Parliament, his interest in a governess as anything other than a passing fancy is frowned upon in his social circles. The problem is Marshall just can’t get Isabel out of his mind.

Review: I enjoyed this book, though I did like Punish Me with Roses better. The characters were well-developed  and there was a very intriguing conflict. I would have liked to see more of the mystery-solving in this one. Isabel does do a little digging, but for the most part she waited for the answers to fall into her lap. Though to be fair, she did have her hands full with the troubled girl as well as two men who couldn’t seem to take no for an answer.

Recommendation: I like Juliet Moore’s story lines. She does a good job drawing the reader into her character’s lives. This wasn’t my favorite of the two books I’ve read, but I do think it’s worth recommending to others. It gets your heart racing in several places. And there are parts you’ll want to re-read. The love story was complete, but there were a few holes in the mystery. For this reason, I give three quills to The Hidden Heiress:

Three Quills

Review: Shadows on the Sand

Title: Shadows on the Sand

Author: Gayle Roper

Publisher: Multnomah Books

Format: E-book (also available in paperback)

Pages: 322

Release Date: July 19, 2011

Genre: Christian Romance/ Christian Suspense

Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Waterbrook Multnomah, Christian Books Distributor

Summary:  Carrie Carter and her sister Lindsay run a small cafe in Seaside, a resort town on an island off the New Jersey coast. Things are just starting to wind down after the busy summer — the vacationing crowds are dissipating and the cafe is settling back into the company of their year-round regulars.

One of those regulars, Greg Barnes, makes Carrie’s heart do a happy dance every time he comes in. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to know she exists other than to serve his usual bacon and eggs in the morning (and he doesn’t even like eggs). That is until he starts to realize he has noticed her more than he planned.

When the body of Carrie’s murdered dishwasher turns up and her young waitress disappears, the peace of Seaside is turned upside-down. It seems everybody is hiding something, some secret demons from the past. While Greg’s demons threaten to destroy their new-found love, Carrie’s past comes back to haunt her as well, throwing her faith and life as she knows it into turmoil.

Review: Shadows on the Sand is a well-written mystery with lots of moving parts. The visual description of the setting paints the scene for the reader. The characters are well-developed, though sometimes their reactions to the circumstances are a little less intense than it seems would suit the situation. The story deals with several different human issues: murder, grief, abuse, faith, deception, guilt, anger, forgiveness, loss and love. The author brings all these strands of the story together at the end into a clear resolution without any loose ends, weaving in the tenants of faith and incorporating the theme of “for everything there is a season” from Ecclesiastes.

With that being said, I will add I could have lived without the Twitter sequences. They were inextricably entwined with the plot but felt awkward and a bit contrived to me — though they did make for great comic relief in the more intense moments. And they were the path through which rescue came several times, so I can’t say they are without merit.

As far as the climax of the story, I was white-knuckling the Kindle for a few minutes, but given the seriousness of the scene, the intensity could possibly have been knocked up a notch or two. Overall though, a satisfying ending.

Recommendation: I had a difficult time putting this one down. The suspense, the mystery and the love story came together to create a good reading experience. Readers who enjoy good mysteries will not be disappointed. For Shadows on the Sand by Gayle Roper I offer four quills:

Four Quills

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. You can buy the book or read a sample here.