I’m back with part two of my reviews for books I read in March. If you missed part one, you can find it here. To read the blurbs and learn about each title below, click the Amazon link after my review. I hope you discover something to add to your TBR!
By Sonja Yoerg
Iris grew up sheltered from modern society, living in a cabin in the woods with her parents and brother. When circumstances force her into the world, she stumbles into the life of Suzanne Blakemore and her family. Suzanne lives a picture-perfect life in a pristine house with a successful husband, a teenage daughter and college-age son. She spends her life running from one errand to the next, making certain everyone is taken care of, never slowing down to truly see or feel. And that’s what this book is about—becoming blind to routines and existing on surface emotions. For looking deeper would expose cracks in the foundation of a life and family existing on artifical gloss.
When Suzanne brings Iris into her home, the fragile balance the Blakemores have maintained is shattered. Iris, naïve and confounded by the world, struggles to fit in. Suzanne’s teenage daughter Brynn grow fangs the moment Iris is in the door, but the up-and-down, give-and-take between the two girls plays well throughout the book. There were times I despised Brynn, other times I felt sorry for her. The author handles teenage mistakes and angst well. But Brynn, Iris, and Suzanne’s son, Reid, aren’t the only ones who foul up. When Suzanne’s husband Walt chooses to overlook something of importance, that decision has far flung consequences for everyone in the book.
A little slow getting started, True Places really takes off around the 50% mark. The descriptions of the mountains and woods—down to the sights, sounds and smells—are captivating. There is a hint of When the Crawdads Sing in this book, and like Crawdads, the exquisitely detailed settings evoke such a strong sense of place, it’s easy to imagine yourself in Iris’s rustic cabin or slipping through dusky woods when the wind chases whispers through the trees. A beautiful read!
Genre: Literary Fiction > Women’s Fiction
Muddy River One: Black Magic Can Backfire
By Judi Lynn
This book has a vividly imagined premise. A small town (Muddy River) populated by supernatural citizens—witches, vampires, shifters, fae—is rocked when a new coven of witches are found dead and murder is suspected. Hester Wand, a powerful witch with a coven of her own, and Raven Black, a fire demon who is also the town’s “enforcer” team up to find the killer. As a fire demon, Raven is not someone to cross, and Hester is every bit as powerful. Even so, unmasking the killer is not an easy task.
The head of the new coven was not well liked, making suspects and motives plentiful. There are feuding families, powerful families, buried prejudices, and simmering animosities. Hester and Raven question a multitude of suspects, a thread that adds an intriguing investigative vibe to the book. I kept trying to figure out who was responsible but the revelation came as a surprise. There is a romantic thread but it meshes well with the story and the romance is not drawn out which I liked. In closing, special mention has to go to Claws, Hester’s ocelot familiar. Not only does he have an awesome name, he gets into the action, too. As this is the first book in a new series, Muddy River is a town I look forward to visiting again.
Genre: Mystery Romance > Urban Fantasy > Supernatural
Murder in Plane Sight
By Julie Holmes
In this strong debut novel, Julie Holmes introduces us to Sierra Bauer, an airline mechanic who uncovers the body of the woman she blames for her brother’s death. The author is clearly knowledgeable of the airline industry, and also knows how to twist a good mystery into an intricately-layered plot.
There are multiple characters, multiple motives, a shady stalker, and a dedicated cop who finds himself falling for Sierra while protecting her. Both Quinn and Sierra are excellent characters and their romance serves to further enhance the mystery.
Sierra is particularly strong, having to overcome obstacles in a field dominated by men. She is focused and determined, but she also harbors shadows in her past, that resurface to haunt her. Holmes does a fabulous job of tying up all the loose ends when the conclusion rolls around, while weaving in several surprises along the way. An excellent start to a new series.
Genre: Amateur sleuths > cozy mystery
Just Her Poetry Seasons of a Soul
By D. L. Finn
This is a beautiful collection of poetry with vivid glimpses into the natural world and the many myriad nuances of emotion. The reader is even treated to “musings from the back of a Harley” as the author shares visions penned while riding with her husband on their bike. I was especially enthralled by the nature poetry which is broken into sections for Spring and Summer as well as Fall and Winter.
Sights, sounds and senses come alive in poems like A Day at the River, Thunk, Crisp, and Spring Gone. As a cat lover I also really enjoyed The Huntress which was rendered in such attention to detail it was equivalent to viewing a live-action video. The prose is beautiful and vivid. Some of my favorite lines include:
From Spring Day
The gentle tapping of the woodpecker
Reminding me of a blessing in Morse code.
It is a time of in-between.
Between the sun baking the earth
Or the forest being covered in ice.
From The October Sun
The October sun bleeds through the trees
Clotting up before it reaches me.
There are so many gems in this book, you’re certain to find your own favorites. Escape to a peaceful setting, and let this exquisite collection of poetry soothe your soul.
Genre: Poetry > Nature Poetry > Contemporary Poetry
The Girls on the Hill
By Alison Clair Grey
I was so excited to get this book after reading the author’s first release, Can’t Let Go. Girls on the Hill was every bit as engrossing.
It’s reunion time for several college friends, but not everyone is looking forward to the event. Especially given the reunion is being held at a hotel where one classmate died on graduation night, plunging to her death from an upper balcony. What took place on that balcony and what led to the tragedy is the basis for this gripping mystery which incorporates plenty of twists and shocks along the way.
As usual, Grey does an excellent job of tapping into human emotions, examining the best and worst in people. There is a strong focus on friendships–both good and bad–and what some are willing to do to succeed regardless of who they hurt. As a reader Grey made me feel anger and frustration but also grudging sympathy for one of the key players. There is a diverse cast of characters and they all shine in their own way, but the standouts for me were Amanda and Hollis.
The writing is slick, and the chapters short, switching between POV characters, which makes this an easy read. The POV is done in first person which occasionally made me stop and flip back to the chapter title to see whose head I was in, but I didn’t find that overly distracting. Most definitely a hard to put down book! I’m already looking forward to Grey’s next release. She’s now on my auto-buy list.
Genre: Psychological Fiction > Psychological Thriller
Thanks for checking out the reviews. March was another great reading month for me (probably because I was working on edits and not doing as much writing). I wish you all Happy Reading!