November Book Reviews, Part II

A short break from muse reblogs to share a bunch of reviews. My 60-book Autumn Reading Challenge is looking grim, but I’m still going for it. I have 3 weeks to read 20 books!

November’s Part II book reviews include my 4 and 5 star reads of fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal fiction, historical fiction, a short story, poetry, and a few suspense-thrillers! I hope you enjoy the browse.

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.

*****

Someone Close to Home by Alex Craigie

I read on the treadmill, and this page-turner made me exercise three times my usual minutes! I think I burned off an entire chocolate cake in calories. I couldn’t put it down (the book, not the cake).

Megan was a successful concert pianist with a bright future. But her career and happiness are a part of her past at the opening of the book. Megan lives in a neglectful nursing home, unable to speak or control her body, and someone in the home is determined to torment her.

The story covers a time period of about a month or so. The progression of Megan’s life, starting at age 9, weaves through her memories, and eventually the timelines intersect. Both timelines are gripping. Megan’s inability to protect herself is heart-wrenching and infuriating. Craigie did a great job of stringing me along as Megan navigates the danger and vulnerability in her life.

Megan is a great character and the most three dimensional and relatable of the cast. I empathized with her immediately, understood her choices (even the horrible ones), and was in her corner for the duration. The pace is speedy, the setting bleak. A great choice for readers who love a gripping thriller.

*****

Harbinger by Marcia Meara

I loved the book A Boy Named Rabbit and couldn’t wait to read Rabbit’s next adventure. Once again, this little 11-year-old kid stole my heart. Rabbit and his dad, Mac, are enlisted by the local sheriff to see if they can use Rabbit’s “sight” to figure out what happened to a little girl who disappeared twenty years ago.

The book is a paranormal mystery and thriller as well as a beautiful story about goodness and love. I enjoyed watching Rabbit and his new family interact. They’re kind and thoughtful and it warmed my heart. I also enjoyed the tension and disturbing actions of Cadey, the bad guy, who slowly loses touch with reality as the story progresses.

The plot is well constructed, with the pov alternating between Mac/Sarah and Cadey. There’s no mystery as to who the bad guy is, but there’s a great deal of tension as their paths draw closer to each other. The characters are well-done, realistic and with full emotional lives. The ending of the trilogy gives a sneak peek into Rabbit’s future, which I thoroughly appreciated. I could happily read more books about Rabbit, but this one ends on a high note and I appreciated that.

Highly recommended to readers who enjoy great characters and well-told stories.

*****

The Pellucid Witch by G. Owen Wears

If you like alien world-building, this book is the tops. It’s very cool; the world is bizarre, the characters are bizarre, the plants and animals are bizarre. I loved the author’s imagination. Kryl is a human-ish man with a fungal exoskeleton that is both a symbiote and a parasite. It’s protective of Kryl while it also feeds on him. When it’s turned on his enemies, it’s downright ravenous. Did I mention the world-building?

The plot isn’t as fascinating as the world-building but both are thoroughly entwined. It takes about ½ of the book to set the story up. Then in the second half, the conflict take off. The tale is told in the 3rd person from Kryl’s POV. He’s a relatable character, nothing special while being very special. He’s a brutal killer but also holds tight to a sense of fairness.

There is blood and guts a plenty in this read, but not gratuitous gore. Kryl, his exoskeleton, and the Pellucid Witch are characters who survive on violence. This isn’t a long book and I read it in a day without a problem. I highly recommend it to sci-fi fans who want to dive into some awesome world-building.

*****

The Nine by D. L. Cross

The third book in the Astral Conspiracy Series starts off in the thick of the action. There’s little backstory, so it took a while for me to get my bearings with the complex plot and large cast of characters. Thank goodness the series was released together and can be read in one long binge.

There are a lot of factions at play – more than one of them nefarious and more than one of them trying to do the right thing. They take off in different directions so there are several stories to keep track of at once. And none of the characters are particularly gentle people. With the fate of the Earth in play, almost to a person, the good guys are tough and the bad guys are tougher. Landon continues to be the most relatable, though I have to say I enjoyed Beck’s predicament (and humor) the most.

And then there are the Aliens. The world-building continues to impress, and little by little Cross reveals the aliens’ abilities and the power of the Atlantean artifacts, as well as who The Nine are. As in the previous books, the research into alien/Atlantean theory is fascinating and adds authenticity to this sci-fi adventure. This is a dense read that required me to pay attention. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy hard sci-fi, aliens, complex plots, great world building, and lots of suspense.

*****

Contract by John Howell and Gwen Plano

Pete and Teresa are sent from heaven to assume the bodies of Brad Channing and Sarah O’Brien, two strangers who recently died. Their mission is to prevent a political cataclysm that could destroy the world.

The first third of the book relates Brad’s and Sarah’s individual stories as they are given second chances at life and eventually find each other. It switches to solid romance until the midpoint when the action and thrills take off. Brad (an ex-Navy Seal) takes over as the book’s hero as Sarah fades to the background. I wondered why the authors chose to start the book in heaven, but it does make for a cool ending.

There are some red herrings and twists, and it isn’t clear who the bad guys are until the end. The plot doesn’t answer all the questions raised by the story, and I questioned the bad guys’ motivations and choices here and there, but I also read the book in a day, so it clearly held my attention. An entertaining book for readers who enjoy a bit of romance and a lot of action.

*****

Virtually Gone by Jacquie Biggar

A serial rapist and killer is on the loose, and a DNA match links the killer to the murder of Detective Matthew Roy’s sister a decade ago. The story tracks the police investigation, led by Matt and his partner Connor. Conner’s girlfriend, Julia, a head-strong journalist, is also on the killer’s trail.

This book is part of a multi-author series that focuses on the same group of characters and features a different character per book. I read this story out of order, and once I got to know the characters, it worked fine as a stand-alone, tying up with a satisfying conclusion.

As main characters, I found Matt and Julia believable. The secondary characters were equally three dimensional with rich backstories. The reality and details of the investigation seemed plausible including the high-tech aspects that serve as a connecting theme of the series. There are red herrings aplenty, and the clues add up logically. Not a long read, I read this book in a day. Recommended to readers who enjoy police investigations and suspenseful murder mysteries.

*****

Elizabeth’s War by D. L. Finn

When WWI breaks out in Europe, brothers, sons, and fathers leave their livelihoods and families in the US to fight overseas. This story is told from the point of view of Elizabeth, an eleven-year-old girl whose life changes dramatically. At home on the farm, she begins her own version of “fighting the war” with new responsibilities and challenges – increased chores, learning new skills, nursing sick family members, worrying that Christmas may come without gifts, and more (no spoilers!). It clearly demonstrates the quiet strength of women and the valuable role they played while the men were away.

The young perspective and gentle kindness reminded me a lot of Laura Ingalls stories. I think this book is perfect for middle-grade readers and young teens, but can be enjoyed by adults too (like me). In the Afterword, the author writes about how the story is based on her own family’s experiences, and the details of the time-period seem well-researched. A lovely story.

*****

Reckoning Tide by Anneli Purchase

This book picks up right at the end of The Wind Weeps, which should be read first. Andrea’s reprieve and escape from her abusive husband, Robert, is brief, and he’s out to get her. What ensues is a stalking nightmare as Andrea and her lover, Jim, flee Robert through the windswept coastal channels and islands of the Canadian Pacific.

The action starts immediately and continues right to the end with several breaks for sexy romance. As in the first book, the authors knowledge of the area and the life of a fisherman add a lot of authenticity to the setting and action.

Purchase does a good job of showing the lingering complexities around domestic violence, how women aren’t believed, and how hard it is for them to be safe from their abusers. Even Jim is a bit of a jerk for a while. But Robert escalates rapidly and the need to escape him becomes critical to the couple’s survival. I liked Andrea’s arc from dependence on a man in book one to a strong woman who sticks up for herself and is determined to take charge of her life. A fast-paced series for romance and suspense readers.

*****

Conscience by Jonathan Pongratz

In this science fiction short story, Epher, the leader of the Free Thinkers is dead. The Corporation has the rebel’s body in their lab, and Rory Bennel’s job is to conduct a cerebral upload of Epher’s mind into data storage. When things go wrong, Rory makes a frantic adjustment, and the next thing he knows, he’s on the run.

This is an entertaining story of a brutal governing corporation, the manipulation of the masses, and the power of one person to make a difference. The story moves at a quick pace with a cohesive plot and empathetic characters. Recommended to readers of sci-fi short stories.

*****

Crimson Skins by Devika Mathur

I’m a fan of freeform poetry that’s thick with imagery, that explores the language of the senses and seeks out beautiful words. Mathur’s poetry does all that. Overall, the tone of the collection struck me as melancholy, full of pain and longing. There’s little romance, though the poems are often sensuous. The book is structured as a journey, starting with Isolation and moving through sections titled Detachment, Delirium, and Attachment, and into Revival (where the poems have a stronger, more self-assured theme).

The imagery often has a dreamlike quality, and I found myself reading aloud to “hear” the language and let the meaning and emotion behind the words find a place to settle. Some of my favorite poems were: Pointless, Sentiments like Silk, Madness, and the Art of Embalming. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy freeform poems, beautiful language, and a reflective journey.

*****

Picky Eaters 1 by S. J. Higbee

An elderly dragon named Castellan has to move in with his daughter and her family, which puts an end to his quiet life. His precocious granddaughter, Sammy-Jo, is full of energy and adventure and practically forces Castellan into resurrecting his time-traveling skills. His talent doesn’t go over well with the other dragons or the dwarves.

This story made me laugh a few times, particularly because humans are referred to as “food” and knights in armor are “canned food.” The dwarves fare about as well as their human cousins in terms of ending up crispy and delicious. This novelette moves quickly. A plot-based story, it didn’t steal my heart, but readers who like some time-traveling twists may enjoy this short tale.

*****

Happy Reading!

110 thoughts on “November Book Reviews, Part II

  1. […] November Book Reviews, Part II […]

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  2. Thankyou so much! I am so grateful for this review. All the books look lovely!:)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. markbierman says:

    A great list! I’ve read The Contract and gave it a Five Star, the other books that are now on my TBR list are Harbinger and Virtually Gone. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. These books are varied and so many of them sound interesting. The poetry book, Crimson Skins, appeals to me the most. Best wishes with the rest of your book challenge!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Marcia says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful review of Harbinger, Diana! I’m so happy you’ve enjoyed the series to date, and hope you’ll be pleased to know that the 4th book in the series, The Light, is awaiting you, should you desire to know what happens next in Rabbit’s world. (Hint: It involves the very real mystery of the Brown Mountain Lights, along with some not-so-real mysteries I totally made up. 😀 )

    I’m so pleased to be included in this great list of authors, and sorry it took me longer than usual to stop by. It wasn’t due to lack of interest, honest! Thanks again for your kind words!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ll be reading more of Rabbit this winter, Marcia. No doubt about it. And my pleasure to share your wonderful book. Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope your break is going well and super relaxing. Take care, my friend.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Wow, you’ve accomplished a lot of reading, with a good range of genres! Your days must be very enjoyable. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Jan Sikes says:

    A fantastic sharing of reviews, Diana! I love how you shared your honest thoughts about each book!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Wow you are a voracious reader, Diana and your selection of books are awesome. Happy reading and reading is so good for our soul. Thanks for your awesome share.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. memadtwo says:

    You continue to amaze me! The character of Rabbit sounds particularly appealing. (K)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for browsing, Kerfe. Rabbit is one of my favorite characters of the entire year. He shows up in the second book of the series and it was insta-love! I don’t want the series to end. Ever. Lol. Have a wonderful day and stay safe. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Meg says:

    I really look forward to your reviews! I have a feeling you’ll get those twenty books read too… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. acflory says:

    -grin- thank you, thank you! One of these books has my name on it, and I can hardly wait to start. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’ve read quite a few of these books, Diana, and instantly agreed with your reviews. Must check out some of the others! Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • One of the things I’ve enjoyed about my reading challenge is exploring genres beyond my go-to picks. And it’s been fun to read the work of my blogger friends too. So much talent. It’s exciting and rewarding. Thanks for browsing!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Another great selection, D. Some I have on my list, some I’ve already read. The one you really brought to my attention this time around, is Someone Close To Home. I really like the premise of that one, plus, as a fellow treadmill reader, I’m always looking for something that’ll make me forget I’m on the blasted thing!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. dgkaye says:

    Just wow, that you had time to read all these plus volume 1 LOL woman! Happy to say I have Marcia and Alex’s book, now you got me pushing up those babies! Fab list! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Prior... says:

    What a gift this is to have so many reviews in a post!
    D Wallace Peach edifies so many authors this way – and the cooo thing is that you also get all seasoned and peppered as an author – so I hope you have many good fruits from your many reviews

    Oh and I came here to find the muse challenge – off to find it now

    Liked by 2 people

  16. petespringerauthor says:

    Twenty books in three weeks? I’m like a weekend jogger running with a well-conditioned marathoner. Oh well, I’ll keep plodding along at my own pace. You get extra credit for reading while you’re on the treadmill. Can we boot 2020 out the door a month early?

    Liked by 4 people

    • I know, Pete. My challenge was kind of ambitious. Lol. It’s going to be nearly impossible, but so much fun! I’ve read so many good books and most from my blogging community. This will be the most exciting New Years of my life. I can’t wait to celebrate the end of 2020. Be well, my friend, and thanks for the visit!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. alexcraigie says:

    It’s been a difficult week and then I come across your review of my book and the other comments about it and nothing else matters! Thank you, Diana, for not only reading my book but taking the time and trouble to write such a great review. I think I must be radiating happiness at the moment! x

    Liked by 4 people

  18. Great selection and wonderful reviews! Sounds like any of these would be perfect for gifting.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. J.D. Riso says:

    Once again I’m impressed by your diverse list, and by how much you read. I’m sure you’ll make your goal!🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Wowser… sounds like a great bunch of books. I’ve started doing my reviews like this, too, Diana. More enjoyable to read. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Great reviews, as always, Diana. I jumped into the Look Inside of Alex Craigie’s book and read 4 chapters. I have a few other books on my Kindle. Thank you for the recommendations. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Tessa says:

    What another great pile of reads! Picky Eaters is a new one to me and it looks like such a fun read. Power through, my friend! A book a day, you can do it ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  23. balroop2013 says:

    Nice reviews Diana. Just this month I’ve read Someone close to Home and Crimson Skins and found them fabulous. Do you read one book a day? I do when it is poetry! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Hobbo says:

    What an eclectic collection! Great variety. I will enjoy reading some of these!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. How amazing, Diana, I bought Elizabeth’s War just yesterday. All of these books look amazing and I am very interested in Alex Craigie’s writing. I shouldn’t visit your book reviews because they always grow my TBR. It’s going to fall over and crush me soon.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ha! It’s time to give yourself a reading challenge. Lol. I think you’ll enjoy Elizabeth’s War – it’s along the same lines as While the Bombs fell. And Alex’s book is a great thriller with such an interesting protagonist. Speaking of kindles, I bought 3 books today – so much for the light at the end of the tunnel. Happy Reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  26. D.L. Finn, Author says:

    What a great list of books, Diana. I found one to add and a couple to move up on my list:) Thank you for including Elizabeth’s War here and reading! Hugs. Xo

    Liked by 2 people

  27. What a collection, Diana. Almost all are on my TBR list. Anneli’s will have to wait until I finish Marlie. That one also looks great.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Great bunch of books Diana. I’m impressed with how many reviews you manage. I’m enjoying reading some new books at the moment too, some from authors I haven’t tried before. Atl the best, and happy reading!

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Annika Perry says:

    Diana, thank you for these superlative reviews, a plethora of books and I love the diversity of styles and genres. You always reach into the core of each book and it’s very helpful with your final recommendation of whom the book would suit! So many tempt me, the poetry book would definitely suit my current mood! BTW, 60 books in one season!? That is impressive and my 62 books for the year pale in comparison! Happy Reading & Reviewing! xx

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’ve been reading lots of blogger books, Annika, which exposes me to some genres that I wouldn’t naturally pick up. I find my tastes in books expanding! And my kindle is finally a little less overwhelming. Ha ha. Thanks for taking the time to browse and Happy Reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Teri Polen says:

    I also read on the treadmill, but would find it extremely difficult to put down the chocolate cake. I’ve read so many of these fantastic books and have others in my TBR. At this rate you may reach your goal, Diana!

    Liked by 2 people

  31. […] Source: November Book Reviews, Part II | Myths of the Mirror […]

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Thank you for the follow-up on The Wind Weeps, with the Reckoning Tide info, Diana. It really is necessary to read the sequel for the relatively happy ending. I really appreciate the review. Thanks for putting my book up there with those of all these good authors, to add to my own TBR list.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. foodinbooks says:

    Thanks for the recommendations! These are all new authors for me and I always appreciate finding new books, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. So many great books in your collection, Diana. I’ve read and enjoyed several. Thanks for adding to my TBR pile…I think. 🙂 Have a great week! xo

    Liked by 3 people

  35. Great suggestions. I will especially be checking out “Harbinger.” Sorry I could join you for the Muse fun. Too fried from getting “Out of Time” ready. The creative juices need to refill or recharge or whatever. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  36. Wow, Diana. what an amazing collection of books. Thanks for all the reviews. Wishing you continued success with your new series too. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Crimson Skins the one for me, methinks, Diana – and thank you yet again for the enjoyment your reviews bring.

    Liked by 3 people

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