Happy Tuesday, and welcome to the first Tuesday of June. Although the weather is still in the “iffy” category, I’m thrilled that hubby and I have finally been able to open our pool. I haven’t ventured into the water yet, but I’m counting on warmer days where I can enjoy sunshine, a relaxing raft, and good reading. With that in mind, here are a few books that snagged my interest over the last two months.
by Jan Sikes
Although this is a short read, it’s packed with a strong message about overcoming obstacles, seeing oneself as you truly are, and accepting change. Jonah, a prisoner, is banished to inhospitable island. He’s angry, bitter, and miserable. Over time, he meets a young boy named Titus and begins to receive mysterious “gifts” that make his hardscrabble life easier. But along with gifts of food, he receives a book about self-change and a blank journal. It’s up to Jonah to write his own story, a new one—but can he change? Can he put the past behind him?
I liked the way his relationship with Titus grew, while at the same time Jonah embraced change, sometimes without even realizing it. When he makes a thoroughly unselfish decision, the payoff is unexpected. I loved the author’s use of magic and family. Also of note were excellent descriptions that brought the harsh dangers of the island to life.
Genre: 90 Minute Short Reads > Fantasy and Science-Fiction Short Reads
By K. L. Slater
Freya and her young daughter, Skye, are in dire straits and need an affordable place to live. When she encounters Dr. Marsden at a coffee shop, he mentions a vacant apartment he is leasing in an upscale property called Adder House. The rent is unbelievably affordable, and Freya believes her prayers have been answered.
But once she and Skye move in, she finds herself subjected to odd noises, even odors. Items are moved about in the apartment, and Dr. Marsden seems obsessed with security—to the point of wanting to install security cameras in her unit. The other tenants, though few, are odd, even disturbing. And though Dr. Marsden insists Freya is the first to occupy her unit, she learns of a woman who lived there previously and committed suicide.
This book is spooky and suspenseful. There is nothing supernatural, but the steady infusion of creepiness inspires chills. With each chapter the tension rachets higher as Freya discovers more and more about the building and the woman who lived there previously. There are also scenes devoted to a wet nurse and her young son who were involved in medical experiment in the 1930s, which factor into the story. It’s all very bizarre and unsettling, and the author does an excellent job of creating a sinister aura, especially as related to Adder House and its inhabitants. This is my first book by Slater, but I will definitely seek out other titles. I found this story riveting.
Genre: Psychological Fiction > Psychological Thrillers
A Forgotten Murder
By Jude Deveraux
This was an entertaining murder mystery, the third book in a series. I haven’t read the first two, but had no problem picking up with the three main characters—Sara, her niece Kate, and Kate’s quasi-boyfriend, Jack (who is like an adopted grandson to Sara). Sara is a mystery novelist who books a stay at an English manor home which is currently being restored. Years ago, two people disappeared from the property and were never seen again. Both were part of a group of friends who were regular visitors to the house.
In an effort to discover what happened that night, Sara invites the remaining members of the group for a reunion weekend, then devises a play—yes, a play—about what took place. The characters are interesting and there are enough suspects with varying motives to keep the reader guessing. The setting of the old manor home is used to good effect, especially the grounds behind it. The three main characters have an easy chemistry that is enjoyable, and the many plot threads tie together nicely. A little slow in some spots for me, but still a well-told mystery.
Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries > Women’s Detective Fiction