“Submerged” by Dani Pettrey

Perhaps it’s a mistake to read reviews (especially critical reviews) before reading a book. I read a few reviews of Submerged, and my memory of one of them amounts to: 1) there is no coral in Alaskan waters, and 2) the female protagonist, in clinging to her past unworthiness, was making a mountain out of a molehill.

A sabotaged plane. Two dead deep-water divers.

Yancey, Alaska was a quiet town…until the truth of what was hidden in the depths off the coast began to appear.

Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey again. She has a past, and a reputation–and Yancey’s a small town. She’s returned to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash and is determined not to stay even an hour more than necessary. But then dark evidence emerges and Bailey’s own expertise becomes invaluable for the case.

Cole McKenna can handle the deep-sea dives and helping the police recover evidence. He can even handle the fact that a murderer has settled in his town and doesn’t appear to be moving on. But dealing with the reality of Bailey’s reappearance is a tougher challenge. She broke his heart, but she is not the same girl who left Yancey. He let her down, but he’s not the same guy she left behind. Can they move beyond the hurts of their pasts and find a future together?

My responses: 1) the Wikipedia page was inconclusive, and 2) yes, she totally is. Continue reading

“Eugenics and Other Evils”

 G.K. Chesterton was a prolific writer and giant of religious thought around the turn of the 20th century, and his works on theology and philosophy, while from a Catholic perspective, continue to ring true today – even for us Evangelicals.

While I have primarily read his fiction (the semi-fantastical The Man Who Was Thursday; the thought-provoking Father Brown series), I found Eugenics and Other Evils full of his characteristically fanciful turns of phrase and complex, allegorical illustrations. While I didn’t always follow his argument (and while I didn’t always agree with it when I did), his unique perspective (observing the Eugenics movement when it was in an earlier and more intellectual stage of its life-cycle) is worth reading.

As he says, “Eugenics itself is a thing no more to be bargained about than poisoning.” Continue reading

“Hazardous Duty” by Christy Barritt

A Cautionary Tale for Writers

 Surfing Amazon one day for “Christian mystery” (or some similar keyword) I came across this book about a crime scene cleaner who finds evidence that the police missed – and it was free! I downloaded it, eager to start reading, and went to load it onto my e-reading device.

BLAM!

File is locked with DRM (digital rights management), meaning I couldn’t read it on my Nook (it’s a Kindle/.mobi file), nor on my dad’s Kindle (device registered to him, book registered to me).

Almost a year later, I did finally get to start reading (because AT&T got me a smartphone, long story short)…but needless to say it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Gabby St. Claire is a professional crime scene cleaner, and an interesting enough character. The perky go-getter type, with an interest in chemistry and forensics, she uncovers evidence in one of the houses she’s cleaning that seems to shed light on a murder investigation.

She then immediately jumps to a conclusion, and pursues that conclusion through the rest of the book. Most sleuths pursue a mystery: she pursued her conclusion…and guys. Continue reading

“Not By Sight” by Kate Breslin

Not-By-Sight Cover Wealthy young suffragette Grace Mabry is determined to do her part for Great Britain, not only to help her nation win World War I, but also to end the fighting so her twin brother can return from the front lines.

To this end, she slips into a prestigious costume ball and hands a white feather of cowardice to Jack Benningham – well-known conscientious objector and profligate nobleman.

Unknown to her (and his family), Jack is secretly a spy-catcher for the British government, using his reputation as a devil-may-care pleasure-seeker to root out traitors to his country.

This gripping premise unwound into a TOTALLY different book than I was expecting. But once I got over my initial shock, I reconciled myself to this story as worth reading. Continue reading

“The Mysterious Affair at Styles”

 The very first of Agatha Christie’s detective stories, Mysterious Affair at Styles was a breath of fresh air – air scented with ancient country mansions, rich but foolish old ladies, a rogues gallery of extended family, poison, wills, minute yet vital clues, and, of course, an intelligent detective to bring it all together. Continue reading

“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

 It might seem that to pen a review of literary titaness Jane Austen’s best-known (and possibly best-loved) novel would be presumptuous.

Nevertheless, I shall proceed to gild the lily and explain why, when I finally crossed its threshold several years ago, I found it worthy of every adulation ever laid at its door. Continue reading

“She But Sleepeth” by Rachel Heffington

Peles Castle, Romania — courtesy of Gabi Jguma/Wikipedia

Sleeping Beauty is a set designer working for Hollywood. A Romanian gypsy casts spells of time-travel and death. An estranged royal couple mourn the loss of their only child. And the hunky love interest exhibits self-sacrificial love.

Yet, for whatever confluence of cosmic misdemeanors, all the raging richness of this story potential totally fizzled when it hit the dour surface of my consciousness. Continue reading

“Death Be Not Proud” by Suzannah Rowntree

 Ruby Black is a cabaret singer with a lifestyle of cigarettes, hard applejack, and jazz, who pinches pennies from her day job as maid while dreaming of the big time in the opera.

When she’s confronted with a two-year old murder mystery in the person of the victim’s determined fiancé, she gets involved in the dark tale against her better judgement.

This fairytale retelling is perfect for mystery lovers, as chilling suspense combines with a rich writing style. Continue reading

“Superheroes Aliens Robots Zombies” by Mark Boss

Junk Food for Zombie Lovers

SARZ-51kVl+YZFoL This book is like mind candy for the science fiction apocalypse lover. Zombies – quick, coordinated, and flesh-eating – mixed with aliens – small, big-eyed and green – and robots for a wild, active romp thru cliché and disaster-tales.

If only the violence weren’t so medically accurate…and if only the author had learned that “series” is not code for “serial”. Continue reading